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Attracting Gen Z: 7 Ways to Attract the Next Generation of Talent

September 8, 2021
iCIMS Staff
8 min read
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Born between 1997 and 2012, Generation Z includes about 67 million people. As the newest named generation, you may think of Gen Z as a group of children and teens. But the reality is that the oldest of this group is now 24 years old! That’s right, folks. Gen Z has officially entered the workforce. 

To attract, engage, and hire Gen Z candidates, recruiters should take some time to understand the world they grew up in. Gen Z was born into a world full of digital conveniences – cell phones, social media, and Wi-Fi. But they also watched their parents uneasily navigate the 2008 market crash and were disproportionately at risk of losing their jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Recent surveys also show that compared to previous generations:  

  • Gen Z was not likely to drop out of high school and more likely to enroll in college.
  • Gen Z is more racially and ethnically diverse.
  • Gen Z had less work experience in their teens and young adulthood. 

Understanding Gen Z’s preferences, behaviors, and backgrounds may help recruiters create more effective strategies to attract this generation to the current workforce.

Here are seven tactics your TA team can use to appeal to Gen Z candidates.  

1. Enhance career sites and job postings for Google

Your career site is a great resource for Gen Z to quickly find information about open roles and submit a job application. However, before some applicants reach your career site, they’re diverted to third-party job sites and tasked with filling out repetitive forms and profiles. Search results from job boards can be a turn-off for Gen Z if the content is irrelevant or not a good fit.  

When you optimize your career site for Google, your open positions can be featured on Google’s search results pages when someone searches for a key phrase like “software developer Houston.” These job postings can show information that Gen Z cares about, like commute time, salary, responsibilities, etc. By providing as much detail as possible, candidates will find your open roles quicker via Google, leading to a simplified application process and a better candidate experience.

2. Create compelling and meaningful content

According to a recent survey, when asked what they do with their free time, 74% of Gen Z respondents say they spend it online. This indicates that TA teams may benefit from a digital content strategy.   

Create and share content about your brand that’s compelling and speaks directly to the Gen Z candidate, such as content about your purpose, diversity and inclusion, culture, training, social responsibility, and industry-specific conversations (think women in tech, for example). Share content on your career and social sites to inform your candidates and promote organic search through Google. The more you create and publish relevant content, the greater chance you have of leading Gen Z candidates to your career site.

3. Use text recruiting for low-pressure interactions

Gen Z grew up with technology in a way that no other generation did. A 2018 study found that 95% of 13–17-year-olds had access to a smartphone. But it’s not exactly the “phone” part that Gen Z likes so much. Another study found that 73.4% of U.S. Gen Z and Millennials would choose their smartphone’s messaging app over the phone app if they could only keep one.     

Text messaging is a low-pressure interaction. It is quick to respond to (averaging 90 seconds) and less formal than a phone call or email.   

Recruiters can take advantage of text messaging to communicate with Gen Z candidates in a way that is familiar and accessible to them. With text recruiting software, recruiters can automate sending and receiving texts and support efficiency, compliance, and scale within their process. 

Learn more about text recruiting software in our post, Why texting should be a part of your recruiting process.

4. Showcase diversity in your employer branding

The iCIMS Class of 2021 report found that 58% of college seniors look for diversity to be showcased during the hiring or interview process. Gen Z likely values diversity at work so much because they are the most diverse generation. They are simply looking for their own experiences and communities to be reflected in their workplace.  

Stock images and empty mission statements won’t cut it for Gen Z. Instead, they look for concrete displays of diversity, equity, and inclusion practices within your employer brand. Employee resource groups (ERGs), employee video testimonials, or a Chief Diversity Officer are all ways your brand can showcase a genuine and tangible commitment to DEI. 

In addition, employers should aim for consistent branding across various platforms. Generation Z is the most connected generation – if your employer brand differs from one platform to the next, they may question your values and be turned off to your brand entirely.

5. Use social media job applications

Companies can use social media to showcase their employer brand and allow Gen Z candidates to apply for jobs from their mobile devices. There are various social media platforms available, so it’s important to identify exactly where Gen Z spends their time. In 2021, studies have found that users age 18-24 are especially likely to use Instagram (76%), Snapchat (75%), and TikTok (55%).  

In July of 2021, TikTok launched a pilot resume program that allowed candidates to submit job applications directly through the app. Snapchat has also implemented features that enable global brands like McDonald’s to attract and engage job applicants through the platform. 

These experiences mirror the types of consumer and entertainment experiences Gen Z is already familiar with and has come to expect from brands on social media. To capitalize on this trend, TA teams can create mobile-optimized career sites and job applications. These foundational elements can be more easily integrated into a social media campaign, and ultimately, provide a more seamless experience for digital native Gen Z applicants.

6. Implement an employee referral program

A great way to attract candidates from any generation is through an employee referral program. However, it may be easier to attract Gen Z candidates through word-of-mouth referrals than previous generations.   

A 2018 study found that Generation Z and Millennials are 43% more likely to engage in “pass along” word of mouth. This means they “heard good things” about a product or service but did not experience it directly. When Gen Z employees refer a friend to your company, that friend may, in turn, refer your company to a third person because they “heard good things” about your company culture or benefits.  

Your TA team can support this word-of-mouth chain with a robust employee referral program. Starting with your talent acquisition software, employers can implement a well-functioning and sustainable employee referral program that makes it effortless for Gen Z employees to share open positions with their peers. With a thriving employee referral program, your current talent pool could be your company’s best source for hiring Gen Z

7. Provide development guidance

In Gen Z’s lifetime, they’ve watched their parents navigate the 2008 market crash, lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic, experienced protests, riots, and the effects of global climate change. These events have proven to Gen Z that the future is uncertain.  

These experiences may affect Gen Z’s views on workplace longevity. They want to be prepared for unexpected change and have the tools necessary to adapt to new working conditions or job expectations.   

Provide clear career paths, mentorship programs, and training to help attract Gen Z to your company. These programs can prove to Gen Z candidates that you value them for the long-term potential they bring to your company, not just for their ability to fill an entry-level role. 

Additionally, investing in the future of your entry-level employees can reap significant rewards for your company overall. Building an internal pool of qualified talent can enable your TA teams to fill open positions more quickly. Reduced time to hire can often lead to company cost savings and improved recruiter productivity.

Attract Gen Z talent with the iCIMS Talent Cloud

Gen Z wants personalized communications, equitable hiring practices, and the potential for career advancement. We’ve just scratched the surface with seven tactics, and there are many more creative and effective ways to attract Gen Z candidates. 

Download our Guide to Attracting Talent to learn more about how the iCIMS Talent Cloud can support these hiring best practices and attract the newest generation of employees.



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