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October 3, 2022

In the Weeds with Gen Z: 8 Ways to Attract and Retain the Internet Generation

The letter z in the jungle

Hiring Gen Zers? Congrats! You’re one of the brave souls entering a still largely uncharted talent territory. 

As the new kids on the block, Gen Zers are only just making their mark on the working world. But as they follow in the footsteps of the trailblazing Millennials who came before them (think: remote working, flexi-time and human-first hiring) the one thing that’s guaranteed as Gen Z settles in, is even more radical changes.

To create a recruitment strategy that will help attract and retain the next generation of workers, you need to appeal to Gen Z — and it’s not as easy as it looks. Keeping Gen Z engaged on a professional-but-fun level means using the right communication channels, zhuzhing up your job descriptions, and taking a hard look at your hiring process

For more advice on how to create a recruitment strategy that will appeal specifically to Gen Z candidates during their job search, read on for the best strategies, tactics and proven tips.

Gen Z candidates at a glance…👀

  • Zeroing in on zoomers
  • What jobs does Gen Z want most?
  • 8 ways to win with Gen Z

Did you know that Gen Z is the most diverse generation in the workforce today? We joined forces with HR expert Stacey Gordon to deliver a (totally free!) 5-part mini-course on inclusive recruiting to help you nail your Gen Z recruiting, hiring and onboarding strategy! 🙌🏾

Zeroing in on zoomers: What does this generation want in a job?

Making up 24% of job seekers and rising, Gen Z is the newest cohort of younger workers to join the ranks. As they begin to enter the workforce, it’s time to get an ironclad recruitment plan in place. 💪🏽

But before we dive in, let’s start with a little background. 

Born between 1996 and 2010, members of Gen Z are digital natives. This means they’ve had their hands on portable technology (and the internet) since they were little, and they’re experts at navigating the digital space. It just comes naturally to them.

Because Gen Zs have been steeped in the global marketplace of ideas, inspiration and commerce since they could walk, they know the possibilities are endless. And they’re ready to make their mark.

With the right applicant tracking system, you can give an immediate “hey, thanks!” to each and every new candidate who applies to work with you. Check out Breezy’s easy automated emailing, totally free for 14 days!

What jobs does Gen Z want most?

For many Gen Z workers, the runway to the job market has been anything but smooth.

Many graduated during the pandemic and immediately entered a remote workforce where it’s a whole lot harder to tap into hands-on mentorship and other professional nuances. 

Maybe that’s why Gen Z tends to prefer roles that give them a shot at shaping company culture, while also having a strong social impact. According to a recent Glassdoor study, the highest rated jobs by Gen Z were corporate recruiter, marketing manager and social media manager.

But those are far from the only roles they’re interested in.

Highest Rated Jobs for Gen Z’: Glassdoor Economic Research

While other generations may also have a strong handle on technology — not to mention an affinity for filtered Insta pics of their daily coffee (millennials and Gen Z have that in common) — Gen Z candidates have different preferences when it comes to job-hunting. And if Gen Z candidates notice that a company’s recruiting strategy is outdated, they’re a lot less likely to apply. 

So take this as a sign. If you’re still using landlines and requiring typed cover letters yet hoping to attract the younger generation, it’s time to rethink your recruiting methods. ☎️❌

The Gen Z talent market is growing fast, and they know their worth. 

In fact, according to a global study by the Workforce Institute, Gen Zers believe that they're the ‘hardest working generation’ yet. With that kind of confidence, they won’t settle for less than the best. And in this tight labor market, you can’t afford to be at the bottom of the ladder. 

So how can you make sure your recruiting strategy rises to the top? 🪜

8 ways to win with Gen Z 🏆

First things first. When it comes to hiring Gen Z candidates, you need to know how to market your employer brand to appeal to the younger crowd. 

While this may seem daunting (especially if it’s been a while since you refreshed your careers page 😬), consider it an opportunity to test out those out-of-the-box recruitment strategies you’ve been stewing over. 

From emoji-friendly job descriptions to mental health days, here are a few of the things to consider when fleshing out your Gen Z-approved recruitment strategy.

1. Keep trusted mentors in mind

Gen Zers are new to the working world and when they have concerns about which job offer to accept or which benefits package looks the juiciest, they’re going to turn to a trusted mentor for help. 

Whether it’s a parent, teacher, or other trusted guardian, many Gen Zers are looking for grown-up advice on career moves. So while you need to cater to your candidates first and foremost, keep parent-approved benefits in mind too.

Before you add morale-boosting benefits like free snacks and comped gym memberships, make sure you have a robust package that includes tried-and-true benefits like healthcare, retirement, and paid vacation time. Not only will you earn the trusted mentor stamp of approval, but you’ll also please the 2-to-1 ratio of Gen Zers who prioritize traditional benefits.

2. Offer wellness-centered benefits

Once you have a robust core benefits package in place, add on additional perks where you can. To attract and retain Gen Z candidates, opt for thoughtful benefits that show you’re invested in your employees’ wellbeing.

For example, consider offering a health and wellness stipend à la Recharge Payments. At Recharge, a recurring health and wellness stipend is automatically added to the second paycheck of each month. This stipend can be used for anything from massages to gym memberships to grocery bills, and it works wonders for employee morale. 

“Having that extra bit of income every single month on top of your base goes to show just how much the company cares about the employees,” says Lo Well, Recharge’s talent acquisition partner. And their Gen Z employees have been loving it.

3. Stay flexible

Another benefit that definitely appeals to Gen Zers is flexibility. 

For this cohort of workers, flexible (yet stable) schedules are a must. In fact, according to the previously mentioned Workforce Institute study, over 20% of Gen Z workers want a consistent schedule that doesn’t change on a dime. 

But one in five Gen Zers also expect flexibility, working harder and staying longer at companies that respect their busy lifestyles. To keep things fluid, opt for a combination remote/in-person work environment, or offer mental health days to give employees a brain break when necessary. 

4. Transform interns into full-timers

Often the best employees are the ones you already have. 

If you want to transform your Gen Z newbies into full-timers, you need to first keep this generation engaged during their internship or entry-level position. But how?

According to Andrea Mejia, technical recruiter manager at Checkr, Gen Z wants a defined pathway to success. 

“They want a plan. They want career growth, but they also want a pathway to get there,” she explains. 

So when it comes to professional development opportunities, make sure to show, not tell. Be ready to answer hard-hitting questions about promotions, development opportunities, and growth budgets for things like conferences.

It’s all about ownership and impact. Rather than just doling out tasks, help your interns or entry-level workers to see the impact of the work they’re doing. This generation wants to understand how they’re going to learn, grow and impact the company rather than just checking items off a to-do list.

Also, make sure to foster connections and create opportunities for inter-office friendship. That way, “when it does come time to convert to a full-time employee, they are excited about that and they already have relationships built and they’d rather stay and continue to grow their career than look for something else,” Andrea explains.

5. Keep outreach fun, but don’t dumb it down

When it comes to writing compelling job descriptions, it’s hard to strike a balance between professional and approachable. And when it comes to piquing young hires’ interest, the line between fun and condescending can get blurry. 

While emojis, gifs, and memes can definitely spice things up, don’t defang your job description to try and win over younger applicants. Keep it fun if that’s your style, but be sure you don’t sacrifice professional quality. 

The trick is to offer a detailed job description while still allowing your brand personality to shine through. This will show them that your company is a professional space in which they can grow, but also one with a friendly vibe and strong workplace culture. 

Also, keep in mind that short and sweet isn’t always better. 

Providing details upfront makes it easier for applicants to envision themselves at your company. Keep it skimmable with a quick paragraph about your workplace values and culture — with as many bullet points as you need to keep it digestible. 

6. Motivate with meaning

According to Michael Lantry, CEO of IT recruitment agency GemPool, Gen Z candidates want a community, not just a workplace. “Gen-Z candidates are looking to work in companies that have values that align with their own personal values. It's not about a job, it's about an experience.” 

In essence, times have changed. And this next batch of hireable grads expects better.

“Employers need to focus on building an employee value proposition that resonates with the type of candidates that they wish to hire,” says Michael. 

“Candidates are looking for that work-life balance and flexibility is a huge factor in whether or not they are willing to work at a company. Employers need to realize this and adapt.” 

Mission is important for working Gen Zers, but connecting their role in the company to the larger vision is equally important. Show Gen Z that they can stay and grow at your company rather than stagnate, and use values and skill-oriented messaging that emphasizes culture add.

“Gen Z has the most access to information,” says Gillaine Vinh, a technical recruiter at Square. With near-constant access to TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other platforms, Gen Z is “seeing, more than ever, how companies are treating their employees during the recession and during these hiring freezes.” These issues are highly visible, so make sure to walk the walk rather than just talk the talk when it comes to building community. 

7. Emphasize stability in a time of volatility

According to Lo Well of Recharge Payments, Gen Zers are looking for stability in the face of uncertainty. Companies are downsizing and there’s a recession on the horizon. Gen Z candidates want to know their position is stable.

“We live in very uncertain times right now,” says Lo, “and I have a lot of empathy for anyone who is graduating college and entering the workforce.” 

Many Gen Z-ers have childhood memories of the 2008 recession, and they’re looking for stability and safety in the face of another recession on the horizon.

“It’s near-impossible to predict the future,” Lo admits. 

“We don’t have crystal balls, but talking about the amount of stability your company has had so far can help.” 

Emphasizing funding, revenue, projected growth, and senior leadership’s recession-proofing plans shows young hires that their position at the company is stable, not precarious.

And even if your company experiences a bump in the road, transparency goes a long way. 

Take Peloton, for example. Though they had to lay off employees in a post-pandemic downturn, the company remained transparent throughout the process and went out of their way to help former employees land stellar new jobs. 

The Peloton team even created spreadsheets with employee info like names, roles, LinkedIn accounts, remote/hybrid preferences, and more before sharing it with recruiters at other companies looking to snap up ex-Peloton talent. 

By putting real effort into helping their former employees land top-notch gigs, Peloton soothes the burn of a layoff with powerful endorsements and connection building. Gen Zers and other candidates will appreciate the effort, viewing your company as one that takes care of its own — no matter the circumstances. 🤝🏻

8. Keep it quick

With the world at their literal fingertips (shout out to touchscreens 📱), a key term for Gen Zers is ‘instant gratification’. 

Fact of the matter is, each generation is faster-paced than the last. That’s why it’s super important to make sure no candidate has to wait around for an answer.

To engage Gen Z candidates right off the bat, keep a close eye on your time-to-fill targets and aim to get an answer to candidates ASAP. Young candidates don't want to wait a month to know if they got the job, and a delayed recruiter response is a major turn-off for 44% of Gen Zers according to the Workforce Institute findings. Plus, if you drag out the process too long, they’ll likely receive other offers in the meantime.

One of the easiest ways to engage Gen Z is by recruiting via text message. Using the Breezy SMS feature, you can instantly schedule interviews and connect with candidates. With pre-set templates that trigger when a candidate enters a new hiring stage, text recruiting with Breezy is lightning-fast and easy-peasy. ⚡

Get in good with the global generation

Any HR pro worth their salt knows Gen Zers are the next candidates to watch. Baby boomers are on their way into retirement, Millennials are weaving their way into high-level roles and Gen Zers are poised to join the ranks of workin’ folks everywhere.

Whether you take the time to convert your interns into full-timers or freshen up your job ads with some tasteful emojis, empathy is perhaps the most important tool in your toolbox when it comes to recruiting zoomers. Taking the time to understand where they’re coming from, what they want from a job, and what they value in a workplace goes a long way in attracting and retaining Gen Z employees.

Because when it comes to engaging Gen Z candidates, speed, quality and fresh ideas are at the top of the list. To stay ahead of the curve and create a recruitment process that’ll appeal to the global generation, Breezy’s got your back! Our simple, visual applicant tracking system can help you streamline your recruitment process and encourage top talent to stick around. See for yourself with a free 14-day trial.