There are now four generally recognized generations in the workforce, each with its own attitudes and approaches to work. But they all have one thing in common - contracting is an attractive option for all of them, even if it may be for different reasons.

By knowing what’s important to candidates of every generation—AND why they like contracting—you increase your chances of connecting with those candidates, giving them what they want, and most importantly, placing them in the right contract assignment.  To that end, here is a quick snapshot of the each generation and why contracting is a viable option for its members:

Traditionalists

This group encompasses anyone 65 or older.  For members of this group, lifetime employment with one company was the rule, not the exception, so they value loyalty, respect, and sacrifice, and they believe you must pay your dues to get ahead.  Many of these people haven’t retired, either because they can’t afford to or because they don’t want to. Contracting gives them the flexibility to "semi-retire," working only when they need or want to. Companies are taking advantage of this by retaining or bringing in the expertise of older workers on a contract basis in a trend known as "Retiree Restaffing."

Baby Boomers

This group, which includes those born between 1947 and 1964, is comprised of career-focused, “optimistic workaholics” who have a love-hate relationship with technology.  Although some members of this group are reaching retirement age, many are not ready to or can't afford to retire, just like the like Traditionalists. But most don't want to work full-time and instead want to find a better balance between work and their families and hobbies. The flexibility of contracting helps them achieve that balance.

Generation X

This group, made up of those born between the years 1965 and 1977, values independence and autonomy.  Plus, they’re wary of the corporate world, a combination that makes them prime candidates for contract work.  They often consider themselves  free-agents and enjoy the various opportunities to learn and build their portfolio of skills through contract assignments.  

Generation Y

"Millennials," as members of this generation are often called, were born between 1978 and the present and love information and technology.  They have grown up assuming they won’t work for the same company their entire lives.  They crave variety, different experiences, and non-stop learning along with the newest technology.  They often view contract assignments as challenging and exciting, with the added perk of travel and benefits. 

Not every candidate you meet will fall into these generational molds, but being aware of the probable thought patterns, perspectives, and points of view of each generation may help you make the best fit possible between your candidates and client companies.  And, as you can see based on the information presented above, that fit could be a contract, rather than direct, assignment.

Debbie Fledderjohann is the President of Top Echelon Contracting, Inc.

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