Gen Z - you've probably been reading a lot about them this graduation season. Who is the newest generation to enter the workforce and what do they mean to the future of work? We may have a little bit of an over-discussion on all the generational differences currently co-existing in the workplace (the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and now Gen Z), but even with a little hand-wringing over “the Millennial mindset,” these topics are pretty important. Five generations are now trying to coexist within the landscape of work with recruiters turning their gaze to the youngest to fill entry level roles. But Gen Zs are not the same as the generations that have come before them and hiring, and retaining, them can be a challenge. So how can we capture the attention of these keen young workers?
Snapshot of Gen Z
So what does this new generation look like? Gen Z is typically made up of people with birth years around 1995 to 2015, meaning the oldest among them are in their mid-20s and headed for the workplace. Unlike Millennials who remember a childhood without the internet, Gen Zs have grown up entirely in a world of technology, connection, social media, and globalization. And keep in mind the current events this generation has already lived through. Gen Zs were either young kids or not even born when the September 11th attacks happened and they lived through the 2008 recession in their early teenage years. This is a group of young people who watched how traditional approaches to work impacted their parents (usually Generation X) and often those memories are not positive. In place of wanting the life their parents had, Gen Z picks up where Millennials left off, joining the cry for fair wages, a work-life balance, and purposeful work. And if they don't get it, they look to other avenues such as the gig economy, side hustles, and entrepreneurship. There is some evidence to suggest due to the chaotic world they grew up in they may skew more conservative in their work view as they age but as new employees start flooding the workforce employers are beginning to realize that whatever else they may become, at the moment they are slippery hires to keep in place.
Recruiting Gen Z
As with most hiring and sourcing, Weech noted several times, “relationships are everything.” Most candidates do ultimately want to know what’s in it for them — either in terms of salary, culture, potential for advancement, skill development, etc. You can leverage employees who went to those schools or served as interns. They can define the candidate experience and employee experience as they consider applying.”
Makes sense right? We all want to know what's in it for us but while the previous generations may have played the interview game out to find those answers, Gen Z expects them to be presented. The candidate experience and how information is shared and communicated, therefore, is becoming a sticking point for new candidates and a red flag when that information is not easily accessible.
Moving beyond communication, a lot of attendees at the conference were also concerned about social media, and they had heard Millennials and Gen Z weren’t on Facebook (which is largely true, as Business Insider has even reported in Generation Z could kill Facebook).
But where do you reach them? Snapchat? Instagram? (Yes and yes.) But what if you don’t have dedicated social? Or what if marketing is a specific silo and wants to do their thing and not listen to HR/talent acquisition? We're reaching the point where the ways we have always done business are clashing with the newest generation we're trying to attract. These battles and concerns are shifting the way we approach recruitment and will likely go on to impact the way we think about work.
Tactics to attract the attention of Gen Z
So what works? If you need to fill those entry level roles and new grads are how you want to do it, what can do you to stand in the crowd?
There are some quick tips to help you get that Gen Z talent you're looking for:
- Respect the attention span: It’s declining, so tailor info about your company to something that can be consumed in the span of a, you guessed it, snap.
- Value communication: The candidate black hole deal really needed to end two generations ago, but for sure it needs to end now.
- A smartphone in every hand: Smartphones have expanded the way job seekers research, apply, and communicate when looking for work. Recruiters who want to catch them need to be comfortable talking and hiring using the same technology.
- Rethinking your ad approach: This is a generation used to muting ads or clicking to a different tab while they play. They are conditioned to ignore pop-ups so if that is your approach, consider an update. Video is probably a better way to go.
- Independence is a requirement: Gen Z actually might value independence more than Millennials, who tend to value collaboration. Again, both of these are generalizations and every individual is different, but … respect the idea that they can work on projects on their own.
- They want to be entrepreneurial: They grew up seeing guys like Zuckerberg make billions off a relatively simple idea, so if they’re going to go the corporate route, they want to know they can iterate and experiment.
- Be tech savvy: This generation is as wired in as it comes. If you think they'll stand for dated technology or companies not embracing the realities of the coming future of work then you have another thing coming.
- Authenticity and honesty matters: Don't lie and mislead this generation into a seat in your company. Once they figure out the trick, they'll be out of the door faster than you can blink.
- Social responsibility matters: Gone are the days of employees who put their heads down and ignore the social impact of their companies. Taking their cues from vocal Millennials, we now have a generation of whistle blowers and protesters who will hold their companies accountable.
- Perks can make or break your recruitment: Gen Z wants it all. No work from home? Goodbye. Company yoga breaks? Naturally. This generation doesn't live for work and companies that can't adapt to that mindset are seeing the younger generations pass them by.
- Progression is a must: The average Gen Zer believes they should be promoted within a year to six months of starting work. These people are very aware of the expensive world we're living in and are eager to climb the ladder quickly.
Who knows what changes the next generation will bring with them. These digital natives have grown up in a world only Millennials have a similar frame of reference for and those experiences are shaping their generation and, by extension, the world around them. Hiring them can be a challenge and retaining them even more so but the innovation, creativity, and compassion this generation brings with them are well worth the effort in the end.
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