4 Common Characteristics of Generation X Professionals

By Jennifer Herrity

Updated August 16, 2022 | Published December 12, 2019

Updated August 16, 2022

Published December 12, 2019

Jennifer Herrity is a career coach at Indeed who has worked with job seekers from various industries over the last 12 years. She creates resources to help people navigate career challenges with tools and techniques she has refined through practical experience.

This article has been approved by an Indeed Career Coach

Since multiple generations are integrated into the workforce, understanding generational characteristics can help you succeed in your job. Personality traits influence actions, so they can be considered to help ensure positive interactions between professionals, help a manager create policies that will encourage maximum productivity and help you to use your natural talents to advance in your career.

This article explains the common characteristics of Generation X professionals and how these traits can translate to workplace success.

What is Generation X?

Generation X is a demographic that refers to people born between 1965 and 1980. They are preceded by baby boomers, who were born between 1943 and 1964, and succeeded by millennials, born between 1981 and 2000. Each generation has different personality traits as a result of the major events during their childhood, and these traits influence how they act in the workplace.

Generation X, also called Gen Xers, grew up with minimal adult supervision, quickly learning the value of independence and work-life balance. They also appreciate informality, are technologically adept, flexible and highly educated.

Common Generation X characteristics

Generation X employees are highly valued by employers because of their position in the workforce. While baby boomers are retiring and millennials are still trying to determine their paths, Gen Xers can offer employers a wealth of knowledge, experience and stability, according to FamilySearch.org.

Please note that no company mentioned in this article is affiliated with Indeed.

1. Independent

Gen Xers are self-sufficient, resourceful and individualistic since they have been accustomed to caring for themselves since before reaching adulthood. They value freedom and responsibility and try to overcome challenges on their own.

As a Gen Xer, you can use your independence to advance in your career. Try to apply your problem-solving skills to form solutions and then approach your supervisor with your ideas. Generating ideas and finding ways to address issues is a valuable quality for any employee. 

Since Gen Xers tend to perform better under only minimal supervision, consider asking your supervisor for more autonomy in your role and use your successes to show how your independence benefits your company. Your independence may lead you to complete tasks correctly and on time with little supervision. Managers could value your independence and entrust you with more responsibilities.

Search for positions that give you opportunities to demonstrate your resourcefulness and allow for creativity.

2. Work-life balance

Gen Xers value a healthy balance between time spent at work and personal time and want to pursue their own aspirations.  Because they lived through difficult economic times in the 1980s, they are less committed to employers than their baby boomer parents. They tend to have a strong entrepreneurial spirit.

As a Gen Xer, you could find your passion and turn it into your career so that you can achieve the work-life balance you value. Consider whether you can find a job doing what you’re passionate about or consider creating one. 

Your desire for an even work-life balance may have helped you develop strong time-management skills and improved your strategic-thinking skills as you plan your daily tasks and career goals. Consider emphasizing these skills on your resume.

You may want to find a job that allows for flexible hours, such as freelancing.

Related: Becoming an Independent Contractor: Pros and Cons

3. Flexible and informal

Gen Xers adapt well to change and value an informal environment. They have a “work hard, play hard” mentality, appreciate humor and value diversity.

Adaptability can be a great strength in your career. If an employer introduces a new method or a client changes requirements, you should have no problem learning and succeeding. This characteristic is another skill that you can highlight on your resume and one that allows you to learn more to adapt. 

Consider looking for a job that lets you learn multiple skills and has options for growth or change. 

Related: 11 Online Jobs for Work Flexibility

4. Technologically adept

Gen Xers grew up during the transition from analog to digital technology. As the first generation to grow up with computers, they can learn and adapt to new technological programs with ease. They witnessed the birth of cell phones and the Internet. They are comfortable with various technological devices such as computers, tablets and smartphones. 

You can put your Generation X creativity and technological ability to work for you by using devices to increase your productivity at work and learning new computer skills to advance your career. This characteristic helps you to grow with technology as it advances and can make it easier to learn hard skills such as new computer programs or technology related to your field.

You may want to consider looking for jobs in the information technology field.

How to highlight your Generation X skills

Here are some ways to highlight your generational skills in a professional setting:

Gen X skills on your resume

You can list your hard and soft skills on your resume in your “skills” section. Try to highlight skills that were listed in the job description. For example, if you are applying for an accounting role, you can list your hard skills as specific accounting programs. Your soft skills may include “problem-solving” and “critical thinking.”

Gen X skills on your cover letter

Similarly to your resume, you can include skills you may naturally possess as a Gen Xer. For example, you can explain how you value independence and how that leads to your strong problem-solving skills, or how your flexibility makes you adept at time management.

Gen X skills during an interview

Try to demonstrate your skills during the interview by using the STAR method to describe real-life scenarios in which you used your skills.

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