Gen Z graduates are changing the world of work. Here’s how.

gen z generation
The Gen Z generation are digital natives using social media in vastly different ways compared to other generations. Source: Unsplash/Josh Rose

Employers may want to reassess their recruitment strategies to match Gen Z’s social media habits and communication preferences, according to a recent survey by Tallo.

Tallo is an online portfolio where students can display their professional skills, personal interests and career aspirations. The app, which connects students to scholarships and job opportunities, also allows them to message recruiters directly.

In November 2019, Tallo surveyed more than 500 Gen Z app users regarding their views on online branding and preferred recruitment methods.

Fast facts about the survey

  • 87 percent of participants feel it’s important to build a professional brand online.
  • Over half of respondents agree that potential employers should know some personal details about them before reaching out with a job opportunity.
  • Nearly two-thirds believe their personal social media pages accurately represent them as potential employees.
  • Only 23 percent were “very comfortable” with recruiters contacting them on their personal social media pages.
  • Professional networking sites (like LinkedIn and Tallo), online portfolios and Instagram were the top three preferred online platforms for showcasing professional brands.

A generation of ‘digital natives’

As of 2019, Gen Z constitutes nearly a third of the world’s population. 2020 will see Gen Z comprise nearly a quarter of the world’s workforce and 40 percent of its consumers. This generation also has some serious buying power, to the tune of over US$140 billion.

These are just a few reasons why Gen Z is expected to reshape every element of work, from recruitment and training to interacting with colleagues and receiving feedback and support.

Their technology use also plays a key role in this upheaval. Different studies have found this age group spends anywhere from three to six hours per day scrolling through social media apps and video content. As a result, Gen Z’s online identities are multi-faceted and curated for each platform.

“Gen Z, more so than any other generation, is hyper-conscious about what they put online. They grew up in the digital age, and know how easy it is to access all different types of information,” Casey Welch, CEO of Tallo, told Study International.

Striking a balance

Sixty percent of survey respondents agreed that employers should know some personal details about potential employees before reaching out with opportunities. However, the majority of participants weren’t comfortable with recruiters reaching out via personal social media channels like Facebook.

That includes Hezekiah Branch, an undergraduate student at Tufts University who participated in the Tallo survey. Branch is also part of the Platform Engineering team at Prudential Financial.

When asked if employers should connect with talent on their personal social media pages, Branch told Study International, “I am concerned that approaching prospective employees in such a way may come off as intrusive, despite good intentions.”

Branch believes social media is a “personalised platform of expression” that gives users a “sense of ownership and a safe space to be themselves”. He also noted that certain social media sites, like Twitter, skillfully blur the line between the personal and professional:

“Twitter has a slightly different feel and is becoming more popular as a method of showcasing marketable businesses and skills. […] If the conversation is happening on Twitter as a result of a popular brand/skill promo from a user, then the conversation appears to be a more realistic start to engaging with potential candidates.”

Welch agreed that “traditional social media sites like Instagram give [students] an opportunity to showcase their ‘outside of the classroom’ interests. […] A platform like Tallo allows students to strike that balance all in one place: they show off what makes them unique, and communicate one-on-one with recruiters to find the opportunity that’s right for them.”

Going beyond brand awareness

Gen Z is doing their part to build their personal and professional brands online. Employers should take note and use that to their advantage, according to Branch. “There is an infinite amount of untapped data that comes from social media channels when we want to know what graduates today are looking for in companies.”

An overwhelming majority of survey participants – 96 percent, to be precise – believe networking is important even when companies don’t have any job openings. The survey also found that students are more likely to pursue an opportunity that’s a good fit for their skills, even if they’re not familiar with the company.

That’s one reason why, according to Welch, companies should prioritise “micro-targeting their available opportunities to the right set of interested students, rather than casting a wide net and relying on general brand marketing.”

Gen Z generation

The Gen Z generation are masters in building their personal and professional brands online. But are recruiters aware of this? #Careers @AppTallo

This is particularly important for recruiting Gen Z, who do not interact with brands online the same ways as other generations. Gen Z is more likely to discover brands through celebrity endorsements and vlogs and is less likely to comment on a brand’s social media posts. When it comes to their work lives, brand reputation and income are less important to Gen Z than overall wellbeing and work-life balance.

Other Gen Z recruitment strategies

Optimising social media usage is only the first step to recruiting Gen Z. Here are a few other ways companies can appeal to a generation that is rapidly transforming the world of work:

  • Highlight the organisation’s sustainability policies and social contributions
  • Promote opportunities for training, growth, learning and skills development
  • Provide job security, financial literacy and benefits like student loan repayment programmes and healthcare
  • Offer a work environment that fosters creativity, good mental health and physical wellness
  • Cater to Gen Z’s self-sufficiency, independence and ability to multitask

“More and more graduates are looking for jobs that can bring a level of satisfaction and participation beyond just working for the sake of working,” said Branch. Indeed, this aligns with the results of the survey – 97 percent of students said it’s important or very important to find their work personally fulfilling.

To reach this diverse talent pool, employers must meet their needs and speak their language. Welch believes one way to recruit top Gen Z talent is to maintain regular one-on-one communication:

“If companies can connect with potential employees earlier, it will pay off when it comes time for students to make big life decisions, like continuing their education or choosing a job.”

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