Gen Z is the newest cohort to join the working ranks. Born between 1997 and 2012, this generation is just leaving college and is already making changes to the way we hire and recruit. Meeting them on their own terms could mean successfully attracting and retaining the largest generation of workers ever born in the US.

So who exactly are these new job seekers? Read on to learn everything you need to know about recruiting Generation Z: 

Meet Generation Z job seekers

Before diving into job search preferences, the differences between Generation Z and millennial recruiting and more, here’s a quick primer on what to expect as Generation Z college students enter the workforce:

Key insights include: 

  • The most popular majors among the members of Generation Z are science and psychology.
  • About two-thirds of Generation Z students are confident they’ll receive an offer when they graduate.
  • 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 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.

Generation Z is digital. They don’t recall a world without the internet, smartphones or video games. They have been exposed to the global marketplace of ideas and commerce. These workers know the possibilities are endless, and intend to make their mark. 

Gen Z job seekers also know their value: a Kronos study revealed almost one third believe they are the ‘hardest working generation’ ever: another 36% say they ‘have it the hardest’ when entering the workforce compared to those before them. Only 4 in 10 believe that their education has prepared them for the working world, and rightfully so — 65% of students in primary school today will end up in jobs that don’t exist yet. Organizations aware of these trends can better attract and retain Gen Z.

Millennials vs. Generation Z: key recruiting differences

While many lump the youngest generations of talent together, the difference between millennials and Generation Z is starker than you may think. Yes, both generations are digital natives and active social media users. But when it comes to looking for jobs, their preferences can vary greatly. These are the key recruiting differences to keep in mind when attracting and hiring millennial and Gen Z candidates:

Generation ZMillennials
College majorGen Z’s most popular college majors are science, healthcare, and psychology/social science. Engineering is on the rise: the number of engineering majors has doubled between Gen X and Gen Z. Millennials’ most popular college majors are science, business and healthcare. Millennials studied psychology at less than half the rate of Gen Z.
IndustriesGen Z’s top industry choices are: healthcare and social services, education and professional and business services.  Gen Z is more likely to want to work in the federal government than millennials.Millennials’ top industry choices are: Education, healthcare and social services, and information technology.
OccupationsOccupations in arts, design and media are attractive to Gen Z, with three times more Gen Z-ers choosing these occupations than Gen X or Student Millennials.Even as Gen Z picks business less as a college major, they are choosing sales occupations two times more than Gen X or Millennials.Millennials’ top occupations are: education, training and library, computer and mathematical, and business and financial operations. 
Career developmentGen Z’s most important factors when deciding to accept a job are: Salary, work-life balance, and job duties they’d be working on.Millennials’ most important factors when deciding to accept a job are: salary, work-life balance, and career growth opportunities. 
BenefitsAt a minimum, Generation Z expects the “Big 3” employee benefits: medical insurance, paid time off and retirement savings.Aside from the “Big 3,” Generation Z is looking for maternity and paternity benefits, student loan repayment, and tuition reimbursement.At a minimum, Millennials expect the “Big 3” employee benefits: medical insurance, paid time off and retirement savings.Aside from the “Big 3,” Millennials are looking for bonus incentives, student loan repayment and maternity and paternity leave.

How and where Gen Z searches for jobs

Knowing how to attract Generation Z employees starts with understanding their job search habits. Which channels are they most likely to use? How do they build relationships with recruiters? Here’s everything you need to know, from Gen Z’s favorite places to look for jobs to accounting for job hopping during the recruitment process: 

  • Employee referrals are Gen Z’s #1 job source
    Over 60% of Gen Z students say referrals from current or former employees are their favorite way of learning about potential employers. 
  • On-campus career fairs are still king.
    Gen Z candidates still value face-to-face communication, and rank college career centers and hiring events nearly twice as high as their Millennial counterparts when it comes to favorite job sources.
  • Recruiters are trusted advisors.
    Gen Z job seekers rank their relationship with their recruiter as the most important factor when deciding whether to accept an offer. Take time to build more meaningful, personal relationships. 
  • Gen Z plans to move on from their current employer in three years or less.
    Account for job hopping by investing in a strong talent community, portraying an accurate employer experience throughout the recruiting process, and focusing on benefits that matter.

Gen Z communication preferences

Connecting with Gen Z means meeting them where they are. Using the right communication channels, hiring timelines and messaging can be the difference between an accepted offer and losing a candidate to a competitor.

According to the Yello Recruiting Study, email is Generation Z’s number-one choice to communicate with potential employers. But while email is an undisputed champ when it comes to sharing recruitment marketing materials, scheduling interviews, and coordinating offer letters, a healthy mix of many communication channels might be the key to winning over Generation Z talent. A growing number of Gen Z candidates rank text messaging as a favorite way to connect with employers, and video calls are on the rise as well. 

These are the most important Gen Z communication preferences to keep in mind throughout the recruiting process:

Keep it speedy

17% of Gen Z job seekers expect an offer less than a week after the first interview. Cut down on time-to-hire and provide frequent updates throughout the hiring process.

Use a multi-channel approach

Gen Z may rank email #1, but they still expect recruiters to connect with them through a variety of different communication channels.

Connect face-to-face

51% of Gen Z job seekers prefer face-to-face communication, and want to form trusted relationships with their recruiters.

Gen Z recruiting strategies

Generation Z is entering the workforce during a global talent shortage. Paired with Generation Z’s increasing demands for a short time-to-hire, more face-to-face communication, and a high-tech hiring process, the competition for top talent is greater than ever.

That means recruiters will need to get creative when it comes to attracting Gen Z candidates. Here are a few non-traditional strategies to engage the newest generation of talent:

  1. Double down on campus recruitment
    Maintaining strong relationships with colleges and universities is crucial to connecting with Gen Z talent. Increase efficiency by accurately measuring KPIs and employing recruitment event best practices.
  2. Improve your career site.
    Your career page is the foundation of your recruitment marketing strategy, especially for digital-native Gen Zers. Use these best practices to highlight the most important information, modernize your website and attract more candidates.
  3. Personalize your communication strategy.
    Ask students to join your talent community before they apply, and share content based on their indicated interests. During the interview process, send frequent updates to let candidates know about their hiring status. And when it comes time to make an offer, send a small care package that speaks to your new hire.
  4. Update your job descriptions.
    Generation Z has a new set of priorities when it comes to what’s most important at work. Use these job description best practices to make your open role postings more appealing to the newest wave of job seekers.
  5. Build an employee influencer network.
    Gen Z relies on referrals when looking for potential employers, so lean on your current employees to attract young talent. Invite team members to share their work lives on social media, and post when you have new open positions. Feature your employees’ content with candidates for a more authentic view of your company culture.

Generation Z and technology

While they might not be familiar with the specific recruitment technology you use, expectations are high when it comes to Generation Z and technology. They want innovation and streamlined tech solutions throughout the hiring process, and 54% of Gen Z candidates say they won’t even submit an application if your recruiting methods are outdated. 

So how can recruiting technology improve the Gen Z candidate experience? Here’s a step-by-step look at the job search process with the help of hiring software:

Researching potential employers

Make it easy for candidates to learn about your employer brand, find the right positions, and apply with a stand-out career page.

Attending career fairs

Recruitment events software makes it easier for students to check in at employer booths quickly, share a digital resume, and hear back from employers as soon as possible. 

Applying for jobs

Job boards software can simplify the application process with mobile-friendly solutions that allow Gen Z candidates to apply from anywhere, on any device. 

Scheduling screenings and interviews

Interview scheduling software significantly decreases one of the most time-consuming parts of the interview process, and moves candidates through the pipeline faster. 

Completing screenings and interviews

Video interviews offer flexibility and allow Gen Zers to connect at a time that’s convenient for them, while still offering the face-to-face communication they crave.

Waiting to hear back after an interview

Candidates stay engaged and learn more about your organization with automated and customized email and text communications, while employers use candidate evaluation solutions to speed up the decision-making process.

What does Generation Z want in the workplace?

When asked to rank their top three priorities for accepting a job, salary, work/life balance and job duties and projects were at the top of Gen Z’s list. This group may be looking for a flexible work environment that lets them adjust schedules and work remotely to better balance their personal and career responsibilities.  

In addition to strong medical coverage, Generation Z values employee benefits like a great vacation package and a comprehensive parental leave policy. Long-term, they also want a good retirement plan.

What are the most important factors when considering whether or not to accept a job?

Generation Z salary expectations

Gen Z is planning for today and for tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean they plan to stay with your organization. Generation Z in the workplace statistics show that more than half admit they intend to look for a new job within three years. Attracting Gen Z candidates is challenging, retaining them may be the next hurdle for business.

How to best manage Gen Z in the workplace

By now, the recruiting differences between Gen Z and their older counterparts is clear. But how do all of these job search and workplace expectations apply to supervisors? 

Knowing how to manage Generation Z may require some additional training, even for seasoned supervisors. Gen Z is looking for meaningful work with an opportunity to solve problems and have an impact. Providing these opportunities may be key to retention. 

Consistent feedback – even daily – rates high on the list of how to motivate Generation Z students. This demographic is planning for their future, and job mobility is also a top priority. Continuous learning must be at the forefront of your company’s list of must haves to keep Gen Z engaged and motivated.

Diversity and inclusion for Gen Z

Called the most diverse and best-educated generation, Gen Z knows they want to work for a socially conscious employer. They look for diversity in an organization:

  • 86% of Gen Z job seekers cite a company’s commitment to diversity as an important factor in deciding whether or not to accept an  offer.
  • More than two-thirds would be reluctant to accept an offer if they didn’t meet any underrepresented employees during the interview process. 
  • Once hired, 78% would consider finding a new job if they found their employer wasn’t committed to diversity in the workplace.  

When it comes to Gen Z and diversity, it’s important to know what types of inclusion are most important, and which types of diversity initiatives are most likely to tip the scale:

When you consider your ideal workplace, what types of diversity in the workplace are among the most important to you?

Which of the below are the most important to you when it comes to initiatives that support diversity in the workplace?