Career Development in Generation X

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Career Development in Generation X

Generation X refers to the population cohort following the Baby Boomers. Sources differ as to the exact years during which this cohort was born. Coupland (1991) suggests 1960 to 1970; Bradford and Raines (1992) propose 1965 to 1975; and Howe and Strauss (1993) suggest 1961 to 1981. Whatever the birth years, it is their common life experiences that give this cohort an identity. Individuals born in Generation X are reputedly more global, technologically oriented, and culturally diverse than the generations before them. Coming of age when the linear career path no longer exists, where average income is falling, and where continuous change is the norm, does this generation have different values, work ethics, and attitudes toward work and career development? As the myths and realities of this question are explored, it is important to remember that the characteristics, habits, and traits attributed to individuals in this cohort are mere generalizations, presented to afford a better understanding of the generation called Generation X.

Myth: Individuals in Generation X Are Slackers,

Lacking Career Drive and Ambition

Various books, articles, and surveys have described individuals in Generation X as slackers, cynical about the future and resentful of Baby Boomers who have "taken all the good jobs" (Kruger 1994). This description is based on observations that Generation X workers jump from job to job, are unwilling to conform to organizational demands that do not suit them, and leave jobs that bore them and are not "fun" (Wyld 1994). Although persons in the two generations before Generation X-the Silent generation (1925-1945) and Boom generation (1946-1964)-interpret these behaviors as indi...

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...eneration X at Work." Training 31, no. 4 (April 1994): 21-27. (ERIC No. EJ 480 564)

"Generation X-onomics: Job Insecurity among Young People." Economist 330 (March 19, 1994): A27.

Howe, N., and Strauss, B. 13th Generation. New York: Vintage Books, 1993.

Kruger, P. "Superwoman's Daughters." Working Woman 19 (May 1994): 60.

Lancaster, H. "Managing Your Career: You May Call Them Slackers; They Say They're Just Realistic." Wall Street Journal, August 1, 1995, p. B1.

Quinn, J. B. "The Luck of the Xers." Newsweek, June 6, 1994, p. 66.

Wilkinson, M. H. "It's Just a Matter of Time: Twenty Somethings View Their Jobs Differently than Boomers." Utne Reader(May-June 1995): 66-67.

Wyld, D. "The 13th Generation and Its Revolutionary Definition of `Career.'" Journal of Career Planning and Employment55, no. 1 (November 1994): 26-28, 58-60. (ERIC No. EJ 497 317)
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