Recruiters and employers have long focused on how appeal to Millennials, those born between 1980 and 1995, to attract and retain the best talent for a role. However, there is another generational cohort that is rising fast through the employment ranks: Generation Z, born between 1996 and 2012. This tech-savvy, competitive, and independent generation currently makes up 24% of the workforce, and that figure will only increase as new graduates flood the job market.
For employers to attract and retain Gen Z’s top talent, it is vital to understand what motivates this generation, and how the qualities that distinguish them from their Millennial predecessors mean they require a different type of hiring strategy.
Perhaps the starkest difference between these two generations is that, while Millennials witnessed the rise of the internet and mobile phones, Gen Z never knew a time before social media and smart devices. Gen Z is completely wired into the digital world, constantly streaming, scrolling, and processing information. Their worldview has been shaped by their digital connectivity to different cultures, life experiences, and current events – and as a result, they want to contribute to a more sustainable and socially just world.
Millennials, who were greatly influenced by the economic impact of student loans and the Great Recession, are interested in jobs that offer immediate progression and results. Those in Gen Z put more emphasis on a work experience that helps them understand their true identities and how to give back to society. This means that instead of linear promotions, those in Gen Z are willing to pursue opportunities to move sideways, take secondments, and accept placements for the sake of learning and personal development.
Both Millennials and Gen Z seek a good culture fit when assessing a new role, but for Gen Z it is especially important that they can identify with an organisation’s brand, values, and culture. Because Gen Z views who they work for as a reflection of their own ideals, the authenticity, transparency, and brand reputations of organisations are closely examined during the job hunt.
How does this relate to the way employers and recruiters should prepare for Gen Z graduates? According to a recent SHL whitepaper, “A New Era in Graduate Recruitment,” members of Gen Z seek a meaningful and honest experience when searching for their first job after graduation. They understand the need for skills assessments, but they want these assessments to be relevant to the role, and they want their capabilities to be fairly and accurately assessed. Additionally, they want an application process that gives a realistic depiction of the job and its responsibilities.
In another publication, “Dare to be Different: Attracting Next-Generation Talent in the Digital Age,” SHL recommends that employers form a robust early careers attraction plan to appeal to a diverse, targeted pool of candidates. With the following suggestions, employers can attract, retain, and develop the top talent of Gen Z:
Dare to be real. Identifying the prime candidates for the job is best achieved through the use of unbiased skills assessments. These objective tools are packed with predictive power, revealing insights on candidates’ performance potential and how their values align with those of the organisation. As mentioned above, during the application process Gen Z wants to learn about the responsibilities a role will entail. Shaping assessments to present real-life challenges and business scenarios is a personalised approach that will help candidates understand the role and enable employers to make the best match.
Dare to be immersive. SHL encourages employers to create engaging assessment experiences through three key insights expressed by recent graduates: Gen Z wants to learn about opportunities for professional growth and learn more about themselves in the process; they want to love where they work and connect with the organisation’s values; and if they are interested in a job, they want to experience what life there would be like. Employers can incorporate these insights into the application journey by presenting a realistic preview of life at the company and scope for growth, perhaps through featuring the stories of current employees. Employers can also shape the assessment process to allow candidates to test out real work experiences and demonstrate their potential. Finally, to help the successful candidate “fall in love” with where they will work, create a personalised onboarding plan that draws upon assessment insights to address any skills gaps or support needs.
SHL notes that with the rise of Gen Z to the workforce, employers’ expectations are also evolving. Instead of seeking candidates who can simply “get the job done,” businesses are increasingly looking for graduates who can collaborate, engage with peers, demonstrate creativity, and remain flexible in a constantly changing environment. SHL recommends that employers provide targeted support to help graduates develop these capabilities during the onboarding process, as Gen Z graduates may struggle with the transition to full-time work. An SHL survey of 800 recent graduates revealed that when starting a new role, Gen Z struggles most with picking up a project at short notice and with limited briefing, building relationships in an unfamiliar team, and taking on management responsibility for others.
It may sound like a daunting task to wow Gen Z with a personalised candidate experience while also fielding a high volume of applications, managing costs, and providing an insights-fuelled onboarding experience, but SHL’s Graduate Solution can ease the burden and transform your recruitment process.
As a proud partner of SHL, Jo Thompson Recruitment can help bring your talent acquisition goals to fruition. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a ring at 0844 2920800 for further details.