What Do We Know About Generation Z? A Guide for Recruiters

Much has been written about Millennials, how they want to live and work and how to best recruit them. But what about the generation coming up behind them? The first batch of these young people is coming of age right now, and the on-the-cuspers have already entered the workforce. What do we know about this cohort, and how can you use this information to become a better recruiter? Let’s take a look.

But first: What do we call them?

As you can tell by the title of this post, we’ve settled on Generation Z. Lots of options have been tossed about in recent years, including iGen, Centennials, Founders, Linksters, Posts, Homeland Generation, ReGen, and Plurals. From our quick and unscientific internet search, Generation Z appears to the the winner among large publishers and a couple of organizations that track this sort of thing (although there’s still time for them to get a better name; you may remember that Millennials were called “Generation Y” until a better one came along).

Who are they?

Pew Research Center, long considered the experts on generational demographic data, recently published a post in which they defined this “post-Millennial” generation as those being born from 1997 onward. So:

  • Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (currently, ages 22-37 today) is considered a Millennial
  • Anyone born after 1996 is part of Generation Z (although, Pew declined to call it that, stating, “We think it’s too early to give them a name”)

Generation Z currently accounts for about 25 percent of the U.S. population, making them the largest generational group in the U.S.

What are they about?

Defining generational attitudes and dispositions is, by its nature, messy and inexact. It’s important to note that these are general guidelines, and they are not exempt from bias and stereotype. With that said, let’s examine four characteristics of Gen Z and how you can use that information to your benefit.

1. They came of age amid war in the Middle East & the Great Recession

And both these things have turned them into pragmatists. Generation Z is not as idealistic or optimistic as Millennials; just the opposite, actually. Growing up in a climate of fear and scarcity has caused them to become practical, risk-averse people.

It’s also turned them into a generation of entrepreneurs. They don’t want to let what happened to their parents (layoffs, foreclosures) happen to them. In fact, numerous studies (here and here, for example) show that this generation wants to be their own boss rather than work for someone else.

You need to know: Don’t try to sell them on a dream job; they’re somewhat world-weary, and they won’t believe you. Actually, don’t try to sell them on anything — Gen Z doesn’t trust salespeople, advertising or the like. If you’re going to recruit them successfully, give them engaging experiences that focus on tangible benefits, such as salary, defined career paths, 401(k), PTO and health insurance.

2. Technology drives their data-filled world

Generation Z does not remember life without the internet, which means they’ve always had access to a vast amount of data on anything and everything. As such, they have incredibly quick filters; sifting and sorting through such large amounts of information and discarding what doesn’t work for them is not only second nature, it’s a survival instinct. It’s as common as breathing for them. And as you can imagine, they have little patience for slow/old tech.

You need to know: Three things:

  1. You and the firm you represent simply must provide access to the latest social and digital tools as part of the recruitment process. Gen Z won’t stand for an antiquated recruiting and application process. Give them cloud-based tech that enables collaboration and transparency.
  2. Highlight an employer’s commitment to using emerging technologies in the workplace — that’s a big plus for Gen Z.
  3. Be accessible via mobile, and provide them with access to mobile tools and a mobile-optimized site as part of the recruitment process.

3. They exist in 2 places: social media & real life

Gen Z grew up with and on social media, and managing who they are on these channels — their personal brand — takes up a huge part of their lives. Social media is not a pastime or a cool place to store their vacation pics; they live there, their peers live there, and many of their important conversations happen there.

You need to know: You will lose credibility with Gen Z if your personal brand is lacking, which means you must tend to your social profiles impeccably. Not only does Gen Z seek validation and acceptance via social media, but they also give it there, too, and that includes those who are recruiting them. Learn the nine things you can do to build your personal brand.

4. They value diversity & inclusion

Generation Z is the most diverse and multicultural generation this nation has ever produced. According to the U.S. Census Bureau data reported by The Washington Examiner, 49 percent of this generation is non-White, making it the most minority-filled generation ever. In addition, Collaborata found:

  • 81 percent of Generation Z have friends who are of a different race, compared to 69 percent of Millennials
  • 59 percent of Generation Z have friends who are of a different sexual orientation, compared to 53 percent of Millennials

You need to know: Gen Z supports racial diversity, gender neutrality, gay marriage, different points of view and nontraditional fields of specialty. You will turn them off if they perceive that you or a potential employer are against these things.

Recruit Gen Z successfully

This conscientious, practical and somewhat fearful generation wants authenticity, stability, and inclusivity. Do not sell to them, but do meet them on the digital channels where they are. They want real-time, tech-enabled experiences that demonstrate a commitment to emerging technologies.

TrackerRMS is such a platform. TrackerRMS is an all-encompassing software solution for recruitment firms with efficient workflow, reporting and analytics tools. Request a demo today to learn more about this cloud-based recruitment, applicant tracking and CRM software provider.

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