Hiring managers are recruiting Gen-Z workers all wrong. Here's how your business can fix your early-career hiring problems.

5 Reasons Why Your Business is Recruiting Gen-Z All Wrong

Dread it, run from it, but the Gen-Z tsunami is coming all the same. They outnumber Millennials and are poised to make up 27% of the workforce by 2025 (and a full ⅓ of the Earth’s population!). We’re all just living in Gen-Z’s world, even if they’re only starting to build their resumes.

This means that your business should already be recruiting Gen-Z employees to not only replace an aging workforce, but to stay relevant in a tech-driven economy that changes by the minute. Your Gen-Z hires will be the ones running your business for the next two decades, which is why it’s so important to understand how to reach and recruit them today.

Unfortunately for hiring managers who seemingly just got used to hiring Millennials, they will have to change their strategies yet again to connect with the most diverse, most socially conscious, and most business-wary generation that we’ve seen. Because at the moment, according to Salesforce (via Insider Intelligence) only 42% of Gen-Z say that they trust companies.

So where is your company going wrong when trying to recruit Gen-Z employees?

1. You’re not being transparent enough about company culture & values

According to the 2021 Candidate Experience Global Research Report, the most valuable “marketing content” a company can have to showcase their business to potential hires was “information on the culture within the company” at a whopping 35% (up 9% from 2020).

Gen-Z, more than any generation before it, does a deep-dive on the companies it wants to work with, with the aim of finding a company that shares their values and expectations of work culture. So the more transparent your business is, the more Gen-Z talent you’ll attract.

Values such as diversity in the workplace, gender equity, commitment to work-life balance, environmentalism, and many others are built into the core of Gen-Z’s identity. And research shows that Gen-Z is 204% more likely to engage with employers if they perceive the hiring process is fair.

Expressing these values across your company website, social media, and especially in your job listings will make for effective recruiting marketing content.

2. You’re not reaching them the way they like being reached

If Millennials were considered a digital generation, Gen-Z might as well be considered as quantum computing. They were born with a smartphone in their hands and a HD video camera in their face. They are supremely comfortable and savvy with technology and speak ‘internet’ as their first language.

Yet your company is still requesting PDF resume uploads (while also making them re-type in their resume into a form – please stop doing that) and using email to set up phone interviews.

But there are better ways to reach and recruit Gen-Z. A 2021 Jobseeker Trends report showed that nearly 80% of those being recruited preferred communicating with the recruiter by text message over email or the phone. Texting is convenient and comfortable for Gen-Z, and your business benefits because studies show that the time-to-fill is shorter when communicating via text along with better response rates in general.

3. You’re not open to remote, contract, gig, flex work

Gone are the days when employees would conform to work: being at an office at a set time, punching in, sitting at an assigned desk, eating at the proper lunch hour, and doing it all over again tomorrow. Actually, that sounds sort of horrible in general.

Today, the very idea of “work” has been changed in our culture due to technology, the economy, and of course the pandemic. Gen-Z has grown up with all of these seismic shifts and now that they are on the cusp of working themselves, they expect much more flexibility in their employment.

Just consider this stat from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: in 2022 “the median tenure of workers ages 55 to 64 (9.8 years) was more than three times that of workers ages 25 to 34 years (2.8 years).” Sure, part of that disparity is that younger employees haven’t been working as long, but another big reason is that Gen-Z (much like how Millennials pioneered) jumps from job to job to job.

If your company is only offering traditional 9-5, W2 jobs; your hiring may struggle with young job seekers. Try offering more flexible positions, such as a 3-month contract gig, to entice more applicants. After all, once they’re in the door, it’s easier to transition contract workers to full-time employees than to hire a new worker from scratch.

And while offering remote work is fairly standard these days, more modern companies are offering flexible work hours and even 4-day work weeks; the latter of which is seeing a surge of interest from young workers.

4. You’re too rigid in your education requirements

Not sure if you’ve been paying attention but young adults have been down on traditional education for a hot minute now. Gen-Z witnessed Millennials saddled with unbearable student loans while struggling to find jobs that were “promised” to them just as long as they got that expensive 4-year degree.

In fact, there has been a historic decline in college students over the past few years, with more than 1 million fewer enrolled. But that doesn’t mean education is stopping. Many Gen-Zers are deciding to eschew traditional universities and opting for coding bootcamps, online learning, 2-year degrees, and certification programs.

Google has their own suite of certificate programs and explicitly says they will consider those who have completed these programs for their own hiring needs, regardless of a college degree.

Do you really need to see a sheepskin in today’s world to hire that Gen-Z employee? Does that degree in Journalism mean they know how to use WordPress, Wix, or a dozen other apps that are crucial for modern careers? Then why are your job listings still requiring a 4-year degree?

And another bonus: you open your business up to more diverse applicants who may not have had the means to attend a 4-year college in the first place.

5. You’re not leveraging the power of internships

Colleges are chronically behind the times due to the pace of technological change in the modern workplace. You’re probably on your fourth project management app at your office (Basecamp, Asana, Trello, Monday… it never ends!) while colleges are still barely teaching Microsoft Office.

If we can be honest with ourselves, colleges simply can’t keep up and teach the real hard (and soft) skills Gen-Z needs to succeed, not just in general, but specifically for your business. You need employees who already know, say, Webflow. And to find those young employees who know a specific piece of software, you should be nurturing them as interns.

Swimming “upstream” in the funnel is the best way for businesses to start molding students into their ideal future employee. This is also highly beneficial for the student as well, being able to get real-world work experience while building up a resume of relevant skills.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the conversion rate for the class of 2020 interns was over 66%! Any hiring manager would love to see those types of  hiring rates. And here at PathMatch, we’ve seen first hand how impactful internships can be both to students as well as businesses looking to hire more diverse, Gen-Z employees.

Do you need help finding Gen-Z interns or grads? PathMatch can help. Click here for a free demo of our talent matching software that will instantly put your company in front of thousands of students and recent grads.