SmartRecruiters Hiring Success Journal

Gen Z: A Major Shift in Goals and Aspirations

This year a new generation just started entering the workforce. Generation Z, those born since 1995 are now beginning to graduate from college. Recruitment and hiring will certainly be changing as 23 million Gen Zers takes their place in organizations alongside 71 million older Millennials who range from about 25 to 40 years old.

Is there much difference between the two? You bet. That’s why you’ll need to be making some changes in how you recruit on college campuses and how you engage with today’s students.

What may be most intriguing, even ironic, is that in some ways, Gen Z seems to share more traits with much older Baby Boomers (born between 1945 and 1960) than other generations.

Although Gen Z knows no other world besides one where we’re all surrounded with technology, and prefer imagery and video in sharing stories more than by text or email, today’s young people actually appreciate face-to-face contact, a characteristic shared with Baby Boomers, who grew up in a world without email or smartphones.

That may be because as a generational study by Barclays notes, while Gen Zers are known for short attention spans and preferring digital communications, they aspire to security and stability as Baby Boomers do. That’s a sharp contrast to Millennials who have tended to put more value on freedom and flexibility.

Your employer brand: More important to recruiting than ever.

You’re going to need to pay much closer attention to your employer brand to attract today’s college students into your organization. And you’ll need to make sure it’s delivered engagingly online – not just on some static website, but across Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, and Facebook.

Remember that today’s young people have grown up in a world of “snackable” content, so keep it short and simple. They want to know more about your company than a specific job. What your organization cares about is way more important than how you make money.

Start now. It’s never too early

Some interesting statistics on Gen Z show that this generation focuses on the future in ways not shared by previous generations. For example:

  • 55% of high school students say they feel pressure to gain early professional experience
  • 72% want to start their own businesses, demonstrating a higher level of entrepreneurship
  • 63% of graduating college seniors have held internship or co-op positions

That last point reminds me that internships are an excellent tactic for landing top talent among graduating students. That’s because on average, you’re likely to retain 75 percent of new hires for at least one year if they’ve interned with you.

It’s not just internships that make a difference. Hosting lunch-and-learn events, offering your executives as guest speakers in classes, sponsoring student events, and communicating often across social media all build rapport for future hiring success on college campuses. If all you do is show up at a campus career fair, you’re too late.

Being authentic in a transparent world

Growing up in a world that’s more transparent than ever, this generation is not easily fooled. So be authentic – completely upfront and honest. Introduce them to your team and give them a chance to understand your mission and values.

At SmartRecruiters we know full well that “you are who you hire” because it’s your people who drive success. For Gen Z, that becomes even more relevant because they place a high value on working with others who share their own aspirations.

We recently hosted a webinar on campus recruiting with plenty of additional information on Gen Z. If you didn’t attend, watch it now.

Nupur Vilas

Nupur Vilas