Where Gen. Z Wants to Work, What They Expect, and What It All Means for Recruiters

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As more and more Americans receive vaccinations and businesses begin reopening to full capacity, the nation faces a labor shortage. With increasing competition for workers, employers will have to be more strategic than ever to attract the best talent.

It’s critical that employers don’t overlook one particular group of talent: Generation Z. Many Gen. Z-ers — those born after 1996 — are graduating and getting ready to enter the workforce full-time. Gen. Z employees may be young, but they are also the most diverse generation and came of age as digital natives. How can employers equip themselves to attract and retain this unique generation of workers?

Recent research we conducted at Tallo can provide some insights into where Gen. Z wants to work and what they’re expecting from their future employers.

Top Companies Gen. Z Wants to Work For

After surveying more than 29,000 Gen. Z-ers, we found that Google, Apple, and Netflix are the top three companies they want to work for. If we break Gen. Z’s preferences down by gender, we see that women prefer Netflix, Disney, and Apple, while men prefer Google, Apple, and Amazon. While tech companies are generally popular with Gen. Z-ers, Apple is the only company that appears in the top three across all lists.

Entertainment is Gen. Z’s most prized industry, with 78 percent of the Gen. Z-ers we surveyed naming arts, entertainment, and recreation as an industry they’d like to work for. Seventy-seven percent named technology, and 60 percent selected hospitality, tourism, and the restaurant industry.

Obviously, not every company can model itself after the Googles, Apples, and Netflixes of the world. So what can employers do to attract the attention of Gen. Z talent when they don’t have the name recognition or budget of these behemoths? You can start by paying attention to what Gen. Z values in the workplace.

How to Attract Gen. Z When You’re Not Google

Many Gen. Z employees will be entering the workforce for the first time following the pandemic. As digital natives who grew up immersed in technology, one might assume they’d prefer an entirely remote work environment. In truth, the majority of Gen. Z-ers (63 percent) we surveyed prefer a hybrid work environment where they have opportunities to work both remotely and in an office environment. While ping-pong tables, massive cafeterias, and nap pods may not be as exciting for young talent as they once were, employers should keep in mind that Gen. Z-ers are looking for physical office spaces where they can meet with their coworkers in person.

Aside from hybrid work arrangements, the top three factors motivating Gen. Z-ers to accept a job are salary, interest in the work, and work/life balance. Working with an ethical boss and finding fulfillment in their job are also important to this cohort. In fact, 69 percent of the Gen. Z-ers we surveyed said it has become more important to them in the past year to find a job that is personally fulfilling. In a past survey, 87 percent of Gen. Z respondents reported they’d choose a meaningful career over high earnings.

And once members of Gen. Z find a job they feel connected to, they’re inclined to stay longer than you may expect: 51 percent are planning to stay at their first full-time job for at least three years.

When recruiting and retaining Gen. Z talent, companies would also be wise to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. This generation takes DEI very seriously; they have high expectations for their future employers, and they’re not afraid to make those expectations known. For example, 88 percent of Gen. Z-ers agree that it’s important for recruiters and potential employers to ask people about their pronouns, but only 18 percent have ever been asked by a recruiter. What’s more, 25 percent would decline a job offer if a recruiter failed to use their correct gender pronouns. Once Gen. Z is in the workplace, the top three DEI initiatives they’re looking for are women in leadership, trainings and discussions, and people of color in leadership.

While some aspects of the American economy are returning to normal, many changes from the past year are here to stay. One thing that will never change is the importance of getting opportunities in front of the right talent. Gen. Z is preparing to take the workforce by storm, and employers can’t make the mistake of treating them as an extension of the millennial generation. Recognizing Gen. Z’s uniqueness will help recruiters make their opportunities stand out from the crowd.

Casey Welch is the cofounder and CEO of Tallo.

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Casey Welch is the cofounder and CEO of Tallo, a digital platform and app connecting 1,300,000+ students and professionals to opportunities offered by colleges, companies, and organizations. Since its inception, Tallo has pioneered early talent engagement, facilitating career discovery and guidance for a diverse talent pool. Under Casey's leadership, Tallo serves as a virtual ecosystem leveling the playing field for all students and job seekers, regardless of traditional geographic and economic barriers. Casey is a leading expert on Generation Z in higher education and the workforce, and his insights have been featured in Forbes, FastCompany, ZDNet, and SHRM.