With spring commencement ceremonies winding down, it’s caps off to the roughly 1.9 million students—based on National Center for Education Statistics projections—who will earn a bachelor’s degree in 2019. There’s high demand for this year’s crop of graduates, too. In fact, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reports that the job market for new graduates hasn’t been this good since 2007, according to findings from its Class of 2019 Student Survey. In addition, NACE’s continued tracking of employers’ hiring plans indicates that companies will likely hire 10.7% more graduates this year than in 2018.
Against this backdrop of increased competition, organizations are welcoming a new generation of employees to the workforce as the oldest members of Gen Z have just begun graduating from college. Employers seeking to attract and retain these workers will need to consider what matters most to Gen Z and how their workplaces align with expectations.
Job Security and Skills Development Surpass Pay
Gen Z may be too young to recall 9/11—one of the most defining moments for Millennials coming of age—but stark memories of the Great Recession have clearly shaped their perspectives. NACE’s current analysis of student attitudes finds that job security leads in importance, with nearly 83% of students rating it as a very of extremely important job attribute. This is closely followed by opportunities to develop their skills (both job-specific and applied), friendly co-workers and insurance/benefits.
Other important attributes include the ability to improve their communities, work on assignments that are clearly defined, be recognized for their contributions and work for an employer that embraces diversity. Far less important to Gen Z are high starting salaries, a casual environment, being located close to home and working for a well-known company.
Crafting the Messages that Matter
Given the fierce battle setting up for the next generation of talent, employers will need to assess their value propositions within the context of Gen Z perspectives and shape recruitment brand messaging accordingly. Talent acquisition teams should determine how their organization’s employer value proposition aligns with student attitudes so that campus recruiters can play up the organization’s strengths through proof points and stories that provide evidence of the value proposition.
While large-scale student surveys are a good starting point for understanding what Gen Z wants, don’t stop there. Look to your current interns and most recent new grad hires for insights as to what matters most to them and why they ultimately chose your organization, as well as specific examples that will bring the experience to life for prospective hires. Also, pull secondary research reports about the attitudes and perspectives of students by major or field of study as important distinctions often exist.
Use your findings to drive all student recruitment marketing communications, especially as you update your materials for campus recruiting programs and events. NACE reports that nearly all (99%) of the employers that responded to its latest Job Outlook survey plan to recruit on campus this fall, which means that authentic and engaging messaging is essential for those who want to stand out from the competition.