How to Recruit Gen Z Employees

Last updated: Jan 17, 2023

Now that millennials are mid-career and you’ve finally figured out how they think, it’s time to focus on the next generational wave: Gen Z. The oldest members of this cohort are already working, and 60 million more will be entering the workforce in the next decade. Are you ready for them? We’ll show you how to recruit Gen Z employees by helping you understand who they are, what they value, and what they want from a job.


Defining Gen Z

Born from roughly 1995, Gen Z made up 32 percent of the global population in 2019 and 24 percent of the workforce in 2020. True digital natives, the internet, smartphones, virtual reality, and social media have been constantly present throughout their lives. They grew up in a society shaped by economic uncertainty and global upheaval, and they are no strangers to discussions around climate change, gender, equality, and diversity. And while they share some similarities with millennials, Gen Z candidates are seeking vastly different things from the recruitment process, a job, and a working lifestyle.


Manager researching how to recruit Gen Z employees online on his tablet.

Understanding What Makes Gen Z Tick

So, how can you build a workplace to attract the top talent this group has to offer? Understand their psychological profile and leverage it in your recruiting efforts. Here are six traits common to most Gen Z employees:


They’re Tech Savvy

Seemingly born with a cell phone already in hand, Gen Z is the most technologically adept generation yet. So much so that 91 percent say the technology offered by an employer would influence their job choice. Additionally, social media is an integral part of their daily lives, with Snapchat and Instagram being the preferred platforms (not Facebook). They also frequently seek out online reviews before committing to anything.


How to Capitalize:

  • Make sure your online presence is up to snuff. Slow-loading websites that aren’t optimized for mobile or feature outdated designs can turn off Gen Z prospects.
  • Diversify your social media channels. If you haven’t already, establish Snapchat and Instagram accounts to meet recruits where they live.
  • Ensure a seamless online application process. Glitchy, outdated apps increase drop-off rates with this group.
  • Keep an eye on (and try to influence) online reviews. Recruits will consider feedback on what it’s like to work at your company.


They’re Averse to Risk

Gen Zers grew up in the midst of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and watched as their families struggled with the economic fallout from the 2008 recession (and now the COVID-19 pandemic). These events deeply affected their worldview, and as a whole, Gen Z tends to seek employers who offer stability, security, and job growth. Most are aware of the need to constantly upskill and reskill, and 59 percent don’t think their job will exist in the same form 20 years from now.


How to Capitalize:

  • Call attention to benefits your company offers, like good health insurance, a generous 401k, subsidized education, and other financial incentives that meet basic needs.
  • Emphasize stability by showing candidates the long-term career paths available at your company, and highlight learning and development opportunities.


They’re Independent

Autonomy, flexibility, and work-life balance are key considerations for Gen Z employees. They want their jobs to fit into their lives, not the other way around, and they understand that positions other than a standard 9 to 5 are available. Gig economy jobs that allow them the freedom to live life the way they want can be a big draw.


How to Capitalize:

  • Consider using tech to enable part-time, contract work, and job-sharing, as well as flexible schedules and telecommuting.
  • Implement tools that support fast hiring, effortless collaboration, and flexible working styles.
  • Shift the workplace emphasis away from time-based value to output value.


They’re Open Minded

The most racially and ethnically diverse generation yet, 48 percent of Gen Zers are non-white. During their formative years, they witnessed the legalization of gay marriage, the inauguration of Barack Obama as president, and other events that deeply influenced their attitudes about inclusivity. They care about working for progressive organizations that exhibit a commitment to diversity.


How to Capitalize:

  • Ensure your company is providing fair and equitable pay and promotions, and emphasize your efforts with recruits.
  • Highlight genuine team diversity in interviews. If your organization is lacking in this area, increase your commitment to hiring more diverse candidates, and explain your efforts to do so.


They Seek Authenticity

Gen Z employees are drawn to purpose-driven organizations that share their values. They also tend to avoid employers embroiled in scandals or ones that don’t take a position on societal issues. But they can also smell a fake from a mile away, and despite their tech savvy, 74 percent prefer face-to-face communications.


How to Capitalize:

  • Show how the position you’re hiring for will make a societal impact.
  • Highlight employer-sponsored volunteer opportunities.
  • Avoid slang and memes, which could make you seem insincere, when trying to capture recruits’ attention.
  • Hold in-person or face-to-face conversations as often as possible throughout the hiring process.


Gen Z employee looking for local opportunities on her laptop.

Enhancing Gen Z Talent Acquisition Efforts

If you are interested in learning more ways to recruit and retain the best Gen Z employees (and other generations, too), USF’s Human Resources Certificate can help. With courses in talent acquisition and planning, compensation design, employee benefits planning, and more, it offers the modern tools you need to develop a multi-generational workforce. Explore our upcoming live online courses for more information.


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