Attracting Gen Z Will Be Like Recruiting Millennials Only Different

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May 10, 2019

Editor’s Note: It’s an annual tradition for TLNT to count down the most popular posts of the previous 12 months. This is No. 12 of the 708 articles. You can find the complete list here.


Generation Z has only recently entered the workforce, creating a wave of interest in what makes them different from previous generations. Defined as individuals born after 1996 (or around then. There’s no official start to generational labeling), Generation Z is poised to disrupt the workforce with the sheer size of their numbers, their reliance on social media for just about everything, and their preference for entrepreneurial work experiences.

According to Manpower Group, by the year 2020, Gen Z will comprise 24% of the global workforce. As they continue to enter the job market, it’s important to understand the characteristics and preferences of Gen Z candidates. They value a sense of community and a diverse environment where they can connect in meaningful ways. With these characteristics in mind, here are five key actions you can take to attract Gen Z talent:

1. Appeal to their digital preferences

Members of Generation Z are digital natives who are used to continuous content delivery and consumption. The wealth of available information has led them to be very selective when it comes to who they will engage with online, and in what manner.

An Altitude study found that Generation Zers take only eight seconds to decide whether a piece of online content or a connection (or even a job opportunity) is worth their attention. This characteristic of Gen Z poses a new challenge for talent acquisition professionals who want to engage and attract young people. The new imperative is to cut through all of the digital noise and establish ongoing, meaningful engagement that appeals to Generation Z. Some of the actions you can take to engage Gen Z online include:

  • Incorporating more visual imagery into your career content (Gen Z views digital video six times more than they read traditional blogs)
  • Leveraging a professional networking platform dedicated to young talent where you can engage with them via online career fairs, virtual Q&A sessions, and in-app messaging
  • Expanding employer branding on Gen Z’s favorite social media sites such as YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat, recognizing that although they are always online doesn’t mean Gen Zers will interact with you brand

2. Highlight entrepreneurial experiences

Generation Z possesses a strong entrepreneurial spirit. They view traditional company employment differently than previous generations, due in part to the explosion of online side hustles and the gig economy. One 2014 study found that 64% of college students have plans to start their own business in the future. When it comes to employment, Gen Z is seeking employers who encourage trying out multiple roles or projects within one organization. They also believe in working harder by themselves, taking a much more independent and do-it-yourself approach compared to millennials.

Although Gen Zers might not necessarily shy away from conventional roles, you can get their attention by demonstrating the entrepreneurial aspects of your company culture that will provide the autonomy and sense of ownership important to Generation Z. Some of the entrepreneurial experiences and policies that will attract them include:

  • Alternate educational opportunities such as on-demand learning and other development training
  • Hackathons or other programs that encourage individuals to create and innovate
  • Flexible work arrangements that provide individuals with more control over their work-life balance
  • BYOD (bring your own device) programs that allow employees to choose the tools that make them more effective at work

3. Convey a strong sense of community

Gen Z individuals are often interested in the community aspect of organizational culture. They’re curious about the finer points of the work experience, such as office perks and where they’ll be eating lunch.

A study of Generation Z in the workplace found that opportunities for social connection were a significant factor contributing to Gen Z satisfaction at work. According to the study’s authors, Gen Zers, “want to have places that provide an excuse for being there (e.g., coffee bar, meeting places to sign up for company events, steps for sitting and listening to presentations or lectures).”

If your organization provides an electric atmosphere that promotes fun and learning, Generation Z will see what’s wonderful about it. You can share details about the in-house Starbucks, early-out summer Friday tradition, or the popular on-site gym via social media. A short video walk-through of your offices can also give candidates a feel for company culture. These examples of authentic brand storytelling give Generation Zers the chance to see the kind of community you’ve built within the organization.

4. Showcase the diversity of your organization

Gen Zers value work cultures that encourage and support diversity and inclusion. According to a Door of Clubs survey of 5,000 Gen Z respondents, the number one cause that Gen Z wants to see their employers support is equality. Perhaps your company has an active diversity and inclusion committee, or you’ve won awards for the strength of your diversity programs.

Gen Z was born in the digital age and they view themselves as global citizens, seamlessly interacting with global peers. In this digital age when young talent is bombarded with content from a range of brands and employers, you can attract Gen Zers by engaging them on social platforms highlighting what separates your company from the pack.

5. Leverage the power of brand ambassadors

Gen Zers rely on authentic interactions with peers and trusted influencers when evaluating career options.

According to a study by the Center for Generational Kinetics, Generation Z job seekers will explore job opportunities by talking to family and peers first, before visiting a job board. Recruiting Generation Z will be more successful when you enlist current employees to act as brand ambassadors and tell their own career stories.

One way to do this is by hosting online events where current employees can provide their authentic perspectives to prospective candidates. As an example, the Goodwall app enables candidates to communicate directly with employer representatives via facilitated online sessions.

You can also leverage employees as brand ambassadors by shooting short videos in which employees share tidbits about their work experiences. The videos can then be posted on social media and published internally or on your career site.

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