Recruiting Gen Z

10 Tips for Recruiting Gen Z Candidates

You’ve spent the past years — and countless hours and resources — working on optimizing how you attract and recruit Millennials. You’ve got a strong handle on it now. The thing is, there’s a new generation entering the workforce: Generation Z. It’s time to make way!

Although sources tend to vary, most agree that people belonging to Gen Z were born in the space of time between 1996 and 2012. Some other names include “Digital Natives”, “Gen Wii”, and “iGeneration.” For some quick context, here are the 3 previous generations by time span:

  • Millennials: 1981-1996
  • Gen X: 1965-1980
  • Baby Boomers: 1946-1964

When you do the math, Gen Z are between 7 and 22 years old — which means they’re starting to enter the workforce. And unlike their predecessors, the Millennials, who they watched struggle with immense college debt, Generation Z is looking at different ways they can make a living.

One such way is by forgoing traditional college and entering the workforce sooner — and many Gen Z’ers are seriously considering doing just that.

What that means for you is that you’ll be confronted with younger, incredibly digitally-savvy candidates looking for employment with companies that provide on-demand training, rather than fresh college graduates. Waiting until the traditional 20 or 21 years old may be already too late to start recruiting gen Z candidates.

This means it’s a whole new ballgame for recruiting. Here’s what you need to know.

5 things to know about recruiting Gen Z

1. Start recruiting Gen Z early

In a global survey by Universum, a research and advisory firm, 47% of the 50,000 respondents reported they might join the workforce straight out of high school. 60% reported they would welcome employers offering education in the field more than a college degree.

So employer branding needs to start sooner than traditional with this group and start targeting their new and unique needs.

2. Communicate value and meaning

For Generation Z, work-life balance is critical. They’d prefer to work part-time than work longer hours and make more money. 51% of North American respondents to the Universum survey mentioned above, selected “flexible” work as their most important career goal.

What does that mean for you? Target meaning and value in your messaging. What kind of long-term career growth can they expect? How will it make an impact? More so than salary and financial security, Gen Z is concerned about the positive impact on society that your company has — and that message needs to be shown in your branding.

3. Target their entrepreneurial spirit

Gen Z grew up with the answer to just about any question which can be answered immediately using the internet. That means they may well become the most independent generation ever. So Generation Z will be looking for independence in their roles, entrepreneurial-type opportunities, and purpose from their employers.

Offering flexible work schedules and virtual teams can help; but even more so, Gen Z will look for employers that provide the chance to voice their opinions and quickly climb the ladder.

4. Keep it visual

Unlike other generations, Gen Z doesn’t like to be reached out to on their social media. At least — not direct job-related contact. Instead, engage them with personal content: employee stories about working at the company, profiles, etc. Keep them short and use emojis and other visual content — get the message across as fast as possible.

As another note, Generation Z actually prefers face-to-face interactions, whether they be across FaceTime, Skype, or other platforms. To them, it’s about a personal connection and being able to see who’s on the other end.

5. Provide clear growth paths

A study by Robert Half found that the #1 priority for 64% of Generation Z candidates in their job search was the opportunity for career growth. So showing a clear developmental path from entry-level to the next career level needs to be a must. Developing in-house mentorship programs will save you in the long run by helping to retain Gen Z employees.

Pro tips for attracting Gen Z candidates

1. Focus on an exceptional candidate experience

Gen Z candidates are much less likely than previous generations to do business with a company that they have a poor candidate experience at. Since the candidate experience starts on your website, removing friction from anything as seemingly trivial as non-mobile-friendly career pages and slow communication times are musts.

Using innovative new tech like AI to automate identifying and recruiting candidates, chatbots to provide quick communication, and other tools that smooth the process from resume to interview scheduling can give you a competitive edge when recruiting Gen Z. Adam Robinson discusses using predictive hiring tools in an excellent podcast with Ryan Jenkins here.

2. Understand their priorities for choosing roles

Unlike previous generations, stability is not Gen Z’ers first priority when they apply to and remain in a role. What they’re looking for are roles they can create around themselves, rather than fit themselves into a role. Given the candidate driven market that is a current reality, to choose (and retain) the best, your company needs to be the best. So except when a very specific skill is required, select a candidate whose personality fits the role, rather than their ability — they’ll fit the job and step up.

3. Speak their language

Generation Z is unique: they’re the very first group to be born into a completely digital world. Not only can their brains absorb an immense amount of information, but they can take it instantaneously. As the world gets soaked with more and more information, it needs Gen Z to be able to keep up.

One way you can attract Gen Z candidates is by speaking their language. They want a positive work environment that offers creativity, personal growth, and social connection. As mentioned briefly earlier (tip #2), use social media to showcase your workplace’s culture and to spark discussions. Engage in conversation to actively show that your company offers employees opportunities for meaningful innovation, creativity, connection, and growth.

4. Give them someone/something to relate to

Gen Z candidates don’t relate to Jerry in accounting who’s been there for 25 years — they can’t imagine being with one company that long. Rather than long-term stability, they want work-life balance. You can provide Generation Z candidates with someone to relate to by bringing in Gen Z employees, or have an internship or co-op program to attract them in — and snag them after they graduate.

Start recruiting now

Generation Z is just starting to enter the workforce — but it won’t be that way for long. Soon there’ll be a constant influx of candidates belonging to the Gen Z cohort. You don’t have to — and can’t — change your recruiting strategy overnight, but you can start testing now to see what works. For example, many older workers are on LinkedIn, but younger candidates are more likely to be on Instagram. Test to see where they are and what works — you’ll only wind up more prepared than you would be otherwise, and better off than your competition.

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James Meincke

Director of Marketing @ CloserIQ. Previously Recruiter @ ManpowerGroup & Freelance Social Media Strategist. University of Wisconsin Journalism & Strategic Communication Grad.