10 Career Mistakes Boomers Made That Gen X Should Avoid

Jeff Altman
9 min readJan 8, 2021

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Originally Published on Forbes.com in 2 parts Part 1 Part 2

One day, I woke up, looked in the mirror, and saw something I’d never seen before. There were things on my face that were in slightly different places. There was a little bit of grey in my beard and a closet full of clothing that had seen better days. At least my nonexistent hairline wasn’t sprouting!

As time went by, I came to realize these “rites of passage” were relatively inconsequential by comparison to the “hard knocks” some of my friends and I were taking that were decimating our careers. I will share the top 10 lessons my friends and I have learned the hard way:

1. Be cautious of reporting to someone from a younger demographic.

This can be a signal that your advancement opportunities have disappeared. Jerry, a Boomer, accepted an assignment reporting to someone from Gen X and never regained his leadership status within his organization. He heard many good reasons for why this happened:

“You are much more capable than the assignments that we have available.”

“We have something coming up with the new budget in January, so this is just to tide you over until then.”

“Would you consider relocating to another part of the country? We don’t have the right kind of opportunities for you here.”

That last one was a favorite of mine, given that Jerry had two teenagers in high school who would have poisoned his coffee had he agreed to a move.

In my experience — and in Jerry’s — there is a signal that a firm gives when they have someone report to someone from a younger demographic and it’s designed to send a message that you and your leadership or your abilities aren’t valued anymore. If that happens to you, it’s time to move on — not hang on.

2. Don’t provide your employer with “lazy loyalty.”

Freely giving away loyalty to your employer rarely leads to a good outcome. The person who gets ahead isn’t always the smartest or hardest worker. Those are great qualities to have but they are no guarantee for career success. People get ahead by being alert to opportunities…

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Jeff Altman

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter. Career Coach. Host of No BS Job Search Advice Radio & JobSearchTV.com. Join JobSearch.Community. It will help you