Action-Packed Tips for Recruiting Generation Z Employees

By Jeanette Maister

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As we slowly introduce the next Generation (Z, born between 1995-2009), we have to start understanding their special skills, tendencies, and work ethic. Generation Z currently only makes up 25.9% of the US population, and contributes $44 billion to the American economy, making up one-third of the US population by 2020. 

“Generation Z has arrived— and they’re very different from Millennials.” - Denise Villa, Ph.D. CEO and Co-Founder of The Center for Generational Kinetics states in their new national research study, The State of Gen Z 2017. The study compares Millennials to Generation Z and finds that Gen Z approaches everything from debt to retirement is different than their predecessors. We dissected this report to uncover some key trends important to recruiting Generation Z. Take a look at the key Generation Z characteristics in the workplace to better understand this workforce segment as well as some of our most actionable tips to implement into your attraction strategy.

Generation Z Characteristic #1: Strong Work Ethic

77% of Generation Z (ages 14 to 21) stated they’re already earning money through freelance work, a part-time job or earned allowance. This shows Gen Z, who is made up mostly of pre-teens and teens are exhibiting a solid initiative to make money at a young age. What’s interesting is this rate is the same as the Millennials that were surveyed, and they’re ten years older. We can hypothesize that Gen Z’s propensity towards self-reliance and their exposure to work from a young age will heavily benefit them in the working world.

Recruiting Generation Z Tip:

Gen Z’s strong work ethic correlates to their entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, 72% of teens say they want to start a business someday. While that number likely dissipates as reality sets in, the point of the matter is that Gen Z yearns for this. Whether they fulfill that desire or not, the inherent need to work independently, set their own schedule, rely on their own resources and grit can be used to your recruiting advantage.

Gen Z marketing strategist Deep Patel (@realDeepPatel) says in The Huffington Post, “the newly developing high tech and highly networked world has resulted in an entire generation thinking and acting more entrepreneurially.”

Attracting Gen Z employees can be done by speaking to this specific characteristic within your recruitment messaging on social job ads, in the job advertisement itself and even throughout the screening process and interview. Make sure to share examples of how the role incorporates an autonomic managerial style or let the Gen Z candidate see the career trajectory towards leadership or departmental head positions. Highlighting how the employee can feel like they’re running their own business within yours can give them the sense of entrepreneurial freedom they seek, but with the security of being a part of a larger operating organization.

Generation Z Characteristic #2: Stronger Problem Solving Skills

Communication (57%) and problem-solving (49%) are the top two skills believed to be most important for succeeding in the workforce, according to Gen Z respondents.

“Employers frequently said that the previous generation, Millennials, needed better communication and problem-solving skills. Maybe this message got through to Gen Z at the right time?” - GenZ Report

Fortunately, only 29% of Gen Zers said they need to improve their problem-solving skills. Problem-solving happens to be one of the most sought-after skills in today’s hiring process, and we can conclude that Gen Z is pretty confident they have this down pat.

Recruiting Generation Z Tip:

Use this insight to your advantage and attract problem-solving savvy Gen Zers with online videos. Videos have taken over internet content with about 1 billion hours being spent on YouTube per day by our entire population. Videos dominate social newsfeeds as well (we all know a BuzzFeed Tasty video can stop you in your tracks!) So why not put this to use in your recruiting initiatives?

Problem-solving videos, polls, quizzes, situational challenges are all over, and you can create your own that relate to your company’s industry or specific jobs. Don’t want to create a riddle? 85% of Gen Z stated in the report they watched at least one online video in the past week to learn a new skill. Have your team put together videos that give tips on getting through your interview process or do a “skills dive” into the top qualities you look for in candidates. Throw in some humor to show you’re a “fun work environment” and watch those applications rise!

Generation Z Characteristic #3: High Demand for Internships

Research shows college will still be a major focus for Generation Z, and a majority of them (38%) plan to work while attending college.

“This is a good starting point, but the number will likely change as more members of Gen Z enter college and begin to understand the financial realities of needing to work while in school.” - GenZ Report

Recruiting Generation Z Tip: Supply Paid Internships

Paid internships are the perfect attraction tool for Generation Z because they combine their aspirations to work during college and their inherent need to earn money from a young age. Generation Z wants the work they do to be beneficial towards their career goals and they want to be compensated for it too. However, they still desire the flexibility to focus on their school work as well.

Promote your paid internship program through channels most likely to reach your target audience. Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are great social channels to start with as well as music streaming sites like Pandora and Spotify. However, research shows Millennials (71%) tend to click on ads more than Gen Z’ers (59%), showing that Gen Z may be harder to convert. Therefore, incorporating key messaging that accompanies Gen Z interests is the best approach. Include phrases like:

  • “Paid internships starting at $X an hour” - Put a number to it, make sure it’s competitive so they know exploring this internship is worth their time.
  • “Flexible scheduling” - Make sure to note that internship hours are flexible so their schoolwork can come first, completing a degree is important to Gen Z and a flex work schedule.
  • “Fun work environment” - Whether you agree work should be fun or not, the truth is it’s what Gen Z wants… and if you can’t give it to them, someone else will! Mention one specific thing that sets your work environment apart from the rest.

Recruitment advertising for paid internships that includes these three components is sure to catch Gen Z’s attention. But how do we know? Well the Gen Z report found that nearly half of Gen Z say a fun work environment (47%) and a flexible work schedule (44%) are more important to them than paid time off, promotion opportunities and job training!

Bonus Tip: To keep Gen Z interested, be sure to lead them back to an engaging career portal site. A section of your career site should be dedicated to your internship and apprenticeship programs. Be sure to display pictures of your existing or past interns/ apprentices as well as key projects they’ve worked on and where they went next! Did someone land a job at a major company earning them a spot on your intern hall of fame? Is your VP of Marketing an apprentice from year’s past? Showcase their success, so Gen Z can picture themselves within your company too. 

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