The future of talent acquisition is Gen Z

December 18, 2023 Updated: January 16, 2024 6 min read

Generation Z is the youngest generation in the workforce. What does that mean for your recruitment strategy? Read on for five ways to build a hiring process that benefits this Gen Z—and everyone else along the way.

How designing for one benefits all

Have you ever heard of the “curb-cut effect”? 

When disabled veterans started coming home from World War II, the first sidewalk ramps—curb cuts—were installed in Michigan. By the time they were signed into law, in 1990, those sloped sidewalks weren’t just helping disabled commuters. They were also making life easier for parents with strollers, workers with heavy carts, travelers with luggage, and even skateboarders.

Woman walking dog on sidewalk curb cut

The lesson: When you design to accommodate one group, you end up helping others too. What does this have to do with talent acquisition? More than you think.

To optimize your recruitment process, tailor your approach to the next generation of workers—Generation Z. As you meet their needs, you’ll find a pathway to recruiting that ends up serving everyone.

Getting to know Gen Z

When it comes to the future of talent acquisition, nothing says “future” like the newest generation of workers. According to one Deloitte article, “Entire industries and businesses will rise and fall in the wake of Generation Z.” It’s time we got to know them.

Who is Gen Z?

Born in the late ‘90s to early 2010s, the oldest Gen Z workers are in their mid-twenties now. They’re expected to be the most populous and diverse generation yet.

They might be young, but they’ve experienced plenty: inflation, domestic terrorism, increasing gun violence, and civil unrest. Many were school-aged during the pandemic. As digital natives, they’ve never known a world without the internet, and they hold a huge amount of influence through their social media platforms. 

Gen Z has its own distinct culture and preferences. They tend to be entrepreneurial, tech-dependent, pragmatic, and take social issues seriously.

Person Wearing a Yin Yang Ring touching a cake labeled Gen Z

What does Gen Z need at work?

More than any previous generations, Gen Z candidates care about an organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, sustainability, and other social issues like global hunger. They want their personal values to align with their employers.

They also share a desire for fair compensation, work-life balance, attentive leadership, good benefits, flexibility, and a positive work environment.

Meet their unique needs—the focus on DEI and social issues—with the needs they have in common with all workers—flexibility, autonomy, a positive environment, and fair compensation. You’ll have a strong talent acquisition strategy now and into the future.

Meeting Gen Z’s needs

The future of talent acquisition depends on being able to attract and retain Gen Z applicants. Designing a recruitment strategy to benefit Gen Zers will benefit all potential candidates. Use these five strategies to tailor your process moving forward.

1. Lead with transparency

Gen Z employees want to work for companies that align with their values. They want to know how your organization approaches DEI, sustainability, and pay equity.

Make sure you’re sharing your company’s story. Highlight the ways your organization reaches its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals or its social justice initiatives. Include your mission and values in messaging, job descriptions, and branding. 

It isn’t just Gen Z applicants that benefit from your transparency. Pay transparency shrinks the pay gap and helps build trust between your brand and other applicants. Sharing accurate information about open positions will improve candidate job understanding. New hires will feel more engaged and prepared for the work ahead of them.

Painted poster that says "one world"

2. Embrace DEI 

A recent survey showed that 83% of Gen Z consider an employer’s DEI efforts when applying for a job. Pursuing DEI in your workplace, and making those efforts known to applicants, will help attract your Gen Z talent.

To Gen Z, diversity goes beyond race and gender inclusion to encompass people of varying sexual orientations, abilities, and viewpoints. Fostering a workplace that embraces and supports this kind of diversity is not just good for Gen Z employees, it’s good for all employees. Strong DEI efforts increase productivity, innovation, and employee engagement.

Remember, too, that Gen Zers will be the most diverse generation the workforce has seen. Becoming culturally competent and inclusive as a recruiter is more important than ever before. Learn how to engage respectfully with talent from all walks of life.

3. Use high-quality technology

Meet your tech-savvy talent with technology they’ll appreciate. Optimize your hiring site and recruiting apps for speed, efficiency, and a streamlined user experience. 

Consider using artificial intelligence (AI) to evaluate candidates’ soft and hard skills. Because of the pandemic, Gen Z applicants may not have had the opportunity to complete hands-on training or internships while they were students. Skills assessments can help match them with best-fitting roles.

If you upgrade your tools to meet your applicant needs, you’ll make life easier for other applicants too. User-friendly tech will get candidates to their new jobs more quickly and with much less stress.

4. Deliver a great candidate experience

Take special care to meet the needs of the generation who rates “having fun at my job” as “extremely important” 61% of the time. This might sound trivial at first, but “having fun” really means that Gen Z wants to be a part of a strong, collaborative, and supportive work community. They care about company culture.

Show them your workplace offers those things with a warm and welcoming hiring process. Offer benefits that support mental health and mentorship. Employees of older generations will also benefit from these programs.

Consider, too, that flexibility is very important to Gen Z. This is not unique to them—98% of workers prefer remote work, at least part of the time. Shape a hiring process that supports these preferences. Offer remote video interviews or one-way interviews that can be completed at any hour of the day. This approach to scheduling also benefits caregivers or applicants with other responsibilities.

Cheerful young people with smartphone looking at screen

5. Develop your current talent

Expand your talent acquisition strategy to include your current employees. As the “career lattice” becomes more common than the “career ladder,” employees are expected to be multi-talented—with digital skills, analytic abilities, creative talent, and management know-how. 

Encourage your workforce to pursue new areas of growth. This both secures the future of your company and will attract the next wave of candidates. Supporting your existing talent shows Gen Z that you’re ready and willing to guide them to success, develop their talents, and prepare them for the future. 

Invest in the talent you have with upskill or reskill courses, employee resource groups (ERG), or mentorship programs. As you empower your current employees, they become brand ambassadors and, in turn, attract more top talent.

Engaging Gen Z is the way forward

The future of work depends on the next generation. Meeting Gen Z’s unique needs will help you attract and retain new talent. And will benefit both your current employees and the rest of your candidate pool along the way.

As Gen Z enters the workforce in greater numbers, continue to learn more about who they are and how you can connect with them. Design a hiring strategy that supports them, and you’ll find a path forward that benefits everyone. Yourself included.

Not sure where to start? Chat with our hiring experts at Clovers today!

Doug Leonard

Doug is constantly working to make the hiring process more objective, insightful, and informed. As a trusted leader in the recruitment industry, Doug is always ready to guide candidates and companies to (and through) a person-first hiring experience.

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