The way we’ve consumed media has changed immeasurably in a very short amount of time and the way we respond and interact with that media has also irrevocably changed: from newspapers, billboards, and magazines to websites, social media, and banner ads. For some, the shift to digital supremacy has been jarring, but for others, it’s been as natural as breathing.
We’re talking of course about Generation Z. The generation that grew up in the Internet age of being “always on.”
As Gen Z enters the workforce in growing numbers, they are quickly becoming a powerful force in the world’s marketplace. How they shop, the ways they engage with brands, and how they consume media says a lot about how they uncover new job opportunities.
While they do share some characteristics with their predecessors, their behaviors are in a class all their own.
So how are they different?
Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) is the first generation to have grown up with the Internet. From a very young age, they’ve faced a barrage of digital media, which has inevitably influenced how they interact with each other, brands, really everyone and everything in the digital sphere. They’ve grown up with access to all the world’s knowledge at their fingertips!
Naturally, they’re inclined to use all the resources they have. Gen Z is a generation of researchers. With access to so much information, it is only natural that Gen Z has developed a curiosity around almost everything. Whether it is a new product they want to try or a new job they’re thinking of applying for, you can bet they’ll do their research upfront.
This gives brands a huge incentive to spend time crafting their online presence, to think about how they want to present themselves to potential customers and potential recruits. If I find what I’m looking for on a company’s website, I don’t need to run a Google search for that information.
This gives you tremendous control if you take advantage of it. If you share engaging information that your buyers or candidates want to see, you can reduce the risk of them looking elsewhere.
If that’s not enough of a reason to have a strong online presence, Gen Z is also more likely to follow brand social media accounts than any other generation.
Whereas before a strong social media presence may have been seen as a nice-to-have to attract buyers and job-seekers, now it is an absolute MUST— and if your content is compelling enough they may even share with friends (which is the best way to get the attention and trust of Gen Z.)
That is just one more reason to have engaging, up-to-date content that Gen Z will feel compelled to interact with and share around with their friends and online circle.
What can you do to kick your content over the edge and help it stand out amongst the sea of content they come into contact with every day?
What does this mean for you?
You’ll want to make sure your website and social media channels are the best representation of you and your company. In the past, where you may have been able to rely on a well-written job post featured on a popular job board, that just won’t swing with Gen Z. If you can make your content feel more like an experience over something that feels transactional, you’ll see the return.
For instance, instead of sharing a social media text post about what it is like to work at your company, imagine if you took social media goers on a tour through your office! You’ve now given them an experience instead of something they’ll forget by the next day.
Just like consumers, job-seekers now have a wealth of choices. Shoppers rarely settle for the first car they find in their budget, and a job-seeker doesn’t need to go with the first position that is offered to them.
Gen Z is one of the leading forces behind the Great Resignation, a phenomenon so named because over 33 million Americans have quit their jobs since Spring 2021. While some have left the job force with no intention of returning, the majority have left the job force with their sights set on re-entering in a better position.
As a near-Gen Zer myself, the pandemic put a lot of things into perspective. It caused me to reconsider what I had been doing, what I wanted to do, and how I wanted to build my life outside the office. When I decided to look for a new position, I had a few items on my must-have list.
Purpose, flexibility, and room for growth were all deeply important to me.
While I didn’t necessarily need to save the world, I did want to make sure the work I was doing felt meaningful or important to me. I wanted to make sure that I woke up every morning with at least some interest and excitement over the work I would be doing. I didn’t want to work somewhere that I fundamentally disagreed with. Waking up dreading your day takes a lot out of you! You’ll find that Gen Z largely feels the same.
I looked at company websites to see if they shared their purpose on their website or in their recruiting materials. And when I didn’t see companies sharing what they stood for, what they were passionate about, you can bet I didn’t apply.
Flexibility and Balance:
Looking to change jobs during COVID-19 highlighted the importance of a job that would allow me to prioritize my health and well-being. I wanted to join a company that afforded employee wellbeing the right amount of importance. Somewhere I wouldn’t feel guilted into working long after my shift had ended or working when I was unwell.
In addition, like a lot of Generation Z, I took multiple jobs so that I could be financially independent, but working seven days a week soon began to take its toll. I knew I wanted my next position to allow me time away so I could return to work refreshed, renewed and ready to work!
I looked for companies that shared employee perspectives in their talent acquisition materials. When I saw and heard employees speaking about how their company treated them, I trusted them.
You should make sure your recruiting efforts not only inform potential candidates about the logistics of the role but show them what it's like to work at your company, what your company cares about, and how your company makes a difference.
Room for Growth:
Maybe contrary to popular belief, Gen Z is in search of stability in their jobs (perhaps to combat the unstable/ unpredictable world around them.) When I was looking for a new position I wanted to find a company I could grow into! Looking for jobs can be a long and demoralizing process, and I wasn’t eager to embark on it again too soon.
I looked for companies that could demonstrate that they’d allowed their current employees to blossom (and it wasn’t always easy to find). Make it easy for job-seekers to cross this one off their list.
Consumers and job candidates have more choice than ever in a world now driven by social media. And like brands trying to build a new generation of consumers your company must be ready when they start researching who and what you are about. But don’t just copy what you see others doing. It’s not enough to rise to the level of what everyone else is doing, the time has come to start thinking outside the box, looking into new ways to create, share and engage.
A company’s employer brand is simply the perception people outside of a company have about what it’s like to work there – whether it’s accurate or not!