Reimagining relationships with Gen Z: the future of recruitment

October 27, 2022

Generation Z has grown up and studied through unprecedented times. Their university years were heavily disrupted by COVID lockdowns, and recent political and economic turbulence have meant that Gen Z has had to socialise, live and study in a world very different to that of even their Millennial counterparts. These experiences have undoubtedly shaped their ambitions and priorities - particularly in terms of what they want out of the world of work.

In a recent webinar, Emily Knuckey and Kyle Calder from Handshake spoke to Aidan O’Connor and Sara Osman from Johnson & Johnson about how the organisation’s recruitment strategy has shifted over the past few years, how the team anticipates it to change over the next 12 months and the expectations of the Gen Z cohort as they enter the workplace.  

One of the main talking points was how digital utilisation has become a key component for Johnson & Johnson. 

Appealing to a generation of digital natives

Gen Z has grown up in a world surrounded by technology and has become accustomed to learning, socialising and enjoying personal downtime online.

With lockdowns removing face to face social contact, they have had to create, foster and maintain working relationships online too – and it’s no surprise that this has had an impact on the way that Gen Z looks for and applies for work. 

Statistics from CareerArc and The Harris Poll state that nearly half (48%) of Gen Z and Millennials have applied to jobs they found on social media. Furthermore, statistics from our Handshake Network Trends report reveal that nearly 7 in 10 Gen Z candidates believe meeting in-person is now completely unnecessary in order to form a professional connection. 

In this golden age of digital utilisation and recruitment, Handshake is already fostering online engagement and providing Gen Z with the resources needed to create and maintain professional connections.

The workplace priorities of Gen Z

The session then moved on to talk about recruitment in a wider sense and how organisations are laser focused on staff recruitment and retention.

And when it comes to attracting Gen Z, sustainability is top of the agenda. Gen Z candidates say a company’s corporate, social responsibility and diversity are major factors when picking a workplace. As the ‘Greta Thunberg’ generation, this cohort want and expect the companies they work for to have established cultural and environmental values. 

Fundamentally, Gen Z cares about having an affiliation to the company they’re applying for. They want mentorship, personal connection and to build a connection with like-minded people. Furthermore, they are looking to be challenged in the workplace and believe that they have the right skills and potential to take on these challenges. Salary also matters to Gen Z (in the midst of a cost of living crisis and rising inflation levels) and Gen Z are expecting to be paid more for graduate level positions than their Millennial counterparts.

Forging meaningful relationships

So, Generation Z are entering the workforce with demands and ideas of their own, which don’t follow the expectations of their predecessors.

Organisations are having to grapple with not only how to ensure they are promoting these values to internal staff and external stakeholders, but also how they can attract workers at a time when the competition for top talent is greater than ever. It understandably requires time, effort and money on the side of the company to recruit and train new employees and so they want to ensure that those they do hire are the right fit for the job.

In order to do this though, employers must ensure that their first impressions count and they are effectively communicating the job requirements, skills needed and their goals to potential employees. During the webinar Johnson & Johnson focussed on how employers who want graduates to join their organisation must demonstrate that their company has and shares the same values as the Gen Z graduate does.

Handshake provides an ideal environment for employers to promote the benefits of working for them to potential candidates – and communicate that they share the priorities and goals of Gen Z. This allows employers to draw attention to the actions they are taking to tackle a broader set of societal challenges such as sustainability, climate change, and hunger

Similarly, at a time when 27% of students report that the biggest obstacle to their future careers is not knowing what field to go into, Handshake allows students to navigate and better understand the type of job that would suit their needs and skills. In the meantime, Handshake employers can proactively outreach to individuals who meet the criteria they are interested in. This means that organisations are also educating students about the types of careers they are suited to – and perhaps even makes them aware of careers they didn’t know existed.

A bright future ahead

As we approach 2023, the workplace continues to change. In the webinar, Johnson & Johnson commented on how in an increasingly digital world, the types of work and roles available are ever changing and organisations are now on the lookout for top talent in data and digital science. Recruitment strategies are also changing, with graduate employers adopting a much more year-round approach, with 45% now opting for a continuous-recruitment strategy.

You can now catch up on the webinar recording!

To learn more about how Handshake is supporting employers and graduates in an ever-evolving, digitalised era of recruitment, get in touch.