Baby boomers, Gen X and millennials – who’s searching for what jobs online?


With over 200 million unique visitors every month from over 60 different countries, is the world’s #1 jobsite. So, when it comes up with a piece of research that tells us that millennials are 67% less likely to choose a career at high risk of automation than baby boomers, we all pay attention.

But what’s it really telling us? First let’s set the scene. For the purpose of their research* (and because the lines get blurred around the exact time period definitions), the good people at have been nice and precise using the categories as defined by Pew Research Center. The millennials are categorised as being aged 20-36 in 2017; Generation Xers as 37-52 in 2017 and baby boomers as 53-71 in 2017.

Now that that’s all nice and clear and we all know exactly who we’re talking about, let’s understand what they mean by a ‘career at high risk of automation’. cites ‘routine’ jobs as being easier to automate (as machines can master the repetitive nature of the task). Examples that they reference include sales, admin, transport and construction roles. They then go on to determine non-routine jobs to include management, professional and service roles. 

At a glance, it tells us that the share of clicks to routine job postings sits at 52% for the millennials c.f 55.1% for Generation X and 61.1% Baby Boomers. And, at the two ends of the spectrum, that 34% of searches for baby boomers were for routine manual jobs, compared to barely a fifth of millennials who were less likely to be searching for jobs. And on the flip side, 30% of millennials were searching for non-routine cognitive work – such as management and professional roles, compared to just 22% of baby boomers. On the face of it, it looks like our younger job-seekers are drawn to automation-resistant jobs.

It’s interesting stuff, but perhaps hardly surprising. We’re comparing age groups that are worlds apart. Millennials are just starting out. Baby boomers are – arguably – if not coming to the end of their career lifecycle, they’re in the latter stages. They’re almost certainly going to be driven by different career-oriented, personal, and lifestyle, motivations. And whilst millennials were born with technology as an intrinsic part of their lives, the baby boomers are having to adapt. As a piece of research, it generates lots of questions. Not least to wonder are baby boomers searching for routine jobs through choice, or is it that it shows that this is what they perceive the market require of them at this time of their lives?

So, whilst it’s a great – and valuable – indicative benchmark as to who’s searching for what, it would now be interesting to understand the ‘why’ behind these search patterns. Why do millennials seek out non-routine careers? Why do baby boomers lean towards the routine roles? And why do Gen X sit somewhere in the middle? Perhaps something for to consider in the future. But that’s a big ask…

*’s findings were based on six months of jobseeker activity from September 2016 to March 2017 and is measured as the volume of clicks to job postings in each occupation group as a share of clicks to all job postings. The research compared the online search patterns of millions of UK jobseekers over the six-month period.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Share this article

Any questions? Any comments?

Your instant reactions to this article can be posted here. Use your own name or a nom de plume.

(Showing 1 - 1 of 1)

Anonymous Date: May 9, 2017

Millenials are 20 - 36 years old and the same group? who thought this was a good range for a group? About time we stopped spending so much time creating silly groups with silly names, acronyms for almost everything and just used one thing...common sense/bit of nous and go on with the job. I understand the value of research and aspects like this, but it seems we can go overboard on this.

Please log in to make a comment

Not registered? Click here.

Baby boomers, Gen X and millennials – who’s searching for what jobs online?