What Is Gen Z?

The term Generation Z (Gen Z or Zoomers) refers to anyone born between 1997 and 2012. They are known as the first “digital natives,” or the first generation exposed to the internet and portable technology from birth. They are preceded by millennials (1981-1996) and followed by Generation Alpha (early 2010 to mid-2020s).

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Characteristics of Gen Z

We’re welcoming into the workforce a whole generation that was born and raised surrounded by immediate, portable access to the internet. Additionally, they were born into a time when stigmatization of mental health has dropped and different avenues of support and treatment became readily available. What does this leave us with? A whole grouping of young adults who:

  • Spend more time online. In contrast to previous generations, Gen Z spends about 45% of their time online “almost constantly.”
  • Have higher mental health awareness. As a result, Zoomers are more likely to have a diagnosed mental health condition. High value is placed on self-awareness, which means mental health support is a must.
  • Tend to be politically progressive. Statistically, Gen Zs’ views on key social and policy issues are more progressive than previous generations.
  • Are the most diverse generation. Both racially and ethnically, Gen Z is the most diverse generation yet.

58% percent of younger workers expect a company to showcase its diversity during the interview process, and 25% look for mentions of diversity on the company career site

Hiring Statistics

How Can Hiring Gen Z Employees Be Beneficial to a Company?

To put it plainly, we could all use a fresh perspective. This new generation of workers brings that—and so much more—to the table. In a forward-thinking company, hiring the best of Gen Z equates to a full and diversified workforce—one that is technologically intuitive, enthusiastic, and driven to succeed.

  • Diverse workforces have more success. According to this Forbes article, “Diversity allows for fresh ideas, which drives innovation and prevents companies from the downfall of groupthink.” Since Gen Z is the most diverse generation, hiring them will help your company innovate faster.
  • Diversity champions. Not only is Gen Z itself diverse, but Gen Zers are big fans of diversity in the workplace. They’re eager to associate with those of other cultures and backgrounds. This makes them a great asset to companies trying to improve their DEI efforts and cultivate a culture of acceptance and safety.
  • Tends to be more digitally literate. As Gen Zers were born into technology, they’ve grown up connected, making them more likely to find new technology intuitive.
  • Prepared and motivated to progress. Statistically, 75% of Gen Z expects a promotion in the first year, while 60% expect to change roles within two years. With proper assessment of the individual needs and motivations of your Gen Z hire, they are more than capable to do just that.
  • Independent and efficient. While members of Gen Z are perfectly capable of working as part of a team, they’re also great at working alone. They can self-motivate and self-manage, which is part of the reason why they tend to work so efficiently. Gen Z’s familiarity with smartphones doesn’t hurt either. Because they’re used to having everything at their fingertips, they’re good at multitasking, managing time, and finding the quickest way to complete tasks. 
  • Motivated by more than money. Yes, everybody wants to make enough money to survive. But Gen Z values more than just a salary. They want opportunities to grow and develop, and they want to make a tangible impact. If your company is looking for people who work purposefully and diligently, Gen Z employees are a good bet.

Strategies for Hiring Gen Z Employees

In order to strategically attract Gen Z applicants, we need to take a closer look at their motivations and values in relation to employment. Gen Z employees are looking mainly for adaptability, work-life balance, contribution with meaning, transparency in communication, and future focus.

Be Adaptable

Gen Z is known for their adaptability and fluidity. They were on track to inherit a strong economy and record low unemployment when the Covid 19 pandemic struck, which turned much of that upside-down. In the midst of these circumstances, according to Pew Research, Gen Z remains on track to be the most well-educated generation and are far less likely to engage in risky behavior, placing more value on mental health and finding success in school and work. They’re looking for employers who can adapt as well as they can.

Adopt Fluidity

In the interview process, model ways your company values flexibility both for the work getting done, and the employees doing the work (such as flexible work arrangements). How you find Gen Z applicants is just as important as how you proceed with the hiring process. Gen Zers aren’t on job boards as much as older generations, but they are on social media. If you’re not recruiting on at least one of the top seven social media outlets but want to hire the next generation, here is a great place to start.

Highlight Work-Life Balance

Stress is considered the #1 hindrance to productivity by Gen Z, so work-life balance is a top priority. Show this as top priority to your organization as well. Whatever your company offers to support this balance, lay it out on the table. This can include having a work-life coordinator on staff, flexible work arrangements, mental health programs, telehealth options, vacation time, and employee assistance programs (EAPs) available to your employees.

Show That You Value What They Bring to the Table

Generation Z wants to feel they are vital to operations from day one. Acknowledge that you want them to be there and treat them as an equal. Yes, they lack what comes with experience, but what if you treated their inexperience as an asset? They bring energy, relevance, cultural and social understanding, and greater global awareness than previous generations. Sell them on the mission of your company. They’re searching for a job they can find passion and meaning in.

Encourage a Two-Way Interview

In general, what Gen Z considers fundamental might feel abrasive to those of older generations. Lean into their assertive questioning and encourage them to evaluate you as you evaluate them. Be transparent about your experiences in the organization and offer specifics about what they can expect if they select your company as their workplace.

Build the Framework

This generation is looking for more than just a job. More than other generations, Gen Zers understand how things can change dramatically at the drop of a dime. They’re looking for a future that can adapt to whatever socioeconomic circumstances occur. Layout a theoretical framework and timeline for how they can quickly earn raises and move into more prominent positions. They value strong leadership and mentorship. Model honesty, accessibility, and involvement in strategizing their future. Give an explanation about training programs and opportunities available for workers and share how the framework can shape their first few years of employment. This feeds their need for engagement.

Where Gen Z Looks for Jobs

This section will touch on some of the most popular resources for Gen Z job seekers.

Employee Referrals

Gen Z values referrals more than any other source during their job hunt. If somebody they know recommends that a company is a good place to work, Gen Zers take it seriously. To make sure that your employees are actively referring people to open positions, first craft a culture that makes people want to stay. Then get the word out—offer employees incentives if they recommend somebody who ends up getting hired, and continually remind people of new roles that open up.

Keep in mind that employee referrals don’t necessarily have to be direct. Encouraging employees to post jobs to social media—where everybody they know can see them—is a great way to find interested candidates. 

Career Fairs

Gen Z might be known for always having their smartphone handy, but they still value face-to-face communication. Since much of Gen Z consists of young college students, college career fairs are a great place to meet potential candidates. 

Company Careers Page

76% of Gen Z job hunters go straight to the source: the company careers page. They choose a company they’re interested in working for, then see if there are any open positions. Because this is such an important resource for Gen Z, it’s vital that your careers page is up-to-scratch. It should be easy to navigate, include all necessary information, and match your company’s branding.

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Social Media

Since Gen Zers are on social media so often, it makes sense for recruiters to spend a significant amount of time using social media to recruit. Social media is a great tool to reach out to potential candidates, get a sense of who they are, and even reach those who aren’t actively searching for a job. Try starting with Facebook and Instagram, two of the most popular platforms.

Job Boards

Job boards like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn, and more are useful tools for both candidates and recruiters. When you post to job boards, make sure that job posts are clear, concise, and transparent—Gen Z won’t waste time on posts that are confusing or overly lengthy. 

In addition to the larger job boards, there are other platforms geared specifically towards younger employees. For example, many college and university students use Handshake to find their next job. Consider exploring these niche job boards if you’re looking to hire Gen Z (including interns). 

Millennials vs. Generation Z: Differences in Recruiting

While millennials and Gen Z are similar in many ways, they’re considered different generations for a reason. Let’s review some of the key differences between the twoand how they impact recruiting strategy.

  • Gen Z is more picky about the candidate experience. While both millennials and Gen Z are familiar with technology, Gen Z values a mobile-first, easy application process more than millennials do. They have little patience for complicated applications or long hiring processes. Since candidate experience can have long-lasting impacts, it’s important to get it right.
  • They look for jobs in different places. One study found that both Gen Zers and millennials prefer to find jobs through employee referrals. But their second-most-used method of finding jobs is different. Millennials turn to job boards more often, while Gen Zers utilize job events. This difference highlights the fact that though they’re tech-savvy, Gen Z still values real human connection and interaction. 
  • Millennials make up more of the job market. In 2023, the youngest members of Gen Z are just 10 years old and the oldest are in their mid-20s. In contrast, millennials range from their mid-20s to early 40s. Most Gen Z candidates that recruiters interact with will be applying for entry-level positions. 

Changes a Company Can Make to Hire Gen Z Employees

Take a good look at your organization with the motivations of Gen Zers in mind. Ask where improvements can be made in these areas and make changes. Shift your focus from finding the right candidates to attracting the right candidates. This generation is well-informed and assertive in finding employment that suits their needs and priorities. The best thing you can do is become the employer this generation wants to work for.

Up Your Social Media Game

Gen Zers are increasingly seeing the importance of a brand’s online presence with 53% of college students strongly agreeing this is important. To put that in perspective, last December that number was 34%. To attract this generation, research and implement passive social media recruiting tactics. Connect with potential candidates early and often. 81% of Gen Z strongly agree it is important to establish employer connections even if they don’t have an immediate job opening.

Streamline and Modernize Your Hiring Process

According to Forbes, 54% of Generation Z won’t apply if they feel recruitment is dated and 82% expect the hiring process to take two weeks. Wherever possible, convert paper-based parts of your hiring process to digital and offer options to video conference in lieu of in-person meetings. Utilize methods of communication such as text reminders and push notifications to request additional information or remind them of scheduled interviews. Keep applicants informed on where they are in the hiring process and the estimated date of the final hiring decision.

Improve Work-Life Balance

The emphasis on work-life balance is increasing everywhere. Among Gen Z, this is true to an even greater degree. If you don’t have a work-life coordinator on staff, consider adding one. Improve existing EAPs and add new programs. Look into additional ways to increase flexibility, such as telecommuting and flexible work hours. Increase focus on both physical and mental employee health.