Career Warrior Podcast #276) Your Job Search: Does Generation Matter? | Lindsey Pollak
Today, I wanted to tackle some fun and juicy topics:
- Does generation matter when it comes to my career and job search?
- How has the pandemic impacted generational issues at work?
- What are some mistakes that are preventing me from getting hired?
In this episode, I brought on Lindsey Pollak.
Lindsey Pollak is a New York Times bestselling author and a leading career and workplace expert. She is the author of four career and workplace advice books including her latest, Recalculating: Navigate Your Career Through the Changing World of Work. Her speaking audiences and consulting clients have included more than 250 corporations, law firms, conferences and universities.
For six years she served as an official ambassador for LinkedIn, and her advice and opinions have appeared in such media outlets as The TODAY Show, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN and NPR. Lindsey is a graduate of Yale University and is based in New York City.
Chris Villanueva 0:04
Welcome to the Let’s Eat, Grandma Career Warrior Podcast. And welcome to the Let’s Eat, Grandma Career Warrior Podcast where our goal is not only to help you land your dream job, but to help you live your best life. Today I wanted to tackle some fun and juicy topics. Does generation matter when it comes to your career and job search? How has the pandemic impacted generational issues at work? And what are some mistakes that are preventing me from getting hired? Today I brought on Lindsey Pollak. Lindsay is a New York Times best selling author and leading career and workplace expert. She is the author of four career and workplace advice books, including her latest recalculating, navigate your career through the changing world of work for speaking audiences and consulting clients have included more than 250 corporations, law firms, conferences and universities. For six years, she served as an official ambassador for LinkedIn. And her advice and opinions have appeared in such media outlets as the Today Show, The New York Times Wall Street Journal, CNN and NPR. Lindsey is a graduate of Yale University and is based in New York City. So as you can see, this episode is going to be unique, exciting, and I cannot wait to just get into it. So let’s launch into Episode 276 of the Career Warrior Podcast. Lindsay, welcome to the show. So excited to have you.
Lindsey Pollak 1:33
I’m so glad to be here. Thank you.
Chris Villanueva 1:35
So I thought it would be great to go into your story. I was reading your blog earlier, and I loved hearing about when you were an RA in college, and how that brought you into the career space today. So if you can go into that, and perhaps tie in some of the generational aspects of this podcast, just to get listeners excited. I think that that would be great.
Lindsey Pollak 1:56
Sure. One of the reasons I love talking about generational issues is that we’re all experts, because we’re all members of multi generational families. And I think a lot of my story starts with the fact that my mom started her own business when I was a kid, she was an artist. And she took a lot of classes on how to turn that into a business. So I grew up hearing, you know, career advice speakers on the tape player in the car, and she would occasionally take me to conferences when I got older. And I really sort of saw that firsthand. And when I went to college, sort of a generalist, I don’t think I had a lot of career direction. But as you said, my senior year I became an RA. And that was really one of the best experiences I ever had. And I think looking back, I probably should have gone into university administration or career services. But I kind of didn’t know that was an option. I went on a scholarship through a rotary, like local Rotary clubs to Australia. And when I came back, I got a job at a magazine called working woman, which was like a perfect fit. It was a.com. It was a 1990s. I was in New York. And I was still giving these little speeches and attending rotary club meetings because I had been one of their scholarship students. And I loved my job. It was great. And unfortunately, after 18 months, the company went bankrupt. And I was looking for jobs trying to figure out what I wanted to do. And I just kind of couldn’t figure it out. But I was still giving speeches at these Rotary Clubs. I started writing a blog about my job search and taking on little freelance work here and there. And through that process, I kind of accidentally started my own business as a freelance writer and speaker. And where it ended up is I didn’t really feel confident giving advice or writing about anything other than what I knew, which was college and that first job. So I ended up building to my first book, which was published in 2007, originally called getting from college to career, and that was sort of the book I wish I had had when I was starting out. And I sort of turned that into a workshop that I started giving college campuses. And that eventually led to my connection with LinkedIn. And I’ve sort of been growing and pivoting from that very first experience of entrepreneurship, which is about 20 years ago. Now,
Chris Villanueva 4:08
I love that, that you and I have very similar stories in that, you know, I initially started, let’s say, grandma, for college students, I don’t know if any listeners know this, this is my first time revealing it, but college students were our initial demographic. And then we quickly realized that the people who we were meant to serve are folks who had you know, 510 plus years of experience because they hadn’t written their resumes in a long time. So I quickly found myself working with multiple generations, you know, many different clients across you know, with many different backgrounds. So this episode excited me and I think that delving into some of the generational aspects of our careers and our job search will help listeners so I’ll just get right to it with the core question here and then we’ll unpack I think some of the subtopics here when it comes to generation but when it comes to my career when it comes to navigating my career does generate should matter should I even be paying attention to this in the first place?
Lindsey Pollak 5:03
Yeah. So just to level set on generations, there are roughly five generations in the workplace globally, we have the traditionalists, who are about 75 years old and older, primarily out of the workforce. But some are still here, we’ve got baby boomers who are in their mid 50s. And 60s, we’ve got Gen Xers like me and our 40s to early 50s, millennials are about 26 or so to 40 and Gen Z’s are about teenagers to age 26. Where I think that’s important is I think, the era in which you enter the workplace, your first job is really impactful. So, you know, I mentioned that my first job was at Dot Com Magazine, and that was a very different experience than somebody who had maybe started as a woman in business in the 1950s, or is somebody entering the workplace today after the pandemic. So I think the economic circumstances, the opportunities that are available to you, and the culture of work really influence people’s decisions. So I think generation matters there. The other place, I think it matters is we tend to hang out with people our own age. And I think that a trick for people who are job searching is to really look at the people around you and make sure that the network of people that you’re interacting with is as multigenerational as the workplace. And that often opens up a lot of opportunities that people hadn’t realized,
Chris Villanueva 6:19
Makes a lot of sense. And second, I would love to talk about just the importance of generational diversity. I’ve been a fan of it for a long time, just this concept. Perhaps I’ve never thought of the phrase generational diversity, but I think it’s a really brilliant one. But first, can you share any notable experiences that you’ve had in your career related to generational differences, and perhaps managing people across generations?
Lindsey Pollak 6:44
Yeah, in that first job, that working woman, I went on my first business lunch, which I was super excited about, I think I was maybe 25 years old. And the bosses who I was with started talking about Watergate, which took place I believe, in 1974, the year I was born, and I was like, What is going on? Why are they telling me that I wasn’t even alive bed. And so that was sort of really daunting to realize that my lunchtime conversation might be different than the lunchtime conversation and people older, and I’ve had that happen. Now, I was at a speaking gig at a college many years ago, and a kid was wearing a maths hat. And my family are Mets fans. And I said, Oh, I was at the World Series in 1986. And he said, I was born in 1987. So let’s try to bond with him. And I was making myself look old. So I think sometimes our reference points are not the same as everybody else’s.
Chris Villanueva 7:32
Okay, that makes sense. I think about my past life as a restaurant manager, I manage a lot of folks who are typically my age, but you know, occasionally we had career bartenders or career servers who had been doing this, and they were in their 50s and 60s. And I remember some of the same references and really trying to relate because I wanted to be seen as somebody who they could respect but it just, it was tough for me, I can’t vibe or bond with talking about historic events from you know, that 70s and 80s. You know, so I think that’s a different aspect we have to think about, but would you have any, perhaps advice or tips when it comes to how we could get along with our colleagues or even people who were managing who may be older than us? So are there differences between perspectives when it comes to this issue, when across different generations?
Lindsey Pollak 8:21
So sometimes there are, but there are other factors that are important. So if somebody is more introverted or extroverted, they might have certain preferences about where they want to work people’s life commitments and childcare or eldercare responsibilities, their health, all of that plays a part. So I think what’s most important is to not make assumptions based on age that all young people want to be on technology, and all older people want to be the office, that’s just not true. But that said, I think a lot of young people, particularly those who started their career in the hybrid or remote, COVID environment, that is their normal. And so when we say we’re going back to normal, we have to acknowledge that there are some people who’ve never experienced what it was like before, we also have this sort of golden opportunity to rethink the things that weren’t working about the workplace in the first place. So I think there’s a lot of opportunity here. And my fear is that we sort of say out, let’s just go back to exactly what everything was. And I think that would really be missing an opportunity, not just for the young people who started during COVID. But for anyone who didn’t feel served by the workplace previously,
Chris Villanueva 9:26
I would agree. And I think that there needs to be a conversation not just between employers, but just employers and employees about what the ideal situation looks like. Because I’ve seen a lot of controversy fighting online about you know, this is the way it should be it should be you know, people should be going back to being in the office or some people are staunch, everything needs to be remote. And I don’t think that there is a blanket answer. I think that there should be a conversation but wanted to see if you had any further thoughts in general about remote work versus in person coming to the office and how people can get along.
Lindsey Pollak 10:01
Yeah, I completely agree we have an opportunity to rethink it. But it’s not easy. You know, hybrid in many ways is the hardest choice because there’s a lot of different variables. It’s easy to be all in person or all remote because it’s clear. So I think what organizations have to do is listen to their people find out what kind of flexibility they actually want. Sometimes employers overestimate or underestimate what people actually want, instead of listening and asking the question, and I think being incredibly clear on what the boundaries are. So if you say, three days in the office two days at home, is it a specific three days? How are we going to use the time when we’re in the office? How will people be measured and judged for their work? If they choose to come in more than those three days? What if they choose to come in less? I think a lot of times we sort of have a policy, but we don’t set the boundaries clearly. And I think that’s sort of fundamentally unfair, particularly to younger workers, or any new employee who doesn’t know the culture. Sometimes there are unwritten rules. And I’ll just give an example. I was working with a company. And their policy was three days a week in the office, that the leaders said privately, if you really cared about your job, you’d come in five days. So the rule was different from the actual expectation. And that’s really not a fair scenario. So I think we have to avoid assumptions and cultures that are not actually what we’re communicating to employees.
Chris Villanueva 11:20
Right. Love that advice. So want to focus on the second half of this episode, on the job search. Now we have a lot of job seekers who are looking for the next best thing, a lot of people who may be active or passively seeking for a job here, and to tie in generation to it. And we’ll let this go wherever it needs to. But I once had a client who came to me saying they felt very disgruntled. And they were saying, you know, I’m sending out my resume to all these different companies right now. And it just feels like, I’m just getting nothing but young recruiters who are in their 20s, who are just looking at my resume, and they just don’t have a good understanding of what I’m able to do in my experience. And so I could feel the tension in what this person was saying, and a lot of the concerns. So what considerations do you think jobseekers have when it comes to generation?
Lindsey Pollak 12:11
Well, first, I want to acknowledge that the ageism that your client felt is real, there is a lot of discrimination against older job seekers. And it’s a really sad distressing fact, particularly as we are eventually going to be an ageing society and need people to work longer into their careers. So two things on that point number one is there a lot of employers who embrace and actively seek out older workers and they advertise in places to say that so look at the AARP job board or the equivalent in other countries, look at websites for job seekers over 50, right, try to go to where the companies are inherently open. The second piece is most jobs, as we all know, and you talk about a lot are found through people and not through a job website. And so networking with people who are all different ages is going to help you find opportunities. And I’ll give you a fun example. I have a friend who’s in media who plays in a poker game with other media people. And she’s been doing this for 15 years. And she said when she started 15 years ago, people were, you know, in their 40s. And they said, Oh, you know, my kid is looking for an internship this summer. Can any of you guys, you know, help out with an internship. And she said, Now, 15 years later, all those kids have grown up. And people the poker game, say, Hey, can your kid get me a job, you know, his or her company. So, you know, all those relationships over time are important. And if you are in your 60s, job hunting, and everyone you hang out with is in their 60s, that’s not going to expose you to the networks where you might find opportunities. So look for volunteer activities, professional associations, alumni, groups, community activities, all of those are opportunities to meet people who might recommend you for a job. And if you come in at the recommendation of an employee, as opposed to through a random website, your resume is going to get a different kind of luck, as we all know, than somebody who just comes in randomly. I’m not saying it’s fair, but unfortunately, it is the case.
Chris Villanueva 14:12
Agreed. And I think ageism and just age discrimination, especially when it comes to the resume interviews. It’s wrong. It’s illegal. But sadly, it is the truth when it comes to a lot of companies and I don’t think people do it on purpose. I think it may be something that’s unconscious, or perhaps within the process.
Lindsey Pollak 14:29
Can I say one more thing on that? Yeah, go ahead. When I was reading my recent book, recalculating, I got a lot of questions on the HSM. And so I asked a lot of recruiters about it directly. And one thing I never want to, quote, blame the victim but many recruiter said when they interview or call an older job candidate, they said very often the candidate says something unprovoked. Like you probably think I’m too old for this job. Or I’m old enough to be your mother. So don’t get in your own way and call attention to your age. If the recruiter hasn’t even brought it up, I thought that was a really important topic with your own insecurity gets in the way, you might be stepping on your own foot instead of waiting for any kind of ageism, that maybe isn’t there.
Chris Villanueva 15:18
I love that don’t let your own insecurity get in the way. And I even had people call these things out on their resumes, I’ve seen people say, got laid off because of XYZ reason in big bold font, I’m like, you don’t want to highlight that you want to highlight why you’re the perfect fit for the role. So I just love that advice. And I think just going back to it your advice about networking, and not just submitting your resume online to these job boards, or these, you know, to get filtered through the applicant tracking systems, I think that is really solid advice, just to speak one more time on how to avoid age discrimination. Because this is the sad truth of today. Do you have any advice on how to submit my job search application materials, perhaps my resume, in order to avoid age discrimination,
Lindsey Pollak 16:03
I think it’s a lot of the standard advice, which is good advice, which is you don’t have to put your year of graduation from college or high school, you don’t have to put some of the jobs that you had early in your career, you don’t have to say that you waited tables in the 1980s. Right, you can kind of consolidate, and you can’t lie. But you can leave out some of those earlier opportunities so that you’re not automatically screened. You know, if I had a job in the 1970s, I’m not so sure that that would be something I would highlight on my resume that way, if you fill out a job application, and you have to put it but you remember your resume and your LinkedIn profile or marketing documents, right, their marketing materials, and so consolidating earlier jobs, not putting years of graduation, you know, I think having a picture where you look energetic, and you know, certainly if your hair is gray, that is what it is. And I have no problem with that. But make sure that you look modern, right, and that you’re not using a photograph from 30 years ago that looks like it was you know, taken it seriously. You know, that’s gone out of business.
Chris Villanueva 17:02
Yeah. It’s not about what age you are. Because there’s there really is no excuse. We just had a podcast guest come on, I don’t know, maybe like a year ago who was talking about how it’s never too late to learn a new skill no matter what age you are. And I thought that was just brilliantly put, because a lot of us we limit our potential when we say okay, it’s too late for me to learn the newest round of software for my industry, or it’s too late for this kind of thing. But they brought that into perspective to show how you could remain active within your job search to show relevance, and in a way it would avoid age discrimination. So I think that that was just brilliant advice. And you reminded me of that. The other thing I wanted to speak to was LinkedIn, you mentioned having a fresh picture. Do you have any other advice when it comes to freshening up my brand to make sure that I’m ready to go?
Lindsey Pollak 17:53
I do a couple of thoughts. You mentioned in my bio, I was a spokesperson for LinkedIn for many years in the early days and a couple of things. Number one is I think your LinkedIn headline is extraordinarily important, particularly as a job seeker, you know, if you’re transitioning out of mechanical engineering, and you want to go into management consulting, don’t put that you’re a mechanical engineer, put that you’re a management consultant with a mechanical engineering background, right lead with what you want. I’m a big fan of having a very long LinkedIn headline, because I think a lot of people never scroll down. So if there’s something that you want people to know about, you put it directly in that headline, right, that’s your most important piece of real estate. When it comes to the photo, I think you should wear or look like what you would wear to a job interview in your field. So if that’s a business oriented career, you should be wearing a suit or something very professional. If that’s something creative, you can dress creatively, I knew a guy who was going for jobs in the sports industry, he wanted to work in sports marketing, so he had a photo of himself in a suit in a football stadium, right? I thought that was really smart. So make sure that everything about your profile looks the part of what you want. And to your point about taking classes. If you say that you want a job at a startup, you need to have the word startup on your LinkedIn profile in a bunch of places. So maybe you take a LinkedIn learning class on managing startups, maybe you volunteer for a startup company, maybe you’ve joined some LinkedIn groups related to startups that has to tell a story that confirms that you’re interested in the things that you say you’re interested in. And the final thought comes directly from Reed Hoffman, who was one of the founders of LinkedIn. And this really has influenced the entire way I approach LinkedIn, and I welcome any of your let’s see, grab our listeners to connect with me. I’d love LinkedIn. He said he thinks people use LinkedIn wrong. He said most people go into LinkedIn and they say, What can I get today? And he said, Sure, he used to say this. He says, What can I give? Who can I help? And even as a job seeker if you are forwarding jobs that don’t interest you but might help a friend if you are liking people’s posts, if you’re responding to questions, if you are answering comments, if you are learning stuff, that’s all giving to the people in your network and that has justice metric value is sort of going in and saying who’s gonna give me a job today. And I think that philosophy change is really helpful for job seekers who might be frustrated, who can you help today?
Chris Villanueva 20:09
I love that in a weird meta way. I feel like you coming on to this podcast and having Eileen come on and say, hey, what can I offer and just offering this great topic up for our listeners, I think is a really great example of that type of networking. So I commend every single thing that you’re doing here. And I’m really appreciate you coming on the show. So I want to of course, circle back to your book and ask about what you’re up to in a second. However, I think a really great message to leave listeners width is what generational diversity is, and what it can do, not only for you, but for your company and for the entire ecosystem that were a part of. So what is generational diversity, and please paint a picture about what it does.
Lindsey Pollak 20:50
So I wrote a book in 2019, called the remix. And that is my message on generational diversity, just like a remix song takes a classic song and changes it in some way to modernize it. Re mixing the workplace for generational diversity doesn’t mean throwing away the old way that we’ve done things and people who’ve been successful. It’s about taking the best ideas and practices from every era from every generation and learning from all of them. So generational difference is often portrayed as a challenge to overcome right generation gaps. Sure, I see generational diversity as probably the best opportunity we have to be the best we can be because you’re not just relying on what’s popular practice in your era, you’re looking at all the eras before you and after you to discover what can be successful and to connect with people of all those generations. So to me, generational diversity is a critical business skill for job seekers, for professionals and for organizations.
Chris Villanueva 21:53
I love that thank you so much for that message. I think that just brought me chills. And I hope anyone listening can get excited about working across or with different generations. I personally get excited about it. Maybe it’s that I’m kind of like a history geek a little bit, but it’s just these things excite me. So I have to ask you about your book. The title, I think is great. So your latest ones recalculating. Navigate your career through the changing world of work. Tell me about this book. Why did you write it? And what is something that listeners can take away from it? Sure.
Lindsey Pollak 22:23
I didn’t want to write this book that was out promoting the remix. I was busy as can be talking about generational diversity. And then the pandemic hit. And like everybody, I was trying to figure out how to navigate through it. And I was sitting in my apartment in New York City, looking out the window looking at cars on the street, and I just had this moment of thinking of when you’re driving and you make a wrong turn or there’s traffic. And suddenly you can’t go the way you wanted to go and your GPS sort of glitches for a second and says recalculating. And I thought the pandemic was like that moment where we all had dreams. We all had goals, we were on a path. And suddenly the world said no, you can’t go that way anymore. And so I decided to research how people were handling this moment of recalculation. And what I ultimately found is the people I think, who I admire the most are most successful are always pivoting and recalculating and rethinking, you know, little bits at a time. And it’s very rare that we are sort of at a crossroads where we go left or go, right, right, do one thing or the other. It’s more often that we’re making little calculations all the time. So I think the message of recalculating in the pandemic is we have to get comfortable with those little changes and those opportunities and those experiments and those pilot programs. And I think if you apply it to a job search, or the remote workplace, we don’t often sort of have a moment to say, I know exactly what to do, right? We have to try things and experiment and pivot all the time. And I think that’s the best way for anybody to move forward and whenever they want to achieve.
Chris Villanueva 23:48
I love that. I think it’s a genius message. And I’m glad you’re putting it out there for the world. And when I first read that title, I had that Siri or whatever robotic voice go off in my head that recalculating. So I think that’s genius, too. how can listeners find out more about what you’re up to? And do you have a website?
Lindsey Pollak 24:05
Thank you for this opportunity. As I mentioned, I’m very active on LinkedIn. And my website is my name lindseypollak.com.
Chris Villanueva 24:13
Perfect. All right, Lindsey, thank you so much for joining us on the Career Warrior Podcast. You were an excellent guest.
Lindsey Pollak 24:18
Thank you so much for having me.
Chris Villanueva 24:21
Perfect. Now, listeners. This wraps up episode 276 of the Career Warrior Podcast, I of course, do my homework and I will make sure to include all the links that were mentioned within this episode within the description. So whenever you’re done jogging, driving and cooking, or whatever it is you podcast with, make sure to check out those links and make sure to check out Lindsey’s website as well as her book. I really enjoy doing this episode. And of course, make sure to subscribe and leave a review because it helps us out and it helps other listeners as well so we can get the word out. Thank you so much for tuning in. This was episode 276. See you next time to the Career Warrior Podcast. And before you go remember, if you’re not seeing the results you want in your job search, our highly trained team of professional resume writers here at Let’s Eat, Grandma can help head on over to letseatgrandma.com/podcast to get a free resume critique and $70 off any one of our resume writing packages. We talk all the time on the show about the importance of being targeted in your job search and with our unique writing process and focus on individual attention. You’ll get a resume cover letter and LinkedIn profile that are highly customized and tailored to your goals to help you get hired faster. Again, head on over to letseatgrandma.com/podcast. Thanks, and I’ll see you next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai