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December 6, 2011

Within the last month I’ve had several conversations with several different “young HR professionals.”  And I feel okay using that phrase because it’s the one that SHRM uses.  In fact, they’ve even got a community going which is described thusly:

SHRM’s HR Young Professionals group helps create a foundation for SHRM’s professional members age 30 and under by providing resources and educational opportunities relevant to the young HR professional today and building community for the next generation of HR leadership through social media and networking activities

If you are quick to think in terms of generalizations or stereotypes then no doubt the first thing that leapt to mind was every concept of millennials you’ve ever run across:

  • “she probably met them through social media”
  • “I bet their helicopter parents were right there in the thick of things”
  • “no doubt she had to continuously praise and reassure them throughout the conversation”

Well, no.

Each of these three young professionals was as different from each other as I am from Demi Moore (which is, to say, not a lot).  The primary commonality is that they’ve all attended the same university and all three have chosen HR Management as their career of choice.

But didn’t any of them fit a Gen Y stereotype?  After all, the managers at our organizations like to have something easily identifiable to latch onto; it makes managing the individual so much easier when we can lump them together, right?

Well, no.


I’m a boomer/Gen-X cusper but am tossed into the boomer demographic where I, stereotypically speaking, have very little in common with someone of my ‘generation’ who was born in 1946.  But we don’t really use the generational shorthand for boomers anymore.  Perhaps it’s because us boomers are the ones assigning the labels, so we don’t worry about labeling ourselves?

I don’t know. I just get really tired of labeling groups or people.  It’s one thing to recognize how society, culture or advancements in technology lay a foundation for how people live their lives.  It’s somewhat of a leap, however, to assume that millions of people from that era will act and think the same way.

Technology, culture and society are fluid.  So are people.  Let ’em flow.

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