Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z is on track to be America’s most diverse and educated generation in history. As the first true digital natives, Gen Z also considers access to technology a given. The Center for Generational Kinetics reports that 61% of Gen Zers now use their phones for at least five hours per day.
Yet, beyond basic demographic data and a preference for all things digital, how well do you really know your target audience, especially given the buzz and bias that fuels our thinking about generational differences? Here, we look at three Gen Z myths and what the realities mean for campus recruiters.
Myth #1: If you want to raise awareness of your job opportunities among Gen Z, social media is your best bet.
Given that members of Gen Z turn to social media for nearly every aspect of their lives, it seems counterintuitive that it doesn’t top their list of job search strategies and tools. In fact, a mere 40% of respondents to NACE’s 2018 Student Survey report that they use social media in their job search. This even applies to social platforms designed for professional networking—just 36.9% of students who used social in their search say that LinkedIn was useful for finding a job.
Better strategies for conveying job opportunities to new grads include attending campus career fairs and making sure roles for new grads are easy to find and apply to from your career website. In 2018, the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) asked more than 16,000 Gen Z high school and college students how they had looked or planned to look for a job. “Attend a job fair” ties for third place along with “speak to my school counseling or career services office.”
Myth #2: Gen Z prefers to communicate with recruiters via text.
While it’s tempting to assume that today’s college students prefer text over more traditional channels such as email and career fairs, research indicates that’s not necessarily the case. When respondents to the NSHSS survey rated their preference regarding how companies should pass along information about job opportunities, “email” was rated the highest at 85% versus “text messaging” at 39%.
Of course, the reality is probably more nuanced and there are Gen Z perspectives that reinforce the preference for texting. But keep in mind that preferences may shift depending on where candidates are in the search process. For instance, students may prefer to learn about your corporate culture via Instagram while status updates and feedback regarding a specific job they applied to should be communicated via email. And, you may find that texting is extremely effective when setting up interviews and sending interview reminders.
Myth #3: Members of Gen Z feel well prepared to enter the workforce.
Gen Zers are already known for having accrued significant internship experience and for a dedicated focus on coursework related to their intended profession. So, it’s no wonder that, as noted in Gartner’s 2018 Global Labor Market Survey, 23% of Gen Z candidates view development as a critical component of a job opportunity—up from 17% of Millennials in 2013.
Surprisingly, even though they have high rates of internships and very career-focused coursework under their belts, many feel unprepared for the world of work. InsideOut Development’s research finds that “not being good enough” is the second-most common answer when asked what scares them about working. Help alleviate their concerns by emphasizing training and development programs tailored to new hires, the use of orientation “buddies” throughout onboarding to ease the transition, and any ongoing coaching or mentoring opportunities that your organization provides.
What’s not a myth when it comes to recruiting Gen Z on campus?
Gen Z will expect nothing less than a recruiting process that integrates technology appropriately across all candidate touchpoints. Don’t invest both the time and resources required to be on campus only to have your event fall flat because you’re focused on administrative tasks instead of your target audience. The right campus and event recruiting software makes it possible to pre-screen resumes in advance of the event and arrange onsite interviews with ideal candidates through automated self-service scheduling functionality.
The emergence of Gen Z doesn’t mean that employers need to completely overhaul their college recruiting strategies. However, those that take time to understand how the interests and needs of their target audience have shifted, adjusting their messaging and modernizing their approach accordingly, will be best positioned to succeed in today’s highly competitive environment.
Get more GR8 insights and strategies to help you connect and engage with Gen Z on campus. Download our Campus Hiring 101 E-Book today.