Recruiting Gen Z vs. Millennials: 5 Differences to Learn

The next generation of young talent entering the workforce is Gen Z. Loosely defined as those born after 1998, some members of this post-Millennial generation are graduating from college as soon as this month. And by 2020, they’re predicted to make up 24 percent of the global workforce.

While there are a lot of exciting characteristics of this new generation, Gen Z is quite different from Millennials. We’ve created this list so you can be prepared when this cohort of newly minted talent starts sending in their résumés.

Texting and Chatting

As internet was to Millennials, the smartphone is to Gen Z. Members of Gen Z don’t remember a time before smartphones, and most grew up with one of their own. They are very comfortable with texting and chatting and even prefer these methods of communication over talking on the “regular” phone or sending emails.

Some managers may not like this at first. But as the realities of the working world are thrust upon Gen Z, communication will likely shape up. Remember how you talked as a teen? Do you speak that way now? Thought not. This may only be a problem for the first few years of work, and will iron itself out.

Mobile Technology

This is Gen Z’s strong suit. They are the generation with the most familiarity with mobile and the least baggage from previous technology eras. Companies should embrace Gen Z’s skillful ability to use mobile technology and get insights from them about how to adapt their business practices to the new technological reality.

A tip: If you’re not used to giving technology out as part of an onboarding package, it may put a member of Gen Z off-guard. Most expect that technology will be a part of the package.

More Money

Gen Z is very salary-focused, but not out of a sense of entitlement as some fear. This generation didn’t grow up in the booming 90’s. Rather, they experienced firsthand the realities of the Great Recession. As a result, they want financial security and traditional benefits such as health insurance. Though this may be a welcome change for older managers, it also means that companies will have to give Gen Z workers a strong reason to stay loyal. Yes, you may have to pay them more if you want them to stick around.

This drive for more financial security has also made Gen Z much more independent than Millennials. The levels of entrepreneurship in this generation are much higher than previous ones, as they saw traditional employment promises get destroyed before their eyes and the rise of the gig economy. This may be a point of friction with Millennial managers who often prefer consensus and team-building over independence.

Byproducts of Instant Gratification

Thanks to smartphones, Gen Z is used to a high level of instant gratification; they’re also willing to move very quickly to solve a problem. Inefficient processes that get in the way of what they want will be challenged. They’re also much more willing to try something new in the pursuit of what they want; instead of sitting and pouting, they’ll build their own solution, instead.

Managers will have to explain why their procedures exist so that Gen Z doesn’t try to shortcut the process. On the other hand, you might get a pleasant surprise from someone in this generation thinking up a better workflow that improves efficiency. Just be careful that the thing Gen Z is jumping on isn’t just a passing technology fad.

Self-Educated

Gen Z is also quite comfortable with self-education. These workers aren’t as tied to the traditional college paths. Their reasoning is that all of the information is online and can be found in accessible and understandable formats. If they can learn it on their own, why go through the cost and hassle of degrees and certifications?

That’s a fair question. Companies may have to use alternative metrics to see just how much a Gen Z candidate knows rather than relying on college degrees, and may have to justify hiding information from curious Gen Z’ers who want their answers right now.

All in all, this new generation is going to bring a lot of fresh thinking into the workplace. Millennials who might not like Gen Z’s casualness and overuse of mobile technology may have to teach them ways to compromise with the realities of business. But just like Millennials, we’re sure that companies will quickly find ways to use the unique strengths of Gen Z to reach goals.

Ryan Leary helps create the processes, ideas and innovation that drives RecruitingDaily. He’s RecruitingDaily’s in-house expert for anything related to sourcing, tools or technology. A lead generation and brand buzz building machine, he has built superior funnel systems for some of the industry’s top HR Tech and Recruitment brands. He is a veteran of the online community and a partner at RecruitingDaily.

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