The 2019 Yello Recruiting Study

Introducing the First Graduating Class of Generation Z

Get ready to meet the newest generation of talent to enter the workplace: Generation Z. While these 18 to 22-year-old candidates share many things in common with preceding generations, the conditions of their high-tech upbringings have shaped the way they think about and approach employment. The 2019 Yello Recruiting Study compares Millennial students and Generation Z students to find out what college recruiters need to know to attract Generation Z employees and hire this new wave of talent.

The Generations Surveyed

  • Generation Z: 18 – 22 year olds who are full-time or part time students in 4-year or graduate degree programs.
  • Millennials: 23 – 38 year olds who are full-time or part time students in 4-year or graduate degree programs.

Read on to find out what to expect from the first graduating class of Generation Z, how they’re different (and similar) from their Millennial counterparts and what they’re looking for from you as their first employer.

Find out everything you need to know as Gen Z enters the workforce.

Chapter 1

Introducing the First Graduating Class of Generation Z

Before diving into the differences between Millennials and Generation Z, here’s a quick primer on what to expect as these 18-22 year-olds enter the workforce.

Generation Z College Majors

The most popular majors among the members of Generation Z are science and social sciences. 30% of the members of Generation Z major in these fields, while just over one in ten major in business.

Generation Z College Majors

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Generation Z Job Expectations

About two-thirds of Generation Z students are confident they’ll receive an offer when they graduate.

Generation Z Job Expectations

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Quick Facts

  • 2 of 3 Generation Z business majors expect to receive more than one offer.
  • Half of Gen Z computer science and engineering majors expect to receive multiple offers.
  • For non-STEM majors like communications or political science, 7 in 10 of the members of Generation Z are worried about finding a job.
  • 3 in 4 Generation Z education majors expect to receive at least one offer.

They Start the Job Search Early

A quarter of Generation Z students start their job search freshman/sophomore year and half start junior/senior year. Only one in ten wait until after graduation.

When Gen Z-ers Start the Job Search

Figure 1: Generation Z College Majors TITLE

Generation Z Salary Expectations

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Generation Z Salary Expectations

When it comes to salary, Generation Z’s expectations are spread across the board. These first-time employees aren’t sure what to expect when it comes time for salary negotiations.

Chapter 2

Technology Has Not Killed Face-to-Face Communication

Despite growing up with always-on high-speed internet and ever-present mobile devices, the members of Generation Z are surprisingly predisposed to a more personal style of communication. In fact, research shows they value highly personal—oftentimes face-to-face—interaction.  

Generation Z Communication Preferences

Despite their fluency in digital communication technologies, Gen Z candidates appreciate authentic, human connections. More than half say they value face-to-face communication, and just one in four expresses a preference for digital communication.

51% of respondents prefer to communicate face-to-face and 25% prefer digital communication

Most Valuable Job-Search Sources

When it comes to the sources of information they trust most to direct and inform their job searches, Gen Z candidates value referrals from a company’s current or former employees more than any other option.

Generation Z’s Most Valuable Job-Search Sources

Graph showing where respondents are most likely to look for jobs

Gen Z candidates also hold the information they receive from face-to-face conversations at college career centers and hiring events in very high esteem. They rank these sources nearly twice as high as their Millennial counterparts.

Career Centers and Hiring Events

Chart showing Gen Z searches for jobs at career centers and hiring events more than millennials do

Chart showing how much of an impact recruiters have on Gen Z and Millennials' decision to accept a job

The Recruiter Matters Most

Gen Z candidates put so much faith in the value of face-to-face communication that they rank the recruiters they worked with during employment-option decision making higher than any other possible factor. This trusted advisor is ranked five times higher than technology and almost four times higher than a speedy interview process. This is especially notable because Millennial Students rank recruiters number-one on the impact they can make on their future job decisions only 29% of the time.

Perception of Unfair Treatment Will Sour the Experience

Despite the goodwill Gen Z candidates feel towards recruiters, they’ll sour on the candidate experience if they feel as though they’ve been treated unfairly during any portion of the process. 

Although no one likes to feel disrespected, Generation Z cites poor treatment as a top cause of a negative candidate experience more frequently than Millennials. In fact, three-quarters of the members of Generation Z surveyed cite being treated unfairly as the top cause of a negative experience, whereas only about half of Millennial candidates feel the same.

73% of Gen Z and 52% of Millennials say being treated unfairly and without respect is the top factor that leads to a negative experience

From Tactical Recruiter to Trusted Advisor

The members of Generation Z rank the connections they develop with their recruiters higher than any other component of the candidate experience. Recruitment technology that automates day-to-day tasks empowers recruiters to focus on being trusted advisors who can provide the kind of white-glove service Gen Z candidates crave, while fulfilling the needs of the business. Transform from a tactical recruiter to trusted advisor by:

  • Building relationships with passive candidates through phone check-ins, coffee meet-ups and email engagement
  • Collaborating closely with hiring managers to understand their challenges and pinpointing candidates who can solve these difficulties
  • Anticipating hiring needs and proactively sourcing talent to fill predicted gaps
  • Coaching top talent through the hiring process, providing frequent updates, insights and feedback from interview team members
  • Selling candidates on the opportunity through every stage of the hiring process by conveying passion for the organization and role

More than one-third of HR professionals surveyed report they don’t have enough time to engage candidates.

Find out why in the 2019 Yello Recruiting Study > 

Chapter 3

Generation Z Demands Technology: A Top-Notch Tech Stack is Essential

Don’t mistake Generation Z’s communication preferences for a rejection of technology. This generation respects and admires the technology that makes life easier, and it has little tolerance for those who refuse to adapt to the times. As Generation Z enters the workplace, they demand a conspicuous use of technology from potential employers, so college recruiters better be ready to impress with top-notch tech stacks.

Mobile Applications on the Rise

Born in a digital revolution and raised on modern technological conveniences, Generation Z is ready for you to make its job search easier to manage. Nearly half of all Gen Z candidates have already applied to a job opportunity from a mobile phone, so don’t be surprised if outdated HR technologies feel old-hat to these tech connoisseurs.

Figure 1: Generation Z College Majors TITLE

46% of Gen Z candidates have applied for a job/internship from a mobile device

Generation Z Demands Technology

Figure 1: Generation Z College Majors TITLE

54% of respondents won't complete an application if your recruiting methods are outdated. 26% agree that a lack of tech throughout the hiring process would deter them from accepting a job.

No Technology, No Accepted Offer

It pays to use recruitment technology that projects a high-tech image of your company. If Generation Z candidates feel your recruiting methods are old-fashioned, you risk losing more than half of your potential candidates in the application process. Also, even some of the candidates who are willing to proceed with outmoded applications will change their mind about wanting to work with you at offer time if a lack of technology has left them unimpressed at the end of the hiring process.

How many members of the Generation X and Millennial generations will refuse an offer due to unimpressive technology?

Learn More in The 2019 Yello Recruiting Study > 

Chapter 4

It’s Not Possible to Over-Communicate with Generation Z

If you want your Generation Z candidates to have a positive candidate experience, make sure they know their standing at every step. Keep the lines of communication open throughout the recruitment and hiring processes. Gen Z candidates want transparency, and if you want to bring them on as your next class of entry-level employees, transparency is what you’ll have to deliver.

Similar to Millennials, Gen Z Seeks Transparency

Understand that transparency is a valued trait among Generation Z and Millennials. These candidates consider themselves forthright and candid.

Don’t leave your candidates in the dark. Both Gen Z and Millennial job seekers appreciate regular updates from recruiters.

Figure 1: Generation Z College Majors TITLE

60% of GenZ and 57% of Millennials say "values transparency" is a trait that applies to them

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68% of Gen Z and 65% of Millennials rank transparent communication as the 1st or 2nd mot important component of the candidate experience

Lack of Communication Can Signal Lack of Respect

Candidates across all generations want to be treated fairly throughout the recruiting process, but Gen Z candidates are especially likely to equate a low volume of communication with a lack of respect. Because Gen Z ranks the need for respect at a higher rate than any other generation, coach campus recruiters on leading with empathy and fairness in candidate engagement. Developing a culture of respect can go a long way with soon-to-be graduates.

Go inside the minds of Generation X, Millennial and Generation Z job seekers to find out what makes each generation tick.

Download The 2019 Yello Recruiting Study > 

Chapter 5

Generation Z Knows What It Wants—And Wants It NOW

Generation Z has a well-earned reputation for demanding instant gratification. You can try to hold this against them, or you can figure out ways to meet their expectations.

Your Gen Z Candidate Expected to Hear From You Yesterday

Generation Z likes its communication SPEEDY. Its members rank texting as their top recruitment-process communication method nearly twice as often as Millennials.

Figure 1: Generation Z College Majors TITLE

11% of Gen Z and 6% of Millennials prefer to communicate with recruiters via text

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15% of Gen Z and 9% of Millennials say calls to schedule interviews are the most frustrating part of the hiring process

Instant Gratification Includes Interview Scheduling

When recruiters can’t quickly and efficiently make interview appointments, Generation Z candidates are more than twice as likely to become frustrated as their Millennial counterparts.

Five Days from First Interview to Final Offer

There are no two ways about it—college recruiters have to move fast if they want to impress Generation Z. Nearly one in five Gen Z candidates say the ideal amount of time for an employer to make a hiring decision, from first interview to final offer, is less than one week.

Figure 1: Generation Z College Majors TITLE

17% of respondents say an offer should be extended less than a week from the first interview

Add Texting to Your Recruitment Toolbox

Although email communication remains a reliable way to reach candidates of all generations, text messaging allows you to deliver important recruitment messaging to candidates wherever they happen to be. In the context of career fairs and live recruiting events, text messaging can be the key to sharing timely and relevant messages that are received and opened at the point of delivery.

Go inside the minds of Generation Z.

Download The 2019 Yello Recruiting Study >

Chapter 6

Generation Z In The Workplace

Unlike preceding generations, job seekers in Generation Z are not necessarily moved by the prospect of larger salaries. Of course, money remains important, but smart recruiters will know that attempts to sway Gen Z candidates with real responsibility, meaningful work, and opportunities for future advancement equally important.

Gen Z-ers Less Likely to Counter Your Offer

Heads up! Millennials are much more likely than members of Generation Z to use today’s low unemployment rate as a point of leverage in salary negotiations.

Figure 1: Generation Z College Majors TITLE

49% of Gen Z and 70% of millennials will use the current low unemployment rate and strong labor market as leverage for a higher salary

Millennials Becoming Savvy Members of the Workforce

As Millennials move up in their careers and more become managers, they are transforming into savvy members of the workforce and understand that today’s low unemployment rates can be beneficial to their bank accounts. Millennials are rising in their careers, taking on more responsibility and see an opportunity to be rewarded in today’s historic job market.

Members of Generation Z, on the other hand, are just beginning their careers. This inexperience makes them less likely to seek out higher salaries.

Figure 1: Generation Z College Majors TITLE

While GenZ and Millennials both think of salary and work-life balance as their first and second priorities, Gen Z classifies Job Duties & Projects as a third priority while Millennials believe career growth opportunities to be next most important

Meaningful Work More Important than Growth

While Millennials and Generation Z agree that salary and work-life balance are important when considering whether or not to accept a job, their agreement ends there. Millennials rank career growth (upward ladder advancement to earn a higher salary) as the next most important consideration while Gen Z candidates value job duties and projects (they want to know what they’re working on will be meaningful).

First-Choice Companies Win Out

Be sure to pull Gen Z candidates into your talent communities early so you can nurture relationships and establish stronger connections with your employer brand. The effort will pay dividends because once a Gen Z candidate decides you are their first-choice employer, they will be more tenacious than Millennials in trying to win your offer. In fact, if you were determined to be the first-choice employer, one in three Gen Z-ers would be willing to wait for your hiring decision even if another company were to make an employment offer with attractive salary first.

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33% of Genz and 23% of Millennials would wait for a possible offer from their first-choice company even if they received an offer from their second-choice company

Shorter Tenures are Here to Stay

Understand that Gen Z candidates have big plans for their futures—and those plans frequently don’t include their first employers. Because more than half of Generation Z plans to move on from their first jobs in three years or less, recruiters would be wise to present detailed career band information that shows a path for promotion and growth within the organization. Failing to do so could result in increased turnover.

Respondents who plan to work for their current employer for less than 3 years

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Respondents who plan to work for their current employer for 5 years or more

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Looking for more information on how to attract Generation Z to your company?

Download The 2019 Yello Recruiting Study


Yello partnered with SurveyMonkey Audience, SurveyMonkey’s global market research panel, to survey full-time employees and students in a variety of generations in February 2019. The report surveyed 150 Gen Z students, 150 student millennials, 150 employed millennials, 150 Gen X employees and 100 HR professionals. All age ranges for generations were determined by Pew Research’s definitions. Generation Z students and Millennial students are included in the report you are currently reading. Download the full report for data on employed Millennials and Generation X.