Gen Z Candidates Recruiter's Challenge

A lot has been written about millennials recently.  Boomers and Gen X sway between accolade and criticism at the way they live their lives.  With Gen Z now finally reaching adulthood, the older generations might have a new tirade of criticism to unleash.  Attracting Gen Z might prove to be a unique kind of challenge for recruiters.

You see, there has never been a generation quite like the Gen Zs.  Whereas the millennials are the last generation to know a world before it all went digital, Gen Z have never had that luxury.  In their living memory, there has never been a time when technology didn’t direct the way they engage with the world.

Even as very young children, they had learned to interact with tablets, mobile phones and laptops.  Now, much of their play and self-education is done through technology.  Communication too, has been ever altered by SMS, online gaming chat forums, and mobile apps.

All this technology might’ve been pioneered by Generation X and The Millennials, but it has been populated, colonised, and exponentially overconsumed by Generation Z.  In short, our digital world has become the crucible in which Gen Z has been forged.

Now they have started to reach adulthood, Frankenstein’s monster is finally getting up from the table.

Gen Z Recruiter Challenge Millennials

Why Gen Z is now the recruiter’s problem

Recruiters have just about had time to get to grips with the unique behaviours of Millennials.  With the Baby Boomers suffering a momentous and rather public communication failure with them, you don’t hold out much hope for the Boomer opinion of Gen Z.  Then again, the world has changed so radically, even Millennials might struggle to identify with the new work force.

The recruiter’s challenge is that their new younger idealists are coming through, and somehow, they must bridge the communication gap to get them into work.

The second part of the problem is making a job seem more attractive to a generation nobody really understands. 

What is it that the new work force wants from a job?

Gen Z challenge

And why is it all so different from before?

John Rampton provides an analytical yet easy-to-swallow article on the difference between Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z.  There are many differences between the generations.  In fact, Rampton’s findings are quite surprising considering the criticisms each generation has of the other.

Boomers tend to materially motivated.  Preferring “monetary rewards” or recognition in the forms of “office size and parking spaces”.  Moreover, considering their dubbing Millennials the “me me” generation, it’s therefore ironic that they require “high levels” of perks and praise and harbour an “all is well unless you say something” culture.

Millennials prefer collaboration, “continued learning opportunities, and immediate feedback”.  This does however, mean that they are not as “loyal”.  In fact, the idea that you need as few companies on your CV as possible is one that they obviously don’t hold much stock in.  Craving progression and challenge, they will move from company to company.

Interestingly, as a workforce and a consumer base, a lot of thought is still going into the various methods and approaches that would work on Millennials.

So, where does that leave us with the Gen Z challenge?

Technology anaesthesia

What, then, do Gen Z really want?

Gen Z represent the most tech savvy generation We’ve ever seen.  They enter the workforce having been exposed to technological advancements for their entire lives.  With this, you may in fact find that further advances in technology won’t be as impressive to them.  They have been anaesthetised to technological advancements. The novelty of phones and gadgets have an underwhelming effect on this generation.

Monetary rewards might not be as appealing to them as social rewards.  Rampton also asserts that “experiential rewards and badges such as those earned in gaming and opportunities for personal growth” would appeal to Gen Z workers.

As opposed to the materialism of the boomers, Gen Z have been used to meaningful reward.  The digital revolution has left them with a need for comparative signifiers.  For instance, the levels they reach on gaming sites or consoles when involved in multiplayer forums.  This intangible prestige denotes an easy to understand hierarchy and structure.

With these signifiers, they understand which tiers command or have earned respect. In many cases they equate this respect with experience.  Should another worker occupy a higher tier, then they would have earned it or completed specific achievements.

So how can recruiters meet the new challenge and start attracting Gen Z to the workplace?

Recruiter Website

Your website performance is key

Remember how savvy Gen Z are with technology.  They are the first generation to have led their entire childhood in conjunction with cyberspace.  From as young as five, they have been placing down their physical toys and exploring online worlds.  They have enjoyed an express highway of information, given to them at the speed of an index finger tapping a screen.

So, if your website is not up to date, they will see through it.

If your website is slow, or a struggle to interact with, you will immediately lose the interest of your prospective applicant.  The eight second rule applies.  If they are not captivated within eight seconds they will leave and not follow through with the application.

Single click applications

First, you must operate under the assumption that any applicant has a CV.  With the colleges and schools now making sure that Gen Z are making writing a curriculum vitae, all the information that a recruiter would need is already handled and created. 

So, do you need an extensive application form on your website?

If your recruitment agency has a large contract for a warehouse chain that requires a constant supply of people, then you may have more of an argument.  But even then, your own recruitment agency will host some form of interview process.  Can you gather more information on your website than you can at an interview?

Websites that implement the one-click-apply button will make life easier for the applicant.  It is an easy thing to implement, and will help you meet the challenge of attracting Gen Z workers.

Ooh look – pretty, moving pictures

One of the best ways of overcoming the challenge of attracting Gen Z is to incorporate video.  Advertising your job in a vlog or a short video is likely to increase engagement.

Videos are easy to distribute, and within the content, a lot of information can be delivered without those daunting blocks text cramming all the input onto one page.  A lot of streaming and catch up services are interrupted by video ads.  This is a good way to reach your prospective candidates.

Concise content that speaks the Gen Z language

Gen Z are a lot more serious a generation than their predecessors.  As such, they need to be taken more seriously.  Whereas there has always been a struggle with Millennials trying to get new technology into workplaces with their staid and stoic bosses, Gen Z will have an easier time convincing their Millennial and Gen X bosses of the value of new technology.  In many ways it should be easier for them to communicate.

However, with this seriousness and eagerness to communicate comes an aversion to blown smoke. 

Therefore, you need to be authentic and honest.

Disingenuous copy will lose your prospective applicant very quickly.  Your copy need only be simple and direct, giving the information that the applicant will need.

Gen Z job targeting

Better use of segmentation and personalisation

With all forms of marketing you won’t find a marketer, or a thought leader, who won’t discuss personalisation and targeting in a glowing encomium. It has long been a deadly force in email marketing, and now with dynamic content, many other aspects of your marketing can be personalised and targeted.

The main thing is to make sure recruiters are getting their ads in front of the right people.  For instance, there’s no chance I’d click on a job advert seeking a lingerie designer.  The same goes for the Gen Z generation.  They have spent a lot of time on the internet, and the information they leave enables people to target them better.

A Gen Z prospective candidate is going to act very much the same.  If the ad isn’t of interest, they will act negatively towards it or ignore it entirely. 

Wrapping up the recruiter’s challenges

The earth-changing affect that technology can have is both a bonus and a conundrum.  Boomers have unleashed their “this wouldn’t happen in my day” rhetoric on the Millennials for so long now, there is almost a negative connotation with the word “Millennial” now.  Personally, I think for a while, there is going to be similar differences in communication with Gen Z. 

But the future is inescapable.  The largest consumer group and workforce won’t always be the Millennials.  Gen Z are coming through, and it won’t be long before they are the outnumbering power everyone is uncertain of.

With it will come change.  A lot of change in fact.  More liberal ideas towards politics, more acceptance within the workplace with regards to freedom of expression and identity.  That within itself will bring a lot of turmoil into the professional setting, and a lot of misunderstanding between generations.

Fortunately, for recruiters, they cannot afford to be involved with the political infighting and philosophical differences.  We’re soon to be saturated with a young progressive work force, and it isn’t their job to react to us.  We must react to them.

As always, if you feel like there is something missing from this article, or You’ve something to add that others can learn from, please leave a comment below.


Due to his MA in English, Adam has taken roost in our very own dictionary corner. His articles are a mixture of brow-furrowing research and the experience he has gained with us here at LeadMetrics.