Generation Z job seekers are the newest demographic to join the working ranks. And while they’re often lumped in with their millennial counterparts as tech-savvy digital natives, Gen Z comes with its own set of workplace expectations and preferences. Understanding what motivates these newest entrants to the workforce is critical to attract, engage and retain Gen Z talent.

What do Generation Z candidates want at work? Here’s everything you need to know, according to the Yello Recruiting Study:

Getting to know Generation Z job seekers

Recruiting is different for each generation, and Generation Z is no exception. Understanding your audience is crucial to executing a successful early talent recruiting strategy.

Here’s what you should know about Generation Z’s job-seeking preferences:

Gen Z At-a-Glance

  • Nearly one in five Gen Zers expect a job offer one week from the initial phone screen. The majority expect an offer within two weeks. 
  • Gen Z has no patience for outdated recruiting technology. 46% have applied for a job on their mobile device, and 54% won’t complete an application if your recruiting methods are outdated.
  • Gen Zers value face-to-face relationships and meaningful work: they rank their relationship with their recruiter as having the highest impact on their decision to accept a job.
  • Gen Z wants their work to be meaningful: they rank job duties & responsibilities higher than any other generation when it comes to accepting or rejecting a job offer.
  • Gen Z expects to job hop more than their millennial and Gen X counterparts: 55% plan to work for their current employer for less than three years.

What Generation Z wants in a workplace

When it comes to increasing employee engagement within your organization, it’s important to note generational preferences for what the workplace looks like. Here’s what Gen Z job seekers are looking for at work: 

Salary

According to the Yello Recruiting Study, every demographic sites salary as their first priority when accepting a new position. However, when it comes to expected salary amount for entry-level positions, Gen Z is spread across the board. These first-time employees aren’t sure what to expect when it comes time for salary negotiations.

Generation Z salary expectations

Mission-driven work

Unlike prior generations, Gen Z is the first to rank “job duties and projects” in their top three considerations when deciding whether to accept a job. With a recent emergence of mission-driven companies that integrate social consciousness into everything they do, Gen Z job seekers don’t just want to clock in and out. They want to know that their day-to-day responsibilities will make a big difference, and they want to enjoy their work.

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

Work-life balance

In recent years, experts have shifted away from “work-life balance” in favor of a term that more accurately reflects the modern work experience: “work-life integration.”

Generation Z understands that in today’s connected world, work doesn’t necessarily stop the minute you walk out the door at 5PM. Instead, they’re looking for workplace flexibility that allows them to take time off as they need it, take advantage of remote work opportunities, and enjoy a culture of “unplugging” when needed. Ask company leaders to walk the talk when it comes to integrating work and life.

Employee benefits

When it comes to employee benefits, Generation Z job seekers are just like their millennial and Generation X colleagues. At minimum, they expect good medical insurance, an attractive vacation package, and generous retirement savings. But they also have an eye on their personal and financial futures, with a strong desire for student loan assistance, tuition reimbursement, and maternity and paternity benefits.Less popular? Gym memberships, intramural teams, and stock options. And while the ping-pong table might be nice to have, it’s not going to win Gen Z candidates over when it comes to deciding where to work.

Mobility

Gen Z employees are ready to learn, and they want professional development at work. They’re looking for ways to grow, and are more likely than previous generations to job-hop if a better opportunity comes along.

55% of Gen Z job seekers plan to look for a new job within three years.

How can human resources teams respond to Gen Z’s desire to move up or on? Providing opportunities for growth within the organization can be key. Whether the movement is upward or lateral, a culture of continuous learning and growth could be the difference between high attrition and high retention. Be sure to provide programs for training and professional development, mentor and sponsorship prospects and career planning. A strong career path within an organization can be the answer to losing talent to other employers.

Tips for attracting Gen Z candidates

1. Start early

You might want to start targeting Gen Z candidates earlier than you think. This new and upcoming workforce is beginning their career search earlier than prior generations, and is looking for top organizations to meet their needs. Only 10% of Gen Z students intend to wait until after they graduate to start looking for a job, and almost 20% begin their search during freshman year.

2. Stay present on campus

Campus recruitment isn’t going anywhere — half of Gen Z students polled reveal that campus hiring events are one of their most valuable job-search resources. Establish a connection with career services centers on campus, discuss internship opportunities and open the lines of interest and communication. Maintaining these relationships throughout the educational journey is key: invite students to join your talent community, follow your organization’s social media pages to keep abreast of company initiatives, and opt in to email communications to learn more about hiring and campus events.

Are career centers and hiring events helpful job search resources?

3. Build a strong employer brand

Your online presence can be the first thing that attracts Gen Z, or a permanent deterrent. This cohort ranks third-party review sites in their top three job-search resources, which means they’ll know a lot about you before they even speak to a recruiter. For Gen Z, more than any other demographic, your career page and employee social media presence are top research destinations. Make sure your organization presents a strong employer brand online.

4. Showcase your social impact

Gen Z is highly committed to their own core values of social responsibility. They look for an organization that mirrors their sense of purpose and vision. Your recruitment marketing materials should showcase your social impact initiatives prominently.

Need a little inspiration? Salesforce does this especially well — check out their volunteer program, which encourages employees to take time to give back to their community:

5. Invest in recruitment tech

Born to a world immersed in technology, Gen Z is looking for a high-tech job application experience. More than half of this cohort won’t even submit an application to an organization they feel has outdated recruitment methods.

That means a fully integrated recruitment tech stack is crucial. From recruitment CRM software that helps you keep in touch with candidates at every step to recruitment event technology that streamlines the career fair experience, it’s important to present a modern hiring experience throughout.

54% of Gen Z candidates won’t submit an application if they feel your recruitment methods are outdated.

69% look for mobile job applications.

66% say texting highlights an organization’s tech-savvy during the recruitment process.

6. Be more human

Tech may start the application process, but meaningful connections make for a stellar Gen Z candidate experience. This group ranks their relationships with recruiters as the number-one most important factor when deciding whether to accept a job. Shifting from recruiter to trusted advisor will help you win over young talent.

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 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

7. Act fast

Gen Z is looking for a hiring process that’s fast and definitive. For the majority of these workers, 82% believe the entire process should take two weeks, tops. When recruitment lags, candidates get ghosted or timelines aren’t met, expect Gen Z talent to move on.

What managers need to know about working with Gen Z

With a new generation of employees entering the workforce, your company’s people managers will likely require guidance on how to cater to Gen Z’s expectations and work style. Consider the skills and training that managers need to support their direct reports, and consider investing in continuing education on how to work with Gen Z employees.

Here’s what all managers should know about working with Generation Z: 

  • Know your employees. Invest time in face-to-face communication, and understand what Gen Z employees want at work. 
  • Be accessible. Help your new hire build relationships within your team and across your organization. (Remember, your Gen Zer may have accepted the job, in part, because of their relationship with their recruiter. Upon hire, someone must step into the role of being the Gen Zer’s “go-to person.”)
  • Be a coach. Provide ongoing feedback, recognize contributions and accomplishments, and be a professional development resource. 
  • Encourage authenticity. Be prepared to manage the whole person, including their mental well-being.  
  • Focus on mission. Gen Z employees don’t want to clock in and clock out. They want their work to be meaningful, and they choose opportunities where they can make an impact.
  • Offer growth opportunities. Focus on professional development, and show Gen Z employees how they can grow within your organization. Address skills gaps with continuing education.

The newest entrants to the workforce have much to offer employers. Gen Z’s high-tech literacy will align seamlessly with future needs. This generation looks at entrepreneurship fearlessly: demonstrating a spirit of risk-taking that could be key to innovation. Their social consciousness and commitment to values can help businesses further their own community-focused agendas. Organizations must attract Gen Z based on their values and needs, and leverage their talent and enthusiasm to grow and prosper.