When 20-year-old Diego Kagle applied to work at a ski lodge during a year off between high school and college, he combed through Glassdoor to see how others liked working at the Colorado resort.
“Reviews mattered a whole lot,” says Kagle.
The place was great, but the two weeks he had to wait before getting an offer? Way too long.
Welcome to Generation Z. They're the most tech savvy, fast paced, and connected of the young talent out there. While you may be up to speed on millennials, don't assume that means you’re ready for Generation Z.
Born between 1996 and 2012, these digital natives are poised to invade the workforce, bringing a new set of challenges for managers and recruiters.
By next year, 80% of the job market will be post-Boomer, with Gen Z making up 20% of job seekers. That percentage will grow over the next few years as more of Generation Z reaches working age.
If you're not thinking now about how to appeal to them, you'll be left behind.
Here are the most important things you need to know:
1. Speed is everything
Gen Zers have never known a world without the internet. They're used to music, movies, and games on demand.
They don't have patience for old-school hiring methods. Over 60% of Gen Zers aren't willing to spend more than 15 minutes on a job application. You’ll need to make sure your forms are short and easy to fill out on a smartphone.
If you're interested in a candidate, don't drag out the waiting period. Consider a phone or video interview that leads to an immediate offer. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, more companies are taking this “sight unseen” approach for such jobs as retail, engineering, and teaching.
And make sure you're keeping the process lean from start to finish. Choose a background check vendor that’s fast and accurate so there are no hiccups or hangups. Nothing sends a Gen Z candidate into the arms of a competitor like a slow hiring process.
2. Meet them where they are
Gen Zers were the first to be born during the age of smartphones. Texting is second nature to them.
Set up interviews, thank your Gen Zers for their time, or extend your offer, all via text. But remember, Gen Z applicants know the difference between a robot and a live person. An AI-based system will work fine for some jobs. But send a personal text, signed with your name, to valuable candidates.
Be careful not to go overboard with the abbreviated texting lingo or emojis, though. This generation picks up on anything that rings false.
3. Build a trusted brand
Gen Zers are more likely than millennials to base their decision to join a company on its Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, or Facebook pages. This means putting time and resources into nailing your image across social channels. Think in terms of three- to five-minute videos featuring a day in the life at your company.
Don't overload pages with long blocks of text. Instead, sum up your culture and values in a few short sentences. Or post an image on Instagram that reflects who you are and what you stand for.
Also, make sure to mention perks. Glassdoor data show that Gen Zers cite “work environment,” “flexible hours,” and “good pay” as the most common “pros” in reviews. In addition, “free food,” “company discount,” and “easy work” are in the top ten most commonly used markers of approval.
4. Show off your values
Many Generation Zers are concerned about social issues, particularly the environment. They see climate change as a threat to their own personal futures and rank it higher than most other issues.
They’re also willing to put their money where their mouth is. A recent study found 30% of Gen Zers would take a 10-20% pay cut to work for a cause they care about.
Kagle, for one, says he’s more likely to work for a company that talks about eco-friendly business practices on its social media pages.
5. Appeal to their needs and aspirations
Raised by Gen X parents, Gen Zers know what layoffs and job insecurity mean. Many were kids when the financial crisis hit and still remember that terrible time. Unlike their millennial counterparts, Gen Zers are looking for stability. While salary is important, job security and a clear career trajectory matter more.
This isn’t to say they expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. Though Gen Zers want a satisfying and fulfilling career, 77% of them know they’ll have to work harder than previous generations to get there.
Gen Zers’ work ethic makes them appealing candidates. Add in the fact that they’re some of the most tech-savvy of all workers, are self-motivated and function independently, and you can see why companies are eager to bring them on board.
In exchange, this generation wants to know what the company will do for them.
That means showing that your company can offer a fast paced track towards career advancement and lots of opportunities to learn and grow. Make sure all of this is reflected in your career pages and on your social channels.
Generation Z represents a new frontier and shouldn’t be confused with millennials. While most are still not fully ready for the working world, that’s going to change soon. Already, many Gen Zers are taking on internships, entry-level positions, and other foot-in-the-door jobs.
The better you understand this generation and what it cares about, the better you’ll be at attracting and retaining these enthusiastic young workers. Be ready or risk losing out on the next wave of talent.