A Gen Z’s perspective of bridging generational barriers
Maybe there are some things we can relearn from the younger generation–rethinking resilience and learning from your experiences through organic growth.
Transcript of Podcast:
[00:00:00] DESTINY: Hello, my name is Destiny, and this is GJC’s podcast. As Asians, we have unspoken rules, traditions, and beliefs that were passed down through generations. And we never question them because you do what you have to do to survive and provide.
The younger generation, or rather the Gen Zs, are a unique bunch. They’re young, vibrant, vocal, and brave. They do things that we never considered normal long ago. However, there are several social stigmas placed on this particular bunch claiming that they took life way too easily, not resilient, are social media addicts, and are possibly easily offended. They also have high expectations towards their employers, short attention spans, and the list goes on.
But these stereotypes can be broken if you take some time to really understand and get to know them, to try to see things through their point of view, and not force our beliefs down their throat. It’s our job to be role models as the older generation, to explain to them why things are done in a certain way to maintain order.
But also welcome ideas and really listen to understand, put aside judgment, and to give them the opportunity to learn and grow alongside them. We need to educate, contribute, discuss, exchange, empathise and support. It’s time to make room for change.
After all, these are the people of the next generation who will one day lead us.
With me today is Zia Xin, a consultant specialising in recruitment for the Banking and Financial services portfolio, who’s been working at Good Job Creations for well over a year and three months now. She graduated with an accounting degree from Nanyang Technological University, and her desire for a career that would allow her to interact with people from all walks of life has brought her to recruitment.
Though thriving in her role, her journey here was no easy feat. Here’s Zia Xin, who will be sharing her story with you.
ZIA XIN: Hi, everyone; this is Zia Xin. I’m so glad to be on this podcast. It’s my pleasure to be able to share my humble experience in recruitment and what I’ve learned so far with you all.
[00:01:59] DESTINY: Thank you, Zia Xin. So, being one of our youngest individuals working in GJC, what is your perspective on time? And do you think time is on your side, especially when figuring out what you want to do regarding your career?
ZIA XIN: Yes, just to clarify in advance, I am not speaking on behalf of anyone else. Just want to share my perspective as someone who was born in this generation where most of us had access to technologies and widespread information.
Regarding my perspective of time, this is honestly a very difficult question as I know that I’m still working on making friends with time. Personally, there are so many external factors that will affect my view of time, including the urgency of the matter, the importance and value of the matter, the available resources to accomplish the matter, etc. When it comes to planning my career, I have to say, I struggled a lot in managing my relationship with time.
As some of you out there may resonate, I felt lost and wasn’t sure where I was heading towards at one point. Or whether what I was doing daily could push me towards the direction I was looking to go into. So during such moments, I feel rushed and anxious, especially so when there are people around me who shares about their career planning, goals, and all their goals laid out.
So on top of that, time was never really enough for me for the lifestyle I’m looking to maintain. So, I guess I’m looking to balance productive time I spend on work, but also on other hobbies, interests, as well as social life. So from there, I realised I may have to compromise further on certain activities to clear up space for me to eventually work on my future planning.
So, a very straightforward way to manage all these aspects of life is really for me to rank the priority and urgency of all these activities separately, individually. And then thereafter, I’ll break down these bigger goals into smaller objectives and plan during the start of every week. You know, how much I want to accomplish for each of these aspects for this week and then adapt and adjust accordingly.
So, with this way of managing time, I haven’t been feeling overwhelmed, and at the same time, I can acknowledge myself for the little checkpoints I have managed to achieve. So hopefully, this will support us in the long way.
[00:04:22] DESTINY: Thanks for sharing, Zia Xin.
And as you know, the older generation didn’t have the luxury of time back in the day. It was all hustle and long work hours, and today, the new generation seems to have a different way of thinking, as they see the importance of figuring out first before they attach themselves to a long-term commitment.
ZIA XIN: Right.
DESTINY: In this aspect, career. This creates a stigma that the younger generation are indecisive or may even be perceived as living life without any ambition or goals.
So, what are your thoughts about this? And how do we break this stigma of such views on the younger generation?
ZIA XIN: Right, I have heard of these comments circling around too, definitely. And I believe the fact is, priorities across different generations have definitely shifted. I often share these discussions with my parents as well, to understand how life was for them, but also to communicate our ideals.
So a simple and quick illustration of what I mean by difference in priorities could be. For example, back then, the priority for my parents was more to achieve financial stability for their families, be it their family of origin or to build a new family.
It was very simple and straightforward; it didn’t really occur to them to find a job that they were passionate about, that they enjoyed or that they loved, whichever job brings stability and security, right? That’s a great opportunity.
ZIA XIN: Hence, it’s all about the long hours of dedication the line of work that they chose What is more, is that the potential of technology has yet to be discovered then. Many processes are done manually, which is naturally more time-consuming.
DESTINY: That’s right.
ZIA XIN: So, they will spend more time at their work. In contrast, some, if not most of us, in our current generation, can exercise greater freedom and flexibility in decision making. And this isn’t to say our parents lacked options. But rather, we are fortunate to live in an era abundant with resources and information, which definitely drives change. So, there is a change in priorities here, as well as the speed of getting work done.
Many of us in this generation are known to be tech-savvy, so we can make use of tools that are available to us and achieve the intended outcome in a shorter time frame. So, eventually, as we get exposed to further insights of the ever-changing workforce, our career choices will inevitably be influenced.
This is due to the multiple paths available to us that can lead us to reach the same goal. So similarly, when there’s an abundance of choices, I still admire and respect many of us who invest time, money, and effort, in grooming ourselves to be ready for whichever path we take.
[00:06:55] DESTINY: Well, thanks for sharing, Zia Xin.
So, in effort, you know that we, the older generation, can potentially overcome this bias stigma towards the younger generation. So, what are some efforts in your opinion could be done so we’d be able to find common ground, to respect, collaborate and work harmoniously, especially at the workplace?
ZIA XIN: Yes, this is a very great question, which I believe not just you may have it’s a not a question that you only you may have a lot of my peers would also have the same doubts or concern.
DESTINY: I see
ZIA XIN: And I believe they are definitely more than one way to approach this issue. But personally, I have been adopting these two styles. So, one of them is the two way mentorship between me and my direct reporting, which is my team lead, as well as a roundtable discussion within the team.
So, for instance, my team lead and I always provide each other with feedback and share our opinions on most of the work matters, and the purpose of this is to make sure that we comprehend where we’re both coming from. Then only we can come to a common understanding and then brainstorm further for the best approach to deal with a certain case.
In our situation, it would be about candidate management cases, client communication issues, so on and so forth. As for roundtable discussion, this would be the best in terms of how we interact and communicate in a team. So definitely more than two people.
So, we usually bring up our concerns or doubts about cases or issues at work and share with everyone. And as each of us, each of these consultants, has a different way of working, the insights that we will be able to get—together from a simple discussion—definitely far exceed what we can find from the internet alone.
Now this doesn’t mean that we impose our expectations or our way of working on others; it’s more of a platform to widen our perspectives and expand our options to manage a case.
DESTINY: I think it’s a great way that you mentioned your team leader really takes the effort to give your team feedback directly instead of just, you know, not talking about it at all.
And I think also, the ability to discuss with one another, exchanging perspectives, I think that’s a very good approach in working and collaborating together.
ZIA XIN: Yes, definitely.
[00:09:14] DESTINY: So, I think maybe perhaps back then, especially in the Asian culture, emotions, feelings, and mental health were a touchy-feely subject that most would like to avoid because it portrayed a sign of weakness or vulnerability.
But the newer generation has caught on and has realised the problems with ignoring our mental wellness and suppressing our dreams and ambitions and come up with better ideas, and strategies on how we can take care of ourselves better.
[00:09:52] DESTINY: So, Zia Xin, as a young individual like yourself in the workforce, committing wholly to a career doesn’t just happen because you want it to. I mean, I’d say dedicated, yes, because I believe you want to give your best in your role.
So, when will you eventually have it all figured out?
ZIA XIN: Ah, this is a very good question and it’s a tricky question. I do identify myself to be one of those who aspire to find our so-called right path before committing myself to a long-term career journey. So do allow, oh, do allow me to clarify my definition of committing.
I am still committed, like what you say, to doing my best in my current job, no doubt. But I’m still finding meaning in what I do as of now, but also in the future, whether it aligns with what I am interested in. So, I do have a long-term picture, as of now, drawn out of where I will be, but do I have it in clarity?
Frankly speaking, not quite, not quite. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been putting in work behind the scenes to eventually map out the career path I’m aiming to build. And there’s no time frame as of now, I have to be honest.
DESTINY: And can you share with us, what are some efforts that you mentioned earlier towards mapping out your desired career path?
ZIA XIN: For this one, it’s quite straightforward. Mainly I’m talking about building transferable and intangible skills, such as how we process feedback and turn them into constructive criticisms, regardless of the circumstances. So, this is actually a way to help us build resilience as well.
On top of that, I was given really great opportunities in my current job to build upon my stakeholder management skills because I do deal with people from different backgrounds, industries and different seniority levels.
And I have to say this really stems from the confidence and support given by my team members; kudos to them. So far, I’ve been elaborating a lot about soft skills because I believe hard skills can be learned and practiced through textbooks, research or reading, or even online materials.
But these intangible skills are definitely better learned through real-life experiences with actual human beings. They can definitely, they will definitely come in handy regardless of whatever career I choose in the future. And oh, this may be my biased opinion. But I don’t see that there is a better way of working, for example, whether we commit to one long-term career right now or we plan out for the future.
Because we achieve different things with the way we operate. Although, I do agree that at some point in time, after a few years into the workforce, it will be beneficial for us, from the perspective of time, that we already get a clearer map and a firm direction. So, to prove as a result of the work we have been putting in since a younger age.
[00:12:53] DESTINY: So, I think the next question has been circling a lot between my peers previously. And the question goes like this.
So, do you think money or family background has a play in being able to afford to take breaks?
Because some people can afford to take a gap year or two from studying or, you know, perhaps before jumping into the work life and then talk about, take some time to discover yourself, your interests, your passion, or travel the world, explore, figure out what you want to do before the long term commitment, or just simply take a break.
So, what do you think, Zia Xin?
ZIA XIN: Okay, this is something that has been going on in our generation as well. Definitely, I have peers who have taken a break during studies. I also have peers who decided to take a break after one or two years of working.
DESTINY: I see.
ZIA XIN: So, personally, I think it’s highly relative to the previous discussion where I mentioned the difference in priorities in life. So, especially, okay, besides the priorities in life, the environment and background, and of course, the financial ability, which you mentioned, will also play a part in shaping our priorities.
So, for example, if I were born into a family with little to no financial freedom, education in itself may already be challenging to complete. So, my priority would be to get into the workforce as soon as possible and generate income to support my family.
So, in this case, it probably doesn’t matter to me too much whether I’m passionate about the field I was working in.
So, similarly, I won’t choose to take breaks that may pause the flow of income. But in contrast, if I grew up in an environment where there is financial stability and freedom, paired with parents who adopts experiential learning since young, this would definitely have constructed an environment where I would naturally be looking for opportunities to venture.
So, my priority here would be to find which path can take me further in life as well as what I want to do in the longer term. In contrast, with traditional strict parenting that believes in committing to a long-term successful career as soon as we graduate. Then regardless of wealth, I would say I’d be influenced one way or another to choose the correct path early in my career.
And then I’ll just stick through it to generate wealth and achieve success.
DESTINY: I think that’s a very interesting perspective coming from a younger generation talking about how finance really, finances really play a role in terms of commitment.
ZIA XIN: It does.
DESTINY: So, in that case, what about students who don’t have enough financial freedom but are looking? You know, to take a breather, what can be done, money aside?
ZIA XIN: Okay. Personally, from what I have observed, this does not speak for everyone. If you’re looking to take a breather from education, and you have a bit of limitation in terms of finances, you wouldn’t want to go on trips, then I would recommend that you can explore part-time jobs or internships which you are interested in, or you are passionate in.
Investing your time in something that you like, I’m pretty sure that is, first of all, fruitful, that will be healthy also. At the same time, you can generate side income. So yeah, that will be a great way. But in the meantime, you can also take this chance to find out whether this is where you like to develop a career in, for the long term. So yeah, win-win situation.
But vice versa. If you’re looking to take a break from a job, so you don’t want to keep working, no studies, then why not try out budget traveling? So do not write this option off completely. You can still travel. We just have to find out a way. So, do your research, figure out a way, improvise, and then adapt. See if there’s a way for you to travel, and have fun, but also within a certain budget.
DESTINY: I like what you talked about. Don’t write off the option traveling off completely because I think here the key skill that you can learn from something like this is to improvise and really, not just make do, but I guess if, if you really wanted something, then go get it, work for it.
[00:17:05] DESTINY: So, when should a student start to think about their careers? What can they do to prepare themselves? What are your thoughts about this, Zia Xin?
ZIA XIN: Okay, honestly Isn’t this just a journey of trial and error until we discover where we want to stay? Because is there really a best time to start thinking about one’s career? Because I know some of us held on to the same aspirations that we had since we were four or five years old.
And some of us only started to think about it during the university period, where we were able to get more clarity on the options that we may have. But some of us only identified a direction after years of working because that’s how they eventually stumble upon what feels right for them after trial and error across a few jobs, employments and industries.
So in my opinion, these all seem to be the right timings. However, there may be some of us who would want to shorten the time spent on discovery.
So, if that is the case, I would suggest that you identify a specific field already, where you’d love to put more time and effort into researching your career options from there.
Instead of giving yourself too many options, too wide of a variety, better do that instead. And then, the downside however, there is a downside to this method. Because you will restrict yourself from potential opportunities outside of that box, so it is up to you, and regardless of your choice, I want to encourage all of us just to trust the process and fine-tune from there on.
DESTINY: So, I think, here’s the thing about interest because I believe that, you know, once you’re committed to something, it all starts from a small interest. And the thing about interest is it needs to be triggered repeatedly through this experience, through your experiences and encounters.
ZIA XIN: Yes, definitely.
DESTINY: And I remember, you know, one of my favourite self-help books called Grit, the book written by this psychologist, Angela Duckworth. She has once said that in her book: Interests are not discovered through introspection. Instead, they are triggered by interactions you make with the outside world.
And without experience and without experimenting, you can’t figure out, you know, what, which interest will stick, and which won’t. By incorporating fun and creating learning experiences for yourself, figure out what you like to do and stick with it, you know, and be good at it through deliberate practice.
ZIA XIN: Yeah.
DESTINY: Don’t worry if it changes over time. It happens, you know; it’s only you’re no longer interested in what you were initially doing. It’s normal. And yeah, and it’s okay, I think. But while you’re doing it, while you’re at it, give your best efforts and learn all that you can.
[00:19:41] DESTINY: So, next question, this question will be directed towards your career. So, was recruitment your first choice when choosing your career? Why did you stay?
ZIA XIN: Okay. Yeah, this is very interesting. As Destiny has previously shared, you know, regarding my background, I came from Accounting. So initially, I opted for an Accounting degree, thinking that it will bring me stability in the future because that is what I have been told, you know, it’s a stable career.
But after I went through the first year of Uni, I knew I was not developing a long-term career in the accounting field. Unfortunately, neither did I excel in Accounts as compared to my peers, nor was I really passionate in finance then.
So, I was venturing my options. I thought I’d like to develop further in a career where I get to interact with people as part of my job, which then redirected my anchor to looking at career opportunities within the HR sector.
And that’s how I started to explore the recruitment options. So fast forward to my interview with GJC for the recruitment consultant role. Elaine, which is my manager, has played a big part in helping me understand what recruitment is like. She was very devoted and made me feel so comfortable during her sharing.
Truth be told, I did have reservations about the idea of sales, but it was really a great opportunity for me to develop organic growth as I spoke to people from all walks of life at different seniority. So, I stayed on because of the intangible learning and the stakeholder management skills, which I mentioned earlier, especially for a junior like me.
Cause I’m pretty sure I don’t get these kinds of opportunities every day. So, on top of that is that the industrial insight I get from my candidates, from my clients, my team leaders, people, and my seniors around me, those are all precious information that I can keep and use in the future.
[00:21:31] DESTINY: I like how you talked about organic growth and just really learning anything, something new from scratch, instead of going someplace where you think that you deserve it just because of your perhaps whatever stated on your paper. So, I think that’s a very good, you know, perspective from you.
And from what you were telling me earlier, you graduated with a degree in Accounting. But the finance and the banking and finance portfolio is very niche and requires you to speak with mostly candidates who have plenty of years of experience in the field. So how do you navigate through these situations?
Because I know, for one, it is so difficult. What were some of the challenges that you faced?
ZIA XIN: So, this is a very good question, and it is very relevant to what’s going on with me right now. It could be intimidating, as you shared. Because for our Banking and Finance portfolio, just to give you a bit of background, we basically deal with candidates and clients coming from, who are specialising in banks or non-banking financial institutions.
So I liaise and interact with front, middle and back-office professionals of different seniority. As you mentioned, one of the significant challenges that I was facing at the start of my career was the understanding of technical terms and contextual knowledge that is really required when we speak to all these candidates.
Understandably, candidates enjoy communicating with recruiters that know what they are looking for and what is needed to support them in securing the opportunity. So, I always felt like I lacked such expertise which resulted in experiencing imposter syndrome at times. But regardless, I try my best to gather enough intel around to make sure I am adding on values for my candidates.
[00:23:29] DESTINY: And if I’m not wrong, this year, you’re only 23. And already you’re in such a niche portfolio, learning everything from scratch. I really do respect what you do. And in regard to, previously, you mentioned that you did experience something called the imposter syndrome.
Could you perhaps elaborate further on, you know, this particular syndrome and how did you overcome it?
ZIA XIN: Oh, yes, I definitely would love to share. This syndrome usually kicks in when I’m assigned to new job openings and roles by our clients to fulfil when I have a limited understanding of the job. This means that I have no full context of how this role or what this job entails.
So, usually, in such situations, I’ll approach it with the following three steps. First, research about the client. So, what do I know about this client? What is their business about? How are they viewed by the candidates in the market?
And then moving on, researching about the role itself—about this job. What are the key requirements that we see across the industry? And then with that, I can get a deeper understanding of how it is, it could be, like working in this job.
And then the last point is to target the right candidates. So, for this one, I am really grateful to my team leader and manager because they have been guiding me so closely since day one.
My team lead, who has an extensive background in Banking, always manages to draw a clear picture of all these roles and about all these job openings. Although I may not have a Banking and Financial background, I can’t say that having studied Accounting did not help out with picking up certain knowledge of this role.
DESTINY: Yeah, because I do understand that in the Banking and Finance sector, there are many, many roles, and quite a number of them are niche roles, and to take the time to really understand what a particular role is required of a candidate takes a lot of, I would say, a lot of studying in the background.
So, I think, in other words, taking initiative on your end and making an effort greatly helps instead of solely relying on other people to teach us. So, at the same time, having a relationship with helpful and experienced people is a plus point too. And I think you would also ask questions that make them think as well.
So it’s not just like a take-and-take relationship between you and your team leader. But also, you add value to your team. I think even when you don’t even realise it.
ZIA XIN: Yup, very essential.
[00:25:59] DESTINY: So, Zia Xin, you’re one of the youngest members of your team, of more experienced and qualified adults. Can you give the audience a glimpse of what communication and working together between you and your team look like?
ZIA XIN: Oh, definitely. So, in our team, we value close communication, strong teamwork, and transparency a lot. So as a junior, as the junior of the team, I have been absorbing so much new knowledge and gaining exposure from each of my senior team members. I’m really grateful that they have always been so patient and understanding to my queries.
Similarly, we share a lot regarding any client or candidate issues, which I mentioned earlier, for case studies. It’s actually a way, a form of learning for us. And this helps so much in identifying better ways to navigate and improving our quality as consultants.
So on a side note, I have received tremendous support and constructive feedback from them. And that, once again, pushes my learning further.
[00:25:59] DESTINY: I think when you mentioned the idea about discussing case studies, this is something that doesn’t really happen often, I feel in terms of collaboration within a team and studying what went wrong and what could be improved in the next round.
I think this is something that even I potentially will want to consider to adopt this, because I’m also working in a team, and I think this would be very useful for me as well.
So, what would you advise your juniors who may be working with and struggling to communicate with older colleagues?
ZIA XIN: Oh, okay. In short, I have to say this in the most cliche way. So, with an open heart and open mindset, and showing respect for others with these three foundations, we can pretty much work with anyone.
Because we’d be putting ourselves in each other’s shoes, trying to comprehend the direction of where they were coming from, and then brainstorm a solution and eventually come to a common agreement.
Though it’s not every time we manage to come to a uniform conclusion, ultimately, I believe showing respect for one another’s differences is essential. Consequently, I believe this trains our adaptability in the workforce, which is also considered one of the most valued soft skills, especially in our current era of globalisation.
DESTINY: I like how you mentioned showing respect for others because I think as a young person, you know, speaking in the midst of so many people who are much more experienced and way older, I think that sometimes it’s a good reminder for myself as well to, I guess, not to be the smart aleck and assume. Something you think you know everything, but in reality, there’s so many things that we still haven’t considered.
And I think that going in a project or any collaboration with an open mind is so important because I think not to have these preconceived thoughts about certain people or the way things are done.
But I think going in with a totally neutral mind and the idea of honouring others, you know, for their skill set, for the experience and doing our best to work together. It’s such an important value, especially working in a corporate culture.
ZIA XIN: I agree.
[00:29:20] DESTINY: Thank you so much, Zia Xin, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be on this podcast. And I believe our audience, especially the younger ones, would have greatly benefited from your insights, advice and experience.
You’re listening to good job creations till then. See you again next month.
Podcast written and edited by Destiny Goh
Marketing Communications Executive