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Recruiting Gen Z: The digital native professionals

  • Written by Tom Cornell, the Head of Assessments (APAC) at HireVue

Those born between 1997 and 2012, also known as Generation Z, are already forcing employers to re-examine the recruiting tactics they’ve been relying on for decades. Gen Zers have experienced a much more volatile world than the one in which their predecessors came of age. For older Gen-Zers, early childhood years meant witnessing events such as The Great Recession of 2007, and now those same individuals are attempting to build a career amidst a global pandemic. Their circumstances mean the odds are stacked against them, particularly for graduates entering the workplace in search of entry-level roles which are notoriously competitive. Vacancies for these positions are currently sitting at just 13 per cent.

So how have those experiences shifted their attitudes towards careers? Gen-Zers have very different values, preferences, and priorities than previous generations when looking for a job. Where members of The Greatest Generation look for steadiness, Baby Boomers look for wealth-building opportunities, members of Generation X value work-life balance, and many Millennials look for jobs that provide unique life experiences. Then along comes Gen Z. So, what’s most important to this next wave of job candidates entering the workforce, and how can you compete to attract the best of them?

The new professional portfolio

Not everything you need to know about a prospective employee is on LinkedIn. Many Gen Z job seekers use platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Youtube, and Facebook to showcase their skills and creativity. Being part of the “TikTok generation” has helped graduates cultivate a unique set of skills, providing them with all the tools necessary to conquer remote interviews. Having grown up with Instagram stories and TikTok, these digital natives know how to ace a video interview and provide a creative video cover letter - as they do it on an almost daily basis.

Times have changed since video interviews first caught on. Back then, there was no Snapchat, TikTok, and being a YouTuber was not a well-known career. As a result, candidates weren’t prepared to give excellent professional video interviews, and because of this, users shied away from using such platforms. These days, TikTok has created a generation of amateur entertainers that are far more comfortable presenting themselves on camera than ever before. It feels natural now for candidates to express their personality in a way that resonates with their future employer during the interview process.

Lack of diversity is a deal-breaker 

According to Intel, a lack of diversity will be a workplace deal-breaker for Gen Z. Over a third of Gen-Zers say if given two similar offers, they would undoubtedly choose the company they perceived as more diverse and inclusive. Businesses are listening to Gen Zer’s and are addressing their demands. According to research from HireVue,to achieve their diversity and inclusion goals, 59 per cent of businesses are expanding their recruiting networks by seeking out candidates from non-traditional places and 58 per cent are partnering with organisations that connect underrepresented professionals with internships and jobs. What’s more, 55 per cent of companies are recruiting from universities with diverse student bodies, ensuring a flood of young minds from varied backgrounds are given the opportunity to shape the workforce at the very start of their careers. More than just a box ticking exercise, this display of dedication from the business community shows that organisations are taking action to show younger generations that they mean what they say in their annual DE&I reports. 

Embracing a digital-first mindset

Gen Z is the first generation considered to be “digital natives.” They grew up on social media and blend the digital and physical worlds like never before. In fact, 58 per cent say they have a hard time going four hours or more without internet access. As a result, Gen-Zers now expect more and more advanced uses of technology from the organisations they build relationships with — especially their employers. Successful businesses will need to master the digital experience by implementing tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams and workflow platforms to keep up with an increasingly tech-savvy workforce. Hiring leaders should also prioritise a digital-first model even after the pandemic ends by incorporating HR tech such as games-based assessments to ensure an unbiased hiring process. As we shift to hybrid-remote working on a more permanent basis, virtual hiring will remain crucial to the recruitment process and tech will be critical to the decision making process.

Generation Z is entering the workforce during a global pandemic, which has shaken the way in which everyone works, accelerating our need for digitalisation across multiple industries. As a generation that grew up with a smartphone in their pocket, technology comes naturally to this generation. It is exactly this technology that has set them up for success as they ignite their careers, but to attract and retain this demographic, businesses must keep up with the constant evolution of technology to remain competitive in this digitally native world. 


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