Gen Z Graduate Recruitment Challenges and Strategies

By 2030 Gen Z will make up 75% of the working population and you need to be ready

It is official, Gen Z is the newest cohort to join the working ranks. Born between 1997 and 2012, this generation is just leaving university 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 newest generation of workers. It is important to know the differences between Millennials and Gen Z. While they are both young, technologically inclined, and generally skeptical of the world around them, millennials grew up during an economic boom and graduated into a recession, Gen Z grew up in the recession watching their parents and friends struggle. This has shaped the outlooks of both generations in a distinct way. It’s important for any business looking to recruit these generations to recognise that they are, in fact, different generations, with different experiences, outlooks, desires, and expectations. Treating them the same, as a broad pool of “young people”, will significantly dampen the effectiveness of recruiting efforts.

Some key differences:

  • Millennials have an inherent optimism, while Gen Z candidates tend to be more pragmatic and realistic.
  • Millennials tend to be more collaborative, while Gen Z candidates feel more self-reliant and independent.
  • Millennials saw the rise of social media and are more forthcoming with personal information, while Gen Z candidates saw how this has been abused and tend to be more private.

With Gen Z expected to make up 75% of the working population by 2030, it is a good time as ever for companies to implement ongoing graduate recruitment strategies to ensure this highly needed talent is continuously brought into the organisation, ensuring their long-term competitiveness, innovation, and growth. Such a strategy requires companies to think about a standardised process that facilitates fair, consistent, and efficient hiring. Now is the time to start experimenting with recruitment messaging through various channels, from in-person meetings to bite-sized social media content via the platforms regularly used by Gen Z, like TikTok and Instagram. It’s important to keep in mind that strategies need to be developed and evolve over time, they can’t change overnight, which is why it’s a great time to start testing now and be prepared to weather failure before finding success.

Gen Z is motivated by purpose and meaningful work

Older generations often want careers for their own benefit; to support their families, to save up for luxury purchases, and so on. Younger generations, by contrast, tend to have higher-level goals in mind. They don’t just want to support themselves, they want to make the world around them a better place, both for their local communities and for the world as a whole.

You can utilise this as part of your recruitment and outreach messaging. Think about your role in your community and both nationally and globally. Determine ways that your company is making the world a better place, and emphasise that by working for your company, these young candidates will be helping to make that dream a reality.

The importance of work-life balance and remote work

Offering flexibility with remote work is more than just a temporary Covid induced necessity. It is a hugely beneficial perk that can attract both younger millennials and Gen Z candidates. Millennials love the flexibility it gives them, though they will often continue to attend in-office shifts for collaboration and in-person interaction. Gen Z will love the independence it gives them, as a chance to work at their own pace and prove their value on their own terms.

Diversity is a crucial component

77% of Gen Z  said levels of diversity affect their decision to work at an organisation. Employers seem to finally be understanding that recruiting for diversity is more than a trendy buzzword and that it actually helps organisations to be more innovative, profitable, and generally more successful. Still, however, putting theory into practice seems to be a big hurdle, which isn’t surprising when you consider that it is in every human being’s nature to be (unintentionally) biased. Technology can offer graduate recruiters new possibilities to eliminate bias in their recruitment process as far as possible.

The traditional CV contains a lot of information that can lead to bias, such as gender, age, educational background, address, etc. In comes blind recruitment, which allows for anonymisation of this data in a quest towards a fairer process. 

Clear development path and career progression

Millennials have experienced a decade of working in an environment where job security is scarce and the chances of retirement feel slim to none. Gen Z is entering the workforce with the same feeling, which is why nearly half of the entire working generation works in the gig economy or as a freelancer. Almost half (46%) of Generation Z workers are freelancers, a number that is only projected to grow in the next five years.

As a recruiter, if you can offer job security, upward mobility, a defined career path, and the promise of retirement, you can become very attractive to members of these generations. This means more than just promises; if a candidate works for you for a year with no sign of potential improvement, they’ll be highly likely to start looking for alternatives.

It’s time to get tech-savvy

91% of Gen Z said tech sophistication would impact their interest in working at an organisation. To successfully recruit this generation, you need to know their technology. This extends to every part of the process, from making sure your job application process is mobile-friendly to utilising modern tech in your workplace. Nothing turns off a young candidate more than learning that they’ll be required to use software older than they are. Hence the way you attract and engage with Gen Z should be as digitally native as they are. Video is becoming the default way to communicate online and digital natives expect videos everywhere they go when they are online. What better way to show candidates that you are completely up to date and on-trend, than presenting your vacancies with a video or getting to know them via video interview?

Streamline your process

Gen Z candidates move very quickly and expect an offer within 2 weeks of their first interview. it’s important that your company is agile enough to recruit, analyse, and extend offers as quickly as possible. There are a lot of different ways you can work to streamline the recruiting process.  It might mean using a modern, high-quality applicant tracking system, psychometric testing, and video interviews. It also means making sure your HR department is fast to respond and make decisions. Remember; the longer it takes between an interview and a job offer – or an application and interview – the more likely it is for a candidate to look elsewhere. Cut down on time-to-hire and provide frequent updates throughout the hiring process to provide a positive candidate experience and keep the candidates engaged.

In Summary

Gen Z is highly individual. They will be very resistant to the idea that they can be hired for a role and then be moulded to fit that role. They are who they are, and they aren’t likely to change for a job they only figure will stick around for a year or two. They will want to pick a role that suits them or shapes their role to better fit who they are. Resisting that kind of matching will make it much, much harder to recruit and retain Gen Z candidates. Gen Z is the next big wave in young employees, and they bring with them a new paradigm in work and in recruiting. Now is the time to adapt to that paradigm.

Contact us to learn more about the challenges of the recruiting Gen Z and how we can help you prepare for the new generation.

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