The media tell us that it’s harder than ever for young people in the UK to get a job. But when it comes to hiring the cream of the crop graduates or persuading the brightest school leavers to consider an apprenticeship instead of higher education, competition for talent has never been so fierce.
Six ways to convince Gen Z to work for you
Six ways to convince Gen Z to work for you
This guidance is informed by MSL’s research with over 1,500 young people and lessons learnt delivering recruitment marketing for organisations such as EY, GSK, ABInBev and Lloyds Banking Group.
Who are Gen Z?
Generation Z (Gen Z) were born between 1995 and 2010. They are mobile and digital natives – mobile technology, high speed internet and video streaming has been in their hands since birth. Gen Z grew up during the fallout of the 2008 financial crisis. Research suggests that this has made them more mature, less self-entitled and better grounded than their Millennial predecessors. They know they need to create opportunities for themselves. They’re entrepreneurial and more likely to want to start their own business or go straight into work via an apprenticeship.
Marketing and communication tips to hire Gen Z candidates
1. Become a careers advisor
The most popular content we’ve created for this audience offers students valuable advice and guidance, rather than selling a particular role or employer. With student debt increasing and the changing apprenticeship landscape ever-changing, making the right career decision is more pressurised and complex for young people today than ever before. Students keep telling us that they really need our help to make the right decisions, because the right advice is hard to come by. Ofsted data shows that three-quarters of schools fail to provide adequate careers guidance. Parents give well-meaning support but their advice is often out-of-date and influenced by their own experiences.
- See our EY Parental Advice case study here to help parents become better careers advisors to their children
- See some of our EY Careers advice content on their careers site.
2. Ditch the jargon
One of the top things that Gen Z tell us is to stop using jargon. Our user testing shows that words that businesses use liberally can mean very different things to them (particularly school leavers). Diversity, ambition, career, culture, values, purpose – explain in plain English what your organisation means by these terms, or remove them from your vocabulary.
3. Provide them with access to people like them
When we ask, ‘How can employers be more helpful?’ Gen Z’s top answer is “Give us access to people like us who can tell us what it’s really like.” Contrary to what you may think for this technology-loving generation, face mode of communication. As that’s not always realistic, direct interaction through social channels or online tools like is the next best thing. Put your best people in front of students – not just the people who are enthusiastic and available.
You can’t be on every campus and at every school, so create high-quality value-adding events and work hard to maximize the reach and engagement you achieve with your investment through social channels. We’ve used a mixture of Facebook Live, Q&As, real-time reporting and newsroom social content to create a wider impact.
4. Evolve the conversation beyond jobs
Traditional career paths are on the decline: many Gen Z role models have succeeded outside traditional corporate structures. 57 percent of 18-to-25-year-olds surveyed by EY said they want to start their own business. So you need to talk about the skills, qualifications and experiences you can give them and how you can set them up for future success – within and beyond your organisation.
School leavers tell us that we dive in too early to talk about specific roles and jobs; often they’re not ready to make that decision yet. They need more insight about the world of business and want to understand what skills they will develop. Decision tools that align interests with opportunities can help them to find their way, like this quiz to match career paths to personality we created for GSK.
5. Social content needs to really move
According to Facebook, the average social media users scrolls through 300 feet of content every day. How do we grab their attention? Our analytics show that moving image formats (videos and GIFs) garner more attention, as do moving stories. Show authentic and enlightening experiences of employees most like them in formats and language similar to what they are sharing themselves. Ditch glossy stock imagery of models in suits in favour of natural photos of your talent.
Recent changes by social platforms like Facebook mean we can no longer assume that ‘if we build it they will come’. Social is now a pay-to-play channel. To get a sizeable audience, you need to invest in paid amplification. Consider a ‘fewer, bigger, better’ approach, creating a smaller number of well-considered pieces of content rather than a factory line of social posts that may be published but barely seen.
6. Hire for skills, not academic achievements
Gen Z are pragmatic and motivated, but they can also suffer from a lack of confidence about the future. A McKinsey survey showed that less than one third feel ready for work at the end of their education. Many are cynical about the application and selection processes of big employers, believing that upbringing and contacts still play a role in securing positions in ‘high-status’ institutions, which can deter applications.
Employers need to explain their selection processes more clearly with guidance and support on how to apply successfully, to help a more diverse group of students feel more informed and confident about their chances. Organisations also need to explain how they are hiring for skills – not just judging candidates on academic merit. Many don’t realise that they already have incredibly valuable skills that employers are seeking, like virtual collaboration. US National Centre of Biotechnology research shows that Gen Z are ‘wired’ to process more information at faster speeds.
To make the most of the potential of Gen Z, you need to give them the confidence to make decisions about their future, then show them how they can grow their skills and success in your organisation – and way beyond it. Be their mentor and adviser on the journey, then you may find amazing talent you never expected beating a path to your office door.
MSL’s employee team has been pioneering new ways to attract talent to leading organisations for the last 20 years. To find out more about how we can help you super charge your recruitment, contact Claire Hutchings.