This graduation season means more of Gen Z are pouring into the workforce. Born between the mid-90’s and the early 00’s, they’re a huge group. 72.8 million strong, they’ll be 20% of the workforce in less than 3 years.
So, guess what? Your recruiting strategy is going to have to change — again.
Surprised? Probably not.
Still catching your breath after rearranging the entire world of work for Gen Y?
Yeah … get ready to do more of that.
Put Gen Z in context
This post 9 -11 generation had internet and smartphones in utero. As the truest digital natives, they make even millennials look like digital immigrants. They also happen to be the offspring of — WAIT FOR IT — Gen X: A notoriously small, yet ferociously independent group that really did put in the time, physically go to the office, work during the great recession, perform without much recognition … and is running out of patience for boomers to give up a little room in the C suite.
While everyone was busy leaving them alone to do their own thing, Gen X have been quietly shaping the values and expectations of this next massive generation. As such, Gen Z are also independent, ridiculously self-sufficient and not afraid to do the work. Apple doesn’t fall far, right?
Even though Gen Z share strong similarities with Gen Y, like aspiring to make a difference and having strong entrepreneurial tendencies, Gen Z introduces/re-kindles a different priority list (or a different list of stereotypes – in all honesty, I hate sweeping generalizations, and it’s not lost on me this article has a bit of that).
So let’s break down some of the biggest differences you’ll face, and how you should reframe the conversations you’re beginning to have with this giant, DIY-driven talent tsunami.
Surviving over thriving
Where millennials may place a premium on self development and mentoring, even entertaining a small pay cut if the role/company aligns with their values, Gen Z wants us to put our money where our mouth is.
They rank pay and job security at the top. They still prioritize loving their work and finding purpose, but they don’t feel compelled to constantly search for the next move. Instead, they seem to be searching for a more SECURE path they can grow into. On average, they expect to work for four organizations during their career.
What this means for your conversations: Someone call security! If you are focusing your employment value pitch on “the ability to develop your skills and advance financially,” you need to add this critical piece to the story: “without the need to job hop in order to do it.”
Then, make sure you communicate clear career paths that span years, not months. (Preferably using videos — on YouTube.)
Competing over collaborating
Gen Z loves their big, diverse, mobile-enabled friend network. But as much as Gen FOMO participates in an endless Snapchat story, when it comes to work, they compete to win.
72% say they are competitive if doing the same job. They are products of the Great Recession and they are in touch with the reality that people do indeed lose — often. They embrace their independence, want to own their projects and expect you to judge (and recognize) them straight up for their own merits and individual talents.
What this means for your conversations: Frame stories about career development by making an explicit connection between advancement and performance. When you frame stories about projects, prioritize ownership and responsibility as key themes ahead of teamwork and group recognition.
DIY(ing) over debt
This just might be the first generation who doesn’t buy the college dream. As they watch Gen Y claw at their future in student loan mittens, they’re sharpening their own skills with increasing options for online learning. In addition, their special combo of low key patience and high key entrepreneurial spirit makes the concept of learning while doing … right nowway more attractive than learning in a classroom for the next four years or so.
What this means for your conversations: Some of the best and brightest of Gen Z may simply choose to skip college entirely, so don’t assume you’ll be connecting with this generation at traditional touch points like college fairs or internships.
Plan to connect with them earlier (think high school), and start thinking about reaching them where they are more likely to notice you — influencers on their social channels might be a start.
Bonus: If you offer perks that help employees save money, like a 401(k) plan, communicate the heck out of that — saving is a big deal for this group.
As we enter graduation season and begin connecting with our future workforce, recruiting teams should continue to explore, test and iterate on their recruiting strategy. While many newer tactics like digital storytelling and candidate nurturing will remain effective, refinement should be on your radar.
Just as consumer marketing teams are preparing to court this generation differently, you’ll need to sharpen your message and it’s delivery both to resonate with them, and to get their ever elusive attention.
Ready to take your recruiting into the next generation? See all the ways that Breezy HR can help you modernize your recruiting process.