As labor force demographics continue to shift, organizations across industry lines will need to adapt their hiring strategies to meet the demands of next generation workers. Over the past decade, these efforts have largely been focused on millennials, but now that Generation Z is starting to enter the job market, a new wave of change is on the horizon. To understand how to attract and retain employees from this burgeoning workforce, companies must first recognize what sets Gen Z candidates apart from their contemporaries.
What makes Generation Z unique?
According to the Pew Research Center, Generation Z is largely comprised of individuals who were born between 1997 and 2012, meaning that the oldest members are just now breaking into the labor market. And while it's true that Gen Zers have a lot in common with millennials in terms of general disposition and tech savviness, their goals, behaviors and attitudes toward work are somewhat different. For example, millennials often prioritize work/life balance and workplace culture over high salaries, whereas Gen Z is much more concerned with job security, competitive compensation and career flexibility.
Research from Glassdoor recently looked into the common phrases used by Gen Z workers to describe the pros and cons of their current positions. The survey found that "work environment," "flexible hours" and "good pay" topped the list of positive characteristics, while "long hours," "low pay" and "minimum wage" were the leading causes of negativity. These keywords may help employers develop attractive job descriptions for Gen Z candidates moving forward, but there's more to the story than just pay rate.
Glassdoor's study also found that Gen Z job seekers are extremely interested in technology-oriented positions—around 19% of all employment applications were for software engineering roles. Other popular job titles included software developer, sales associate and mechanical engineer. Since many Gen Z candidates are still in the early stages of their careers, applications for management-level positions were markedly low. This suggests that Gen Zers are pragmatic about their qualifications and are looking for entry-level roles that will allow them to build their resumes and develop technical skills that will be valuable later in their careers.
How to attract talented Gen Z candidates
One of the most important considerations for recruiting Gen Z workers is that most have grown up alongside the internet and mobile technologies, making them the first true digital natives to join the labor market. However, leveraging Gen Z's tech savvy nature may require employers to update their hiring and on-boarding processes to better align with evolving expectations. A recent article from Fast Company spotlighted several key strategies recruiters can use to appeal to Gen Z job seekers, including:
- Optimizing for mobile: Gen Z applicants have come to expect seamless job search experiences and digital-centric hiring practices. Employers can capitalize on these preferences by optimizing their applicant tracking systems for mobile users, which would allow candidates to submit and monitor their applications on the go.
- Leveraging social media: Social networking is an exceptionally popular pastime with Gen Z audiences, suggesting that a multi-channel communication strategy could help companies appeal to this age demographic. Maintaining active accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram is a great way to engage with Gen Z job seekers and raise awareness about open positions.
- Utilizing content marketing: Much like millennials, Gen Z job seekers place a lot of value in joining brands that are socially responsible. Companies that share their philanthropic activities and employee wellness initiatives through press releases and blog posts can establish the type of goodwill that may translate into job applications.
Onboarding talented Gen Z candidates will become increasingly important over the next few years, but retaining these young employees will require some adjustment on the part of hiring managers. To stay ahead, recruiters should focus on creating flexible and seamless experiences that will resonate with next-generation job seekers.