Recruiting and Retaining Gen Z
How to Welcome Young Adults Into Your Workplace 

Danielle Farage & Rosa Beltran

Why aren’t Gen Z adults applying to your company and jobs?

Social media has often been associated with Generation Z, and many see the platforms in a negative light for consuming the attention and time of today’s young adults. But could social media be a space for viral dance videos and job postings? Gen Z’ers Danielle Farage and Rosa Beltran discuss the relationship between Generation Z, the job market, and the strategies companies with unfilled positions are developing for greater applicants and exposure.

Even before the global pandemic, Gen Z adults were criticized for being lazy, entitled, asking for too much pay, or simply leaving a job when situations became too difficult. One reason for this, Farage points out, is the tedious recruitment process that often results in little to no feedback. And since the pandemic, many applicants are now seeing a very different side of companies as well. Beltran says this negative attention—from long hours to “essential” worker status—has made Gen Z job applicants more hesitant to work with certain companies.

However, some companies are working to change their recruiting strategies to attract Gen Z applicants. A recent trend is “A Day in the Life,” Beltran says. These TikTok videos provide interested applicants with a clear picture of tasks completed in a particular position within the company.

Why aren’t Gen Z adults applying to jobs?

Much of the older population see Gen Z as any other generation: lazy, entitled, maybe even whiny. They see young adults and teenagers on their phones, devouring video trends and instant messages, and wonder how the world ever came to this. Even before the global pandemic, Gen Z adults have been criticized for wanting too much out of a job, asking for too much pay, or simply leaving a job when situations became too difficult. So, what’s causing this?

For one, modern young adults feel targeted. They’re the scapegoat for every job and wage discussion, blamed for their knowledge of technology and their lack of “relevant skills.” Older generations are compelling Gen Z to adapt rather than meeting them halfway, leaving many young adults disinterested and dissatisfied.

Another issue, Danielle Farage points out, is the interview process. Applicants dedicate a considerable amount of time to interviewing for a single position, sometimes going through more than five interviews with various managers. Yet after all the time spent researching a potential employer and considering talking points, the applicant is rejected with little to no reason why. While we all have to learn how to deal with rejection, some interview processes take a toll on those new to the workforce before they can get acclimated.

How has COVID changed the way Gen Z views job openings?

The pandemic has affected employers and employees in a number of ways. One of the most noticeable differences: Working from home is now an option. Though many employers insisted no employees had the potential to work from home, this last year has proven most requirements can be fulfilled outside of the office.

Rose Beltran also points out some of the negative attention companies have recently received because of the pandemic: “COVID definitely did expose the realities of some companies, of how they treat their employees, and that also has halted others from actually joining those companies.” From long hours to “essential” worker status, employees have been put to the test in several corporations, and they’re not staying silent about it. With their overwhelming access to online reviews and postings, Gen Z applicants are now more knowledgeable about the work environment and ethics of many employers and workplaces. 

What are companies doing now and what can they do better?

Some employers have started adjusting their recruiting methods to include posting positions on various social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook and even recording employees’ day-to-day activities. Beltran says she’s seen some employers using unique approaches, such as posting “A Day in the Life” videos to TikTok. It may seem like an unusual recruitment technique, but these videos offer viewers a clearer idea of what a specific job will entail; at the same time, these clips present potential applicants with an initial view of the employer itself.

Regardless of the recruitment platform, Farage says, employers must remember to match the workplace to the message they send applicants. Along with being technologically savvy, Gen Z applicants are resourceful and often dedicated to demonstrating their social values. This may include having a volunteer day, maintaining an environmentally friendly office, or supporting particular social issues. An employer may include these elements as a recruitment tactic to attract as many applicants as possible, but that may lead to more bad than good.

Gen Z young adults are looking for work, just not in the place you might expect. By using new recruitment techniques, sticking to the message initially presented, and offering workplace flexibility, employers are likely to have an influx of dedicated Gen Z applicants. For more information on how to recruit and retain Gen Z employees, listen to “Recruiting Gen Z in a TikTok World.”

In addition to “A Day in the Life” videos, companies can use social media’s versatility to view visual resumes and promote new job openings. Twitter and TikTok are great places for recruiters to find new talent, but there are also individual communities forming on various platforms depending on the community members they wish to attract. Recruiters also have to remember just how resourceful Gen Z applicants are, as social media provides one of many ways to research a company and its true values as opposed to those outwardly promoted. If a Gen Z applicant doesn’t like what they see, or if the company doesn’t consider an applicant’s desire for flexibility, it may result in fewer candidates.

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Podcast Quotes

1. Take the time to see how social media works, how TikTok works, and how it makes an impact [on GenZ]. (11:31)
2. “It may not be recruiting Gen Z; it might be how to retain them.” (15:19)
3. “It’s important to show the values of a company [and] in doing so… being super intentional about how you’re portraying the company in the eyes of someone who works there.” (13:30)
4. Actually I've never worked a day in the office [thanks to COVID] and that is an incredibly unique experience and one that most people can't relate to. (17:34)
5. “COVID definitely did expose the realities of some companies, of how they treat their employees, and that also has halted others from actually joining those companies.” (18:48)
6. “In order for someone to want to work for the company, you have to sell all of those accomplishments instead of nit picking exactly what they have to bring to the table.” (24:08)
7. “A lot of communities live on one platform specifically based on who their members are.” (32:49)
8. “In 2020, we saw a lot of companies talk about diversity and treat it as sort of this flavor of the month. Whereas the lived experience of many employees at X Company didn’t actually align with the narrative that they were telling.” (36:21)

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