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How to hire Gen Z: 11 strategies for small businesses

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Fun fact: Gen Z accounts for more than two billion members of the global population, and it’s estimated that by 2025, they’ll constitute around 27% of the global workforce. 

The good news: you have a large recruitment pool of Gen Z talent to choose from. The less-than-good news: given their age, Gen Z applications might have little experience or limited higher education. Luckily, they’re fast learners who are brimming with creativity and new ways of approaching today’s problems. 

The question is: does your business have what it takes to hire Gen Z… and maybe even keep them around?

Today, we’ll look at what recruiting Generation Z entails and what approaches work best. If you want to skip to a particular section, you can use the handy links below: 

Who is Gen Z?

The generation before Gen Z are millennials. They’re defined as being born between 1981 and 1996, meaning they’re now aged between 25 and 40. The new cohort is Generation Z, born from 1997 onwards. This makes the oldest of them around 24. Sometimes, 1996 is used as a starting point, but 1997 is more common. 

It should be noted here that these groups are not defined exactly by science. The only group with an official designation from the US Census Bureau are Baby Boomers—those born between 1946 and 1965.

Gen Zers are characterized by more than their age or birth year. There are several commonalities we assign to this group, such as:

While some may think of Gen Z as being the luckiest of recent generations, the reality is that they face more challenges than their parents did. However, as the world continues to change in this digital era, they have the advantage of being the most tech-savvy, with an easy understanding of business phone systems and other tech. 

It’s this quality that makes the group especially attractive to companies looking to recruit a long-term workforce. 

Why should you hire Gen Z right now?

So, why hire Gen Z? The list of reasons is long and includes: 

  1. Optimism. Despite rising inequality and a shrinking middle class, Gen Zers are optimistic about their futures, with 85 percent believing they’ll be better off than their parents.  
  2. Career vs. money. Gen Z often prioritizes having a successful career with a good job title and making money over other life factors such as marriage or traveling. 
  3. Eagerness. Because they’re focused on their careers, they’re eager to learn and to start moving up the employment ladder. That means they’ll take on internships or volunteering opportunities to enhance their resume. 
  4. Independence. Gen Z tends to be more independent than millenials and thus more able to work on their own, making them ideal candidates if you have a work-from-anywhere policy.
  5. Time. As well as being the youngest generational cohort, Gen Zers do not like the idea of wasting time. They’ve been born into a world where, thanks to advances in tech, anything and everything is at their fingertips: information, education, entertainment, and the growing world of eCommerce. 
  6. Tech-savvy. Unlike previous generations, using tech is second nature to most Gen Zers. As tech has evolved, they’ve quickly adapted to new hardware, software, and features. They’re sometimes referred to as “the Tik Tok generation” as they’ve been at the forefront of that platform’s rapid growth. They learn quickly, even when presented with new (to them) systems such as call center software.

11 strategies for recruiting and hiring Gen Z

So, you know who Gen Z are. You know their qualities and what problems they face. But how do you go about recruiting them?

1. Target them now

With the current cohort of working-age Gen Zers aged between 16 and 24, you need to think about recruiting (or at least attracting their interest) now. That means segmenting them into three groups: those who plan to start work straight from high school, those who plan to go to college, and those who’ve already graduated.

Part of any targeting of top talent will be experimental, and part will be based on the same sort of data that informs your marketing. You may not be advertising specific jobs at this stage, but you should be seeking to expand awareness of your company to pique interest. 

You may offer internships or part-time positions and should use Gen Z’s preferred platforms to do so, such as Instagram and Snapchat.

2. Emphasize opportunities

Many Gen Zers want stability, but they also like to know there will be opportunities within the company they work for. When you create informative content about your business, focus on opportunities for advancement, including any training or further education you’re willing to provide or sponsor.  

Of course, financial rewards are important to them too. Emphasize any benefits your company offers, as well as highlighting how they can climb the corporate ladder. These might include:

3. Consider freelancers

Depending on your business type and model, you may not want all of your workforce to be permanent and/or contracted. Equally, many Gen Zers either do not want a permanent anchor or struggle to find this due to fluctuations in their chosen field and the ongoing effects of the pandemic. 

Around 50 percent of Gen Zers are freelance. This may be because of the barriers mentioned or because they want the freedom of working from anywhere. With advanced techs, such as communications platforms that allow team collaboration regardless of location, freelancing is an option that can suit both parties. So, don’t count out this type of talent. 

4. Be tech-friendly

You know your recruitment targets are more tech-savvy than any other generation, but are you? To connect with Gen Z, you need to speak their language (and no, that doesn’t mean saying something like, “Hey fam, let me spill the tea on this lit job.”). It means communicating with them via their preferred instant messaging program or even a video call.

It also means every part of your online presence (website, social media, etc.) has to be fully optimized and mobile-friendly for them to access. When it comes to the interview stage, make sure you offer virtual face-to-face meetings using the latest in video conferencing tools.

Might we suggest RingCentral MVP™? You’ll get messaging, video, and phone in one platform that’s easy to access via desktop and mobile devices:

Checking team messages on RingCentral app

5. Stay up to date

If you want to attract the brightest, most tech-savvy candidates, the equipment and tech your company uses have to be up to date. If your business is running Windows Millennium Edition on desktops that belong in a museum, then a 21-year-old computer genius will have no interest in working with or for you. 

This applies to all your tech, not just the basics. There’s little point in purchasing a suite of brand new desktops and laptops that use outdated and glitchy conference call tech when you could be running the latest version of RingCentral MVP™ or RingCentral Video Pro. 

6. Streamline the recruitment process

In ye olde days, the recruitment process could take many weeks from that first letter to the final interview and job offer. One thing to note about Gen Z is they’re impatient. Growing up in a world where they can access almost anything instantaneously, that impatience extends to their expectations of the hiring process. 

Of course, some of your recruiting may have longer-term targets. You may be identifying individuals you want to recruit post-graduation but trying to sign them up now by offering financial incentives or holiday internships. But overall, you need a faster, more efficient recruitment process. 

That may include outsourcing to a specialist talent acquisition recruitment agency or ensuring your HR department is responsive and gets back to Gen Z candidates quickly. Utilizing tech such as a good MVP (message, video, phone) solution means you can make communications faster and more streamlined. This is something our products can help you with. 

How to recruit & hire remote employees

7. Work from anywhere

Whether you operate a work-from-anywhere policy or use a hybrid system, flexible working is something to consider. Surprisingly, some of Gen Z prefer to work from an office rather than remotely, which means a hybrid model may be most attractive. What’s good for one may not be good for another, so keep your options (and theirs) open.

Of course, working from anywhere brings with it advantages and disadvantages. The former include a better work-life balance and no commuting, which has the added benefit of helping the environment. Disadvantages are difficulty accessing the right tech and keeping sensitive info and data protected, ideally with seven layers of security. This is something we guarantee when you use our communications solutions. 

8. Listen to your recruitment targets

Yes, they’re still young, and yes, they have a lot to learn. Despite those limitations, Gen Z tends to be self-motivated and full of ideas. Even at the recruitment stage, they may make suggestions as to how something could be improved or explain what they, in particular, will bring to their role and your company as a whole. 

Be prepared to listen to them. It will help them see you as a company that values its Gen Z employees and what they have to say. Even if you feel their idea wouldn’t work, discuss it and explain your reasons rather than dismissing it out of hand. If a Gen Zer feels ignored or undervalued, they’re more likely to look at a different employer. 

9. Keep things short and sweet

Selling your company as a good employer has a lot of parallels with selling your brand to customers. Like customers, potential Gen Z employees want information in small, easily digestible chunks. A 40-minute film on the history of your company will soon lose their attention. 

Short, informative videos are perfect for attracting the interest of people you want to recruit. And, just as potential customers like peer reviews of your products and services, having existing staff talk about why they like working for you can make them more interested. 

It’s worth noting that these tech-savvy Gen Zers will research your company and read what people think of you before applying. This means that managing your online reputation is essential. 

10. Present a positive culture

If a recruitment target perceives your company culture negatively, they won’t proceed with the process. This goes beyond any perks and benefits you may offer and extends to company policies, mentorship opportunities, your mission, values, and the basic concept of “do people enjoy working for you?”

83 percent of Gen Z candidates consider diversity and inclusion as important factors when it comes to choosing an employer. A Gen Z candidate tends to think of workplace diversity differently—as being about more than age, gender, race, and so on. 

For them, being part of a diverse generation means a work environment that accepts, respects, and values differing opinions and perspectives. This “cognitive diversity” can be a major factor in avoiding job-hopping. 

11. Promote a healthy work-life balance

More and more employees, especially among millennials and Gen Zers, value the idea of achieving and maintaining a work-life balance. More than 96 percent of younger employees look for flexibility in their employment options. If you don’t offer working from anywhere, you should at least provide flexible working hours. 

Hiring Gen Z workers means you as an employer have to help with that balance. This could be anything from providing an on-site gym that employees can utilize in their lunch hours to breaks, team-building weekends, and opportunities to attend conferences to learn and network. Even online webinars will be attractive to many.

Recruiting and hiring Gen Z: Strike while the iron’s hot

Given they’re such a significant part of the future workforce, it’s a smart idea to start targeting Gen Z in your recruitment efforts. 

Originally published Oct 28, 2021

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