For most post-secondary students, “heading back to campus” this fall likely means logging on to the computer from home as many colleges and universities continue to operate virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. And, even at the institutions planning for in-person classes, large gatherings—which include campus career fairs and information sessions—will be prohibited.
In response, numerous employers have embraced virtual recruiting events to keep their internship and early-career talent pipelines full. Those realizing the best results recognize that it’s not simply about following best practices for virtual event recruiting, though doing so is essential to success. It’s equally important to develop meaningful, authentic recruitment messaging that resonates with Gen Z during challenging times.
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Understand Gen Z Perspectives: From Confidence to Concern
The first step in creating strong recruitment messaging is to arrive at a solid understanding of Gen Z’s current mindset. This begins with the recognition that students and recent graduates are still reeling from a world turned upside down. Following years of hard work and the expectation that a strong job market awaited them, Gen Z is now left wondering how to adjust to an economy that bears little resemblance to what existed at the start of 2020.
Consider research conducted by Deloitte this spring—well after the impacts of COVID-19 were evident— that finds that nearly 30% of Gen Z respondents reported either having lost their jobs or being placed on temporary, unpaid leave. Among those still in school, disappointment arrived in the form of canceled internships with only a limited number of organizations agile enough to offer virtual options.
Make Empathy the Foundation of All Interactions
Given the stress and anxiety Gen Z is trying to manage, make sure your organization practices empathy when communicating with them. Review the language that you are using in your recruitment communications to ensure the appropriate tone of voice. Remind recruiters and hiring managers not to be overly critical of Gen Z candidates who appear nervous during interviews or if they stumble through one of their responses to your questions.
Just like the rest of us, students are trying to adapt to an uncertain world. However, unlike more experienced workers, few members of Gen Z will possess the skills that are developed through having to pick yourself up from a prior professional setback.
Embed Relevant Themes in Your Communications
In addition, it’s critical that you assess your messaging within the context of the struggles faced by Gen Z and make changes as needed across all recruitment marketing materials so they don’t read as irrelevant or outdated. Yes, students and recent grads still want to know more about your organization’s career paths and the learning and development opportunities available to them. They’ll continue to be attracted to tech-savvy environments that prioritize collaboration and innovation.
But, they also want to know how your organization is treating its employees during the pandemic and the impacts of COVID-19 on the business strategy. Here, you need to be as transparent as possible, sharing specific details and examples that speak directly to your culture in a relatable manner.
Don’t overlook messaging when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) commitments, either. The most diverse generation in history, Gen Z has high expectations when it comes to your company’s DEI track record. Monster’s 2020 State of the Candidate Survey notes that 83% of Gen Z candidates say, “that a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is important when choosing an employer.” Your talent acquisition team needs to play a leading role in both generating diverse early-career talent pools and guiding the organizations in how to answer tough questions from Gen Z as related to the current status of DEI at your organization, as well as the investments that are planned to help realize DEI goals and objectives.
As you evolve your recruitment marketing messaging and materials to reflect the complexities of today’s recruiting environment, update other essential details such as how your hiring process has been altered and what candidates should now expect from the experience, especially as related to internship programs and early-career opportunities. Apply your revised messaging and make updates to all relevant touchpoints, including:
- Career website content and landing pages
- Job postings
- Email marketing and text recruiting templates
- Candidate FAQs
- Chatbot playbooks
- Virtual recruiting event promotions
- Interview and hiring process guides
- Talent CRM auto-drip campaigns
Finally, it’s generally best to assign a talent acquisition team member to own this effort as a single point of contact for the initiative drives consistency among all channels and streamlines the management of ongoing revisions in response to the continually shifting campus recruiting environment.
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