How to Recruit Gen Z Employees: 4 Strategies

I spoke with Fortune about research-backed strategies that work with this entirely new generation

At CGK, we are passionate about uncovering and exploring what works with Gen Z as employees. Understanding Gen Z as employees is incredibly urgent for leaders and managers as Gen Z is soon to be the fastest-growing generation in the workforce. Already up to age 23, Gen Z represents this year’s college graduates as well as employees in the workforce as young as 16.

To understand Gen Z as employees, we led a unique national research study of Gen Z to separate myth from truth. We dove into Gen Z’s views about recruiting, employment, work, and much more. We lead this study—called The State of Gen Z—each year.

Born between 1996 and approximately 2010, Gen Z is already proving to be very different from their Millennial predecessors. In short, Gen Z is far from Millennials2.0. In fact, what worked with Millennials as employees can completely miss with recruiting and employing Gen Z.

A key discovery: As much as employers look to attract, retain, motivate, and develop Gen Z, they need to be looking at them as an entirely new generation and not just an extension of the Millennials.

I spoke to Fortune about the nuances of recruiting this new generation.

Gen Z is getting a lot more attention now that they are the traditional age of college graduates. At the same time, college recruiters are saying that this generation is already different than any other generation they have recruited in the past.

The new reality with Gen Z, particularly rising Gen Z college graduates in sought-after degree fields, is that employers have to “sell” their jobs and company to these candidates as if they were marketing a product, service, or brand to this always-on-digital generation.

Below are 4 strategies for recruiting Gen Z employees, with quotes from the Fortune story:

Gen Z Recruiting Strategy #1: Think One-Click Wonder

Gen Z is the inaugural digital-first generation to reach adulthood.

They have come of age always experiencing, remembering, and expecting the fast information cycles—think: instant gratification—of the digital world. Whether this was playing on their parents’ iPhone as a kid, their own iPad as a tween, or engaging through ever-present social media as teenagers, this group has always been able to get instant feedback. They expect the same when it comes to engaging with employers, from initial recruiting advertisements and online job postings to completing job applications.

“Our study found that 60% of Gen Z candidates won’t spend more than 15 minutes to submit an online application.” So, think of your application process like a quick-hit online retailer form that asks for just the basics. If you ask for too much from this initial step, Gen Z candidates are going to scroll away. Collect the pertinent data and let the Z’s be on their way. Or, “If they don’t apply, you can’t hire them.” Get the application started, and then you can see if you’re a mutual fit.

“You can use that quick initial contact as a way to keep marketing your organization to these candidates, returning to the conversation over and over as if it were a half-filled cart on Amazon.” Essentially, get Gen Z interested quickly, get their contact info with permission to reach out, and get your message in front of them until they answer your call (or text or IM).

Gen Z Recruiting Strategy #2: Show You Have a Social (Media) Life

In today’s very tight labor market, it’s clear that Gen Z has options about where they want to work. At the same time, CGK’s research shows that Gen Z doesn’t want just any job. They want a job that aligns with their values, interests, passions, and social media expectations. While recruiters have typically had an advantage when it comes to recruiting young adults entering the workforce out of college, Gen Z is turning the tables and recruiters must adapt to make the hires they want—and likely need—to meet their hiring goals.

This newer level of recruiting engagement, whether a person is recruiting for an accounting firm, tech startup, or manufacturing company, starts on social media platforms. These platforms are where Gen Z candidates spend much of their free time, and smart recruiters want to get in the pathway of Gen Z.

“Our study showed that Gen Z is turning to social platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook to vet future employers based on their content, their transparency and their ‘real’-ness.” So, if your social feeds are only showcasing generic slogans and marketing pitches, you’re going to miss a huge opportunity to use the same feeds to recruit the talented emerging generation that can help you grow your business long-term.

“Insert short, entertaining videos into the recruiting process.” “Particularly videos that come across as ‘unfiltered,’ like a day in the life of a Gen Z’er who works in your company, with candid conversations about what they do and why they like it.”

Gen Z Recruiting Strategy # 3: Inspire Recruits to “Share” the Message

Finally, let’s talk “sharing.”

This generation grew up being told to “Click the Share button now!” if they liked a piece of content. For Gen Z, the mark of validation for a great video, post, comment, or experience is sharing, forwarding, reposting, and retweeting.

Gen Z is all about communal growth and sharing what inspires or connects with them. If you want to attract them as employees—and win their peers—create content about your company and employment opportunity that drives social media shares. This is true not only on social media but for getting current Gen Z employees to tell their friends that they should work for you, too.

“Referrals are, hands down, one of the best ways to attract Gen Z talent,” I told Fortune. But to make this show-and-tell brand of recruiting work, the referral reward has to be as immediate as the referral itself. Most employers offer bonuses or rewards to the referring employee after the referred candidate completes a year on the job—but, for Gen Z, a year can feel like an eternity.

“For most Gen Z employees, that’s just too long a wait to be worth bothering with.” “Instead, offer a tiered payout. Give a portion of the bonus when their referral is hired, another chunk at the six-month mark, and the final payout when he or she hits one year.” If your referral payout is too slow, your referral funnel will dry up before it gets started.

Gen Z Recruiting Strategy #4: Seek a “Hire” Power

Gen Z is looking at their job search similar to how they evaluate products, services, and brands as consumers. They’re seeking an employer that makes the process easy, transparent, meaningful, and has a purpose or mission beyond the obvious profit or shareholder motives. In short, Gen Z is looking for an employer that gets who they are, what they find important, and aligns with their desire to make the world a better place. Showcasing this mission through videos, images, blog posts, Instagram stories, and other trusted Gen Z outlets will bring your mission to life—and bring Gen Z to your employment page!

Want to Recruit More Gen Z Talent to Your Company?

Gen Z is at exactly the right life stage for you to reach out to them and show them why your company is the right fit for their talent, and I’m here to help!

Reach out to my team to schedule an initial call or request a little info about my Gen Z recruiting, retention, and talent development presentations. I’ll work with you to customize my message to your exact workplace or industry culture and growth priorities.

For more Gen Z insights and strategies, follow me on Instagram (@Jason_Dorsey).

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