Older workers' cynicism about the job market is not unfounded either -- more workers in that age group have experienced some retrenchment in their current position.
Forty-four percent of employed people surveyed in all age groups report experiencing personal negative repercussions in the past 12 months from the economy in their compensation -- whether through income, benefits or working hours.
Twenty-seven percent experienced a delay or suspension of bonuses, raises or matches to retirement plans; 22 percent say they have had their work hours or days reduced. Thirteen percent have even taken a pay cut.
How did you find your current job?
Fifty-six percent of employed people over 50 said they had experienced one or more of those, compared to 42 percent of those age 35 to 49 and 36 percent of workers between the ages of 18 and 34.
"There is lots of data showing that boomers have been hit much harder (than other generations in the work force). They make more money, they're the highest paid people, so they're getting a disproportionate share," Magnuson says.
The best way to get a jobBankrate's survey also validates a truism that's often bandied about: It's not what you know, but who you know.
Thirty-three percent of employed workers said that they found their current position through networking, and another 14 percent volunteered that they had found it through friends or family, which also counts as networking, experts say.
"Most HR people would put those numbers together -- when you're doing real networking it doesn't matter if it comes in through family or friend, or family friend," says Kilgore.
A paltry 3 percent netted a job through an online job board like Monster.com or Careebuilder.com. Both newspaper classifieds and company Web sites showed higher success rates at 9 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
How did you find your current job? Age breakdown of people who answered networking
"I have a Gen Y daughter home from college this summer. And her friend got a job, a really good job at a restaurant based on the fact that she knew somebody who knew somebody who owned this great restaurant. She got a great job and my daughter said, 'It's not fair!' And I said, 'No, it's not that it's not fair. It's networking -- and you should be doing it too,'" says Magnuson.
Being network-savvy seems to increase with age. Bankrate's survey reveals 27 percent of employed 18- to 34-year-olds found their jobs that way, while 39 percent of 35- to 49-year-olds used networking to find their current jobs. For workers 65 and over, the percentage jumps to 41 percent.
If you could choose just one of the following four ways to improve your current job, which would it be?
Show me the moneyWhen it comes down to it, American workers these days say that more money is the best way to improve working conditions.
Forty-three percent said a pay increase would improve their current job, while 19 percent would rather have better benefits, 16 percent want more job security and 15 percent desire more flexibility in their work schedule or the ability to work from home.
Magnuson speculates that workers would prefer more money due to pervasive economic conditions.
"I think right now people are really happy to have a job. I think that they've let go of some of those other needs or pushed them down. It's Maslow's hierarchy of needs; that's the bottom level, paycheck. You have to get those basic needs met and then once you get beyond getting those basic needs met, then you can say, 'OK what kind of work do I want?' And then you can get into benefits and things like flexibility," she says.