How to Tailor Your Recruiting Strategy to Gen Z Applicants

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Most researchers consider the Generation Z workforce to include people born between 1996 and 2010. People from this generation have some broad expectations about their workplaces and jobs, including: 

  • Fair pay and benefits
  • Mental health support
  • A good work-life balance
  • Excellent flexibility
  • Digital-first roles
  • Diverse workplaces

Additionally, people from Generation Z have some behavioral traits and attitudes relevant to recruiters, such as: 

  • Prone to anxiety
  • Likely to leave unsatisfying jobs
  • Less tolerant of authority
  • Appreciative of flexibility
  • Love interesting work
  • Ready to embrace change
  • Want empathy from bosses
  • More pessimistic than previous generations

How can you consider all these things and successfully recruit Gen Z workers?

Offer Financial Stability

Gen Z workers will be more motivated to perform well if they’re confident their employers will offer the necessary financial stability that allows them to thrive rather than feel constantly worried about layoffs

A 2024 study found that 44% of Gen Z respondents aimed to feel financially comfortable as one of their broad career ambitions. The same research also indicated workers from this generation may be quietly forming action plans to use if they find themselves unexpectedly unemployed. For example, nearly 36% viewed freelancing as a good backup option if they lost their jobs. 

Elsewhere, as Gen Z members prepared to enter the workforce through paid internships, many said they expected to remain with companies after interning with them. 

When college junior Cassidy Case interviewed for her 2023 summer internships, she mentioned her expectations of securing full-time jobs with those companies by the time she graduates in 2024. Case also discusses her career goals in interviews and asks whether companies have the budgets to hire high-performing interns for full-time positions. 

Recruiters can win Gen Z applicants over by being as transparent as possible about their long-term prospects. When these subjects arise, try to have honest answers ready, and never make promises. Do everything you can to set accurate expectations while being honest about how things could change when someone secures an internship and tries to transition into full-time employment. 

You can also emphasize financial stability beyond a paycheck. For example, retirement programs help people save for the future while reducing their tax burdens. Alternatively, if you’re recruiting for a company that offers generous paid time off, those perks could help people feel more relaxed about taking vacations without jeopardizing their budgets. 

Showcase Genuine Sustainability Commitments

Sustainability has become a hot topic, but it encompasses more areas than some people realize. They include: 

  • Ending unnecessary resource usage
  • Mandating fair labor practices 
  • Investing in clean energy sources
  • Prioritizing gender equality
  • Building infrastructure while reducing emissions
  • Exploring ways to reuse or recycle products

Sustainability was a prominent theme in a 2023 survey that involved Gen Z and millennial workers from 44 countries. The results revealed that more than half of respondents research a company’s environmental impact and policies before accepting positions. Additionally, over one-third have declined to work with employers due to value mismatches.

The survey’s respondents are already feeling anxious due to climate-related concerns. One in six have switched jobs or sectors because of them, and approximately 25% plan to do so. Additionally, 60% felt climate anxiety within the previous month, and about the same percentage felt stressed about extreme weather events. 

Gen Z applicants won’t accept nonspecific environmental pledges from companies that have captured their attention. Instead, they want concrete details about what business leaders have done and will do to make positive sustainability changes. 

Helping applicants see the sustainable impacts of their work is also a wise strategy. One real-life example comes from the sanitation district of Los Angeles County. Decision-makers previously kept quiet about what happened to waste generated by the 5.5 million people in the jurisdiction because no one wanted to hear the details. 

Now, things have changed. A major part of the recruitment process for Gen Z applicants involves focusing on the district’s role in turning waste into renewable and reusable resources. Leaders also recognize the importance of having proof to support their claims. Take inspiration from that example when determining the most authentic ways to appeal to sustainability-minded Gen Zers.

Build a Diverse Company

Company diversity is an often-discussed topic among C-suite members. Many businesses now aim to gradually create more diverse and inclusive workplaces. Such efforts should resonate strongly with Gen Z applicants.

One 2023 study found that 73% of Gen Z would choose to work at companies prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion. The global research surveyed more than 5,000 working adults. Some of the takeaways not specific to Gen Z were insightful for those recruiting this group. For example, only 6% of respondents had not felt inequities in their workplaces. Additionally, 77% of LGBTQ+ workers did not feel comfortable sharing identity-related details at work. 

These issues echo the room for improvement found elsewhere. Consider how women only hold 22% of tech-related positions. The percentage is lower for people of color. There’s no quick way to fix these problems, although multifaceted solutions will help. 

Recruiters that highlight instances of company leaders making authentic, progressive improvements should help Gen Z applicants feel confident in accepting employment offers. Additionally, consider mentioning possibilities that would allow a person to get directly involved in making their workplace more diverse and inclusive. Hearing about those opportunities could excite people about the company’s future and their place in it. 

Focus on Remote Working and Flexible Options

You can also win over Gen Z applicants by discussing remote work possibilities and other flexible arrangements. Those could include: 

  • Allowing people to work four-day weeks
  • Permitting employees to work from abroad
  • Giving flexibility about starting and ending times
  • Providing hybrid working plans when feasible

Research from 2023 showed that 89% of American workers prefer flexible options like those. Additionally, 93% of Gen Z workers would like companies to offer at least one flexible possibility. Furthermore, 83% of that same group would support four-day workweeks, and 92% of those supporters would sacrifice something to have them.

Another 2023 study revealed some other particularly important aspects for Gen Z workers. Most were OK with IT teams remotely troubleshooting their computers, with 90% saying they’d let it happen during their own remote workdays. Additionally, 92% expected to work at companies that offered immediate and effective support for productivity challenges. 

Many companies now help teams maximize their productivity with specialized software that includes timesheets, scheduling tools and more. Such tools are particularly useful for remote workers in numerous time zones or parts of the world. Recruiters, managers, and others should identify the overlapping periods that allow most employees to participate in group activities. 

If you use a timed test or similar strategy in your recruitment process, always customize the details to reflect the applicant’s local time zone. Otherwise, the individual could become confused, get overly stressed, and believe the company is not well-equipped to manage a distributed workforce

Use Social Media Platforms to Advertise Jobs and Recruit

Catching the attention of Gen Z applicants means establishing as broad a reach as possible, which still involves relying on social media when appropriate. A 2022 study found that 62% of Gen Z applicants discovered jobs through such channels. That same research indicated that 66% of Gen Z workers would be willing to share employer-related information on their personal social media channels. 

What about when recruiters must fill positions that presumably require people to stay tight-lipped about their work? Things are changing in that regard, too. 

Lisa Maddox worked at the CIA for 10 years and said the agency encourages most of its officers to have a social media presence because it seems strange if someone doesn’t. She also speculated that many Gen Z users’ vast social networks are a sort of blessing because it’s hard to tell who their close friends are, negating possible exposure. 

Writing Posts That Get Noticed for the Right Reasons

When writing job posts for social media, remember people’s short attention spans and how they scroll through content quickly. Use a combination of graphics, short paragraphs, and bullet points to increase the chances of catching people’s attention and helping them notice the main takeaways about the position and company. 

Rachel Poole is a senior social media manager with AgencyUK. She suggests that brands use platforms such as TikTok to help Gen Z applicants have deeper connections with companies than traditional advertising offers. Poole continued by explaining how people from Gen Z can spot inauthentic marketing due to having grown up in the digital age. They want meaningful connections, and thoughtfully created social media posts can help nurture them. 

Suppose the recruitment efforts lead to hiring someone with an exceptionally strong social media presence. That’s a great reason to talk with them about how they could become a company ambassador with some of their posts.

Prioritize Well-Being

A company’s job description might mention that the organizational culture emphasizes workers’ well-being, but is it true? If not, some employees might look for better opportunities. According to a 2024 study of Gen Z and millennial respondents, 71% would quit their jobs tomorrow for options that better support their well-being. 

Investing more in well-being at work could also benefit the respective companies. That’s because 69% of those polled believed they’d be more productive with improved well-being. This aspect was so important to some that 31% would consider accepting pay cuts in exchange for happier and healthier work environments. 

Creating a well-being-centered work could involve several strategies, including:

  • Encouraging employees not to respond to work communications when off the clock
  • Being receptive to team members’ requests for more manageable workloads
  • Letting people set work schedules that suit obligations in their personal lives
  • Prioritizing the fair and manageable distribution of tasks across teams
  • Maintaining a safe environment for employees to mention their struggles
  • Allowing people to take workday breaks for doctor’s appointments
  • Offering healthy snacks for employees to enjoy on their breaks 

Emphasizing Wellness for Police Officers

When the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office in Texas needed to ramp up recruitment efforts, they targeted Gen Z applicants with a well-being focus. People can spend up to one hour of their workdays in the gym, provided call volumes are low enough. There’s also a peer support service, and people can access outside counseling. 

Sheriff Mike Gleason oversees the Williamson County Jail and says his department had officer wellness packages long before such options became trendy. He mentioned that what’s happening now is a rebranding of older ideas to fit the expectations of younger generations. 

An ongoing site renovation will result in a secure room officers can use for relaxation. It will include leather chairs, internet access, and TVs, helping people make the most of their downtime. 

Maintaining a healthy diet with regular meal times is also important for well-being. Jail workers can enjoy an on-site cafeteria and convenience store with a wide range of food options. 

This multifaceted approach to well-being is a helpful model to follow when determining the best ways to show Gen Z applicants — and others — that well-being is genuinely important in the workplace and employers are doing more than going through box-checking exercises. 

Succeed With Gen Z Recruitment

Connecting with Gen Z applicants requires a particular understanding of the tendencies, expectations, and priorities seen by many within this group. These research takeaways, expert opinions, and case studies will help you create appropriate recruiting strategies for candidates in this generation.

Article by:
Editor at ReHack
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