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IT Hiring: How to Appeal to GenZ Talent

Here’s what HR executives, IT leaders, and recruiters should be considering when discussing challenges and opportunities in attracting and retaining GenZ.

The past few years gave recruiters and human resource departments across the globe a variety of new challenges when it comes to hiring practices. Now, on the heels of ‘The Great Resignation,’ companies are reevaluating employee benefit packages, how they are targeting a potential workforce, and even reinventing hiring all together.

Generation Z (GenZ) includes anyone born between 1997 and 2012, which means the oldest of them entered the professional workforce during some of the most tumultuous times in recent history. While this impacted hiring expectations on both sides, we must also acknowledge that before the pandemic this generation was one of the first to be immersed in technology at an unprecedented level. According to a 2020 report by Knoema, GenZ is the largest generation in the US, at nearly 4 million strong. It’s important that HR executives, IT leaders, and recruiters across all industries develop strong relationships with this sector of the workforce, as they stand to make up the majority in a few years’ time.

When developing an approach to hiring GenZ, both the COVID-19 pandemic and the technological savviness of this generation must be considered when discussing challenges and opportunities to hiring them into workforce.

Not Your Parent’s Benefits Package
If you had asked a recruiter 10 years ago what they felt was the main driver for applicants they might have said compensation and career growth. However, in recent years, there has been a tangible shift in what the workforce expects out of an employer. GenZ, above all else, is looking for purpose and is less likely to be attracted to traditional benefits. According to a study by Gallup, GenZ and millennial employees alike seek out employers who prioritize fostering ethical workplace cultures and employee wellbeing.

The most obvious, and most requested benefit is the ability to work from home. We see this as the first question many applicants ask in interviews. Of course, depending on the industry and geographic location of individual companies, company policies differ on remote work. In many cases, if you can’t accommodate remote work, it will make an applicant less likely to consider employment with your company. While compensation packages aren’t as important to GenZ, it doesn’t mean they don’t care about it at all. What we’re seeing is the younger generations prefer higher compensation over benefit packages that include perks like gym memberships, discounts and even healthcare. In the US specifically, many under the age of 26 are still on a parent or guardian’s health insurance, so as they age and grow their own families, traditional benefits and a desire for long-term financial security will increase in importance. For now, GenZ employees seek out exciting jobs and opportunities that offer competitive programs for prizes and recognition programs.

Death of the Cover Letter
While the majority of today’s workforce has likely been required to complete a full application, collect references, and write a cover letter, hiring today has become far more streamlined to accommodate more technologically competent applicants. However, GenZ is less likely to spend an hour or more filling out a job application or write individual cover letters. As such, many companies have been transitioning to mobile and one-click applications. There is also an expectation to receive a response from a company within 24 hours, with as much information as the prospective employer can provide them.

During this initial outreach process, though it moves quickly, we do find that GenZ applicants like to build a real relationship with a company before they accept a job -- requiring more touchpoints from a perspective employer along the way. While an adjustment, this new hiring strategy does allow companies to skip several steps and learn one-on-one through various calls and interactions about the applicant, versus reading through pages of an application and a templated cover letter.

Rebirth of a New Workplace Culture
Many are of the belief that remote work has eradicated a strong sense of workplace culture, but that isn’t the case with GenZ. A strong workplace culture is more important than ever, and companies are tasked with being creative in how they foster one. Businesses and organizations are finding they must focus on creating the right team, and a way to share an identifiable sense of culture. Many are still figuring this out, but building a relationship between coworkers drives camaraderie, develops a sense of teamwork, and fosters the sense of belonging.

While it’s easy to long for the days of “easier” hiring practices, it’s vital that companies across all industries consider industry best practices for attracting and retaining a GenZ workforce. It will be vital to ensuring the longevity of many companies -- especially in the face of ongoing labor and hiring challenges. This generation requires a different approach from past workforces, but once you gain their trust and support, it’s tough to find a more passionate or engaged workforce. You may long for the days of a less technological hiring process and having too many qualified candidates to choose from, but in today’s recruitment world, you’re going to have to meet them where they are -- which is wherever it’s easiest to apply.