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Each new generation enters the workforce with distinct qualities and cultural experiences, which in turn offer challenges and opportunities for recruiting teams to tackle. During Talent Acquisition Week 2024 in San Diego, CA, Kate Beckman, Director of Community and Insights at RippleMatch, took us into the minds of Gen Z (those born from 1997-2012) and their thoughts about work, the job market and employer expectations.
Kate kicked off the session by asking everyone to consider the unique set of factors that have shaped this youngest generation in the workforce. This perspective is crucial when it comes to Gen Z recruitment and retention. Their formative professional years have been marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, witnessing remote work become the norm and experiencing the impact of sudden layoffs and furloughs.
These experiences have significantly influenced their relationship with work and perceptions of job security.
Additionally, the discourse around AI and automation presents both opportunities and uncertainties for them, further shaping their approach to career development.
Beckman presented findings from a survey of 3,000 Gen Z respondents, conducted in January 2024 by RippleMatch.
Understanding Gen Z’s Job Search Confidence
Gen Z’s confidence in the job market has waned over the past 2 years, down to 48% in 2024 from 62% in 2022. Opinions also slightly differ by gender.
Particularly, about 54% of Gen Z women reported a lack of confidence in securing jobs or internships that align with their standards, as opposed to 51% of Gen Z men. These data points underscore a crucial need for recruitment marketers to build strategies that instill confidence and clarity, especially among female candidates.
Gen Z’s Approach to Job Applications
The newest generation of our workforce utilizes a job application strategy that is characterized by mass applications (e.g., LinkedIn EasyApply), with 61% of candidates submitting at least 100 applications per job hunting cycle.
This trend is propelled by digital convenience and awareness of a highly competitive job market. Gen Z has high technology literacy, with 50% using AI tools like ChatGPT for resume and cover letter writing. These AI tools are fairly new to the public, which highlights their adaptability and tech-savviness.
For TA leaders, this means crafting more engaging and personalized communication strategies to effectively attract these digital natives.
The Candidate Experience and Attitude Towards Reneging
The survey also shed light on Gen Z’s expectations of hiring processes and candidate experiences, which offer TA teams actionable steps and goalposts. A majority group, 66%, expects a response from companies within 5-7 business days post-application submission, and 79% of candidates believe the entire hiring process (from application to offer) should take one month or less.
Additionally, a notable trend emerged showing Gen Z’s openness to reneging on job offers if better opportunities come along, with about 70% indicating their willingness to do so. Their high expectations for compelling and transparent recruitment experiences will require TA teams to review their existing operating procedures and internal standards, to ensure they are in alignment with the market.
Retention Strategies for Gen Z
Retention of Gen Z hinges on several key factors, with competitive compensation and benefits topping the list. RippleMatch’s survey highlighted that Gen Z prioritizes high compensation over extensive benefits packages, with a majority favoring higher salaries over health and wellness benefits.
This preference is especially pronounced among Gen Z women, who also place higher importance on company culture and stability. Furthermore, the preference for hybrid work models over fully remote or in-person settings is key in retaining Gen Z talent.
This cohort also expects to be recognized and rewarded for their work quickly, with 61% expecting promotions every 1.5-2 years.
Adapting to Gen Z’s Evolving Workplace Expectations
The pandemic and the ensuing shift to remote work have significantly influenced Gen Z’s workplace preferences. Many, having started their careers remotely, now seek a balance—preferring hybrid work models over entirely in-person or entirely remote. This aligns with their desire for flexibility as well as mentorship and workplace camaraderie that translates more effectively in person.
Moreover, the session emphasized the need for organizations to understand and adapt to these evolving expectations to ensure Gen Z’s engagement and retention.
These insights provide a roadmap for navigating the unique challenges and opportunities in recruiting and retaining Gen Z. Their formative years, shaped by global events like the pandemic, economic shifts, and technological evolution, have crafted a distinct approach to their careers.
Engaging Gen Z requires a blend of innovation in communication, a clear articulation of career paths and an emphasis on the holistic work experience. By integrating these tailored strategies into our recruitment marketing and retention practices, we can create a thriving environment where the potential of Gen Z is fully realized, contributing to a future that’s innovative, inclusive and forward-thinking.
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