Generation Z (Gen Z) represents the newest puzzle to solve in the recruiting space. Coming of age in a social media-filled world and entering the workforce post-pandemic, Gen Z’s wants and desires look very different from previous generations.
Like any talent audience, successfully connecting with Gen Zers online starts with understanding who they are. That said, with birth years spanning from 1997 to 2012, there are many different groups of people within the general category of “Gen Z”, which is why a good first step is to narrow down your specific talent audience by creating a candidate persona.
You can then begin to put together a targeted Recruitment Marketing strategy that actually works to attract Gen Z talent. To get you started, we’ve put together a list of research-backed demographic characteristics and candidate behaviors.
Rally note: Want to learn even more content strategies to attract intern and early careers talent? Check out our ideabook 10 Content Topics to Engage Gen Z.
Gen Z characteristics
Members of Gen Z are more racially and ethnically diverse than any previous generation. The Pew Research Center found that 52% of Gen Z identify as non-Hispanic white, 1 in 4 as Hispanic, 14% as Black, 6% as Asian and 5% as another race or two or more races.
With this data in mind, if your content is lacking in DEI messages, you may not be connecting with candidates as effectively as you could be.
The same research found that Gen Z is also on track to be the most well-educated generation, with 57% of 18-to-21-year-olds being enrolled in a 2 or 4-year college program.
One side effect of this is a more analytical, pragmatic and realistic generation. Behind every decision, whether it’s related to a product, brand or job, there is a lot more research being done. Not just that, but the sources Gen Z are looking to for information are more heavily vetted for authenticity, which places greater importance on things like employee-generated content.
Gen Zers are the world’s first “digital natives.” While Millennials are considered “digital pioneers” who witnessed the explosion of technology and social media, Gen Z was born into a world of peak technological innovation.
Having spent their entire life on the internet, their desire for authentic content online is greater than any previous generation. Combined with their higher levels of education, this recipe makes for a generation of people who are always online searching for “real” sources of information like friends, family and influencers on social media to help them navigate life’s decisions, including career choices. This further points to the importance of showing your company’s culture on social media from the perspective of real, unfiltered employees.
Now that you have an idea of who Gen Z is, let’s take a look at their preferred channels, who they want to hear from and what content catches their attention based on research conducted by Scholars, a platform that helps companies hire better students and recent grads.
6 research-backed recruiting tips to help you get Gen Z engaged
1. Take advantage of the rising popularity of audio
According to Scholars, 52% of early-career talent lists audio as their number 1 way of consuming information and 78% list it in their top 3. While you’re likely already investing in creating great video content, don’t forget about audio!
Audio-only platforms like podcasts and Clubhouse are really popular right now, which makes complete sense when you think about the behaviors of a student. Students spend a lot of time walking to class or taking public transportation to and from school — and podcasts are one way to keep themselves entertained during this time.
Not many companies are investing time here (yet!), so it’s a great way to cut through the clutter while also meeting this talent audience where they’re already spending time. One company that is doing a great job in this space is Scholars with their podcast The Internship Show, which invites hiring managers, leadership and internship coordinators from different employers to come on to talk about career advice tips for getting hired at their company.
2. Use timely pop culture trends in your messaging and content
Speaking your talent audience’s language has always been the way to their hearts, and Gen Z is no different. In fact, 63% of Gen Z’ers say they are automatically more interested in content that uses trending cultural references from social media.
If you want your content to stand out, then you need to stay up-the-date on cultural references and events and sprinkle them into your content, especially on more youthful platforms like TikTok and Instagram. This can help show off your sense of humor and let Gen Z know that you’re not out of touch with their world. For example, Marriot does a great job at staying up to date on important events and celebrations taking place around the world.
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An example of an Instagram post using humor and showing career possibilities.
3. Showcase your emerging talent
87% of Gen Zers would rather learn about your company from someone who is less than 5 years older than them. Early career talent wants to understand what their career will look like in the not-so-distant future, not what it will look like 20 years down the line.
This is largely because of the turbulent world they’ve been handed as a result of the pandemic. With so much uncertainty ahead, instead of entering the workforce feeling like there are endless opportunities, Gen Z’ers are actively seeking out careers that offer security and stability. Connecting them with employees who were in their shoes not so long ago can instill this kind of stability. For example, PWC does this through a running series of photos and videos from recent interns on their @lifeatpwc Instagram account.
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Showcasing emerging talent in a video posted on Instagram by PWC.
4. Use a conversational tone
When it comes to virtual recruiting events, 74% prefer a more casual, conversational format compared to a formal presentation.
Gone are the days of the PowerPoint, lecture-style presentation. This is why your recruiting events should focus on authentic relationship building through conversation over presentation. Prospective candidates will have the opportunity to learn what they want about you and vice versa
5. Create a targeted communications strategy
According to Scholars’ research, students prefer to receive direct information from employers through traditional channels like email, LinkedIn and other sourcing platforms, compared to other social media channels.
However, when researching a company, 81% say they look at social media like Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. That means you should have both a direct communications plan and a social media plan to deliver the right messages in the right places.
6. Highlight your company’s people
56% of students say they are equally as interested in who works at a company as they are in what the company does. At the end of the day, your employees are spending at least 1/3 of their day with you.
So to show the kind of people that students will be working with, highlight as many different people from as many different roles, experiences and backgrounds as possible. This is also a great opportunity to show the state of DEI in your company, like in the example from Anthem below.
A YouTube video posted by Anthem showcasing a range of employees with different backgrounds.
Hopefully, you can use the data and tips above to help you build out your Gen Z candidate persona and make immediate, beneficial changes to your Recruitment Marketing strategy to better align with the wants and desires of younger job seekers.
For a deeper dive into how to engage Gen Z talent, be sure to check out our ideabook 10 Content Topics to Engage Gen Z!