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Top Tips: Recruitment Marketing to Reach Gen Z Talent


Recruitment marketing to attract Generation Z: The top five things you might not know they’re looking for...

By Kris Waterman, Creative Director/Strategy Specialist

I hung on every word of their answers in hopes to understand this generation's way of thinking when it comes to the workplace. This was a group of young, fresh-out-of-college adults; three men and two women, on a Q&A panel of Gen Z professionals, as they were questioned about what they look for when applying and accepting a new position with a company.

I work with owners of small-to-medium-sized businesses daily, and have for almost a decade. There’s one obstacle that they all seem to have in common right now and that’s how to find and KEEP good employees. I’ve seen them try everything; from sign-on bonuses and extra benefits, to higher pay and more flexible schedules - to no avail. No one seems to have been able to “crack the code” of what this newest generation of professionals looks for when considering, accepting, and keeping a job.

I would like to say I was blown away by the answers they were giving, but the more they explained their thought processes, the more I felt myself identifying with them. The only difference I could see between their mentality and mine, was that they live in a time where applicants seem to have the “upper-hand” in the interview process, and I certainly did not when I was their age. Let me explain.

I’m in my mid-forties. When I turned 16, I couldn’t WAIT to get a job! My parents taught me that when applying for a job, you dress up in the nicest clothes you have and you “sell yourself” to the person that does the hiring. Yes sir, yes ma’am - I will work whatever hours you need, for minimum wage, and happy to do it! If I was unfortunate enough to land myself in a job I didn’t like, well…”you just stick it out!” No job-hopping, as that looks bad on your resume, and, “don’t you DARE give less than a 2-week notice, or you will simply be un-hirable for another job one day.” Back then, employers were also allowed to give you an "opinion" reference when they were called to check up on your employment history, and that meant you had better not leave on bad terms!

Do you think I didn’t have jobs I wanted to walk out on? You bet I did! (I’ll spare you the stories.) Today’s workplaces are not quite as nit-picky when they do their hiring. Gaps in employment are not uncommon, and often not inquired about. None of their business? Perhaps.

A few of the things that stood out most to me from the Generation Z panel:

  • Today’s applicants expect (or at least want) the Red Carpet

When one of the young men were asked what made them choose their last job, he said that the company reached out to him 3 different times to thank him for applying, as well as receiving introduction emails from other managers. Years ago, I remember the follow-up was my responsibility as the applicant.

  • Most in Gen Z are looking for hybrid positions

Covid and technology have taught us that a lot of us can work from home, and this upcoming generation definitely favors that opportunity. (Working from home was not a thing when I was their age, but I would have LOVED that!)

  • They’re stalking your LinkedIn account

This tech-savvy generation grew up with social media, and they are GOOD AT IT! If they’re considering your company, they expect you to have an updated LinkedIn page/account, or you’re not even in the running. They will do their research. Do you have good reviews from past employees? They’re checking.

  • Culture is KING

Not only do they want a positive and fun work environment, but what is the company doing for the community, and is the position one they can feel good about? This is very important to this generation. *Side note - stop listing “fast-paced work environment” as a job description. Apparently that has a negative connotation.

  • Throw out your list of interview questions

Gen Zers are all unique, and they want to be treated as so. If you have a checklist of questions you ask every applicant, they get the feeling that they are there for a cattle call. Try having a regular conversation during the interview to get to know them as a person. (Remember - Red Carpet!)

Again, I want to emphasize that I did not disagree with ANY of their logic or desires, I was just raised in a time where those five things were not ever considered when looking for, or staying in a position (some because of technology). If you’re a business owner, you might be my age or older and could possibly be stuck in the same mindset as I was. Eventually, we all have to adapt. How cool would it have been to have your “pick of the litter” when you were getting your first job? I can only imagine.



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