Gen Z Characteristics – What They Really Look Like

by Tom Borgerding

There’s been a lot of talk regarding what Generation Z looks like. In the research we’ve done, speakers we’ve heard, and articles we’ve read, here’s a recap of the most consistent characteristics to be thinking about when recruiting and marketing to Gen Z.

  1. They are Entrepreneurial. They want to have an impact, not just a job. Show them how they can be entrepreneurial in your organization and the impact others have been able to make by following a similar path. They are looking for guidance and a way to make the world a better place.
  2. They are Technology Dependent. Let them get check in with your recruiters, know where they are really at in the application funnel, watch videos on what it’s like to work at your company, and follow you on social media. Also, make it available through their smartphones.
  3. They are Culturally Diverse. The United States is becoming more diverse each year. Gen Z expects the way their friends, family, co-workers, and the world in general to be diverse. This means that your hiring should not consistent of people that look only like you. Highlight and integrate diversity into your website, brochures, presentations, and recruitment staff.
  4. They are Cynical. Overly pushy, offensive, insensitivity in marketing, advertising, slogans, messages, stories, etc. have made them more skeptical and cynical of what they hear and see. Make sure your company is “real,” relatable, and not only showing the good side of working at your company. Additionally, you could expand into “what it’s like to be adulting” at your company.
  5. They are Hyper-Aware. They can “smell” anything that isn’t real and true a mile away. They are sensitive to all the messaging going on around them and if it seems like it could be advertising something that’s too good to be true, they likely won’t respond. An opportunity here is to be very consistent and clear with your brand messaging. Also, get to the point in your branding/recruiting efforts.
  6. They are Private. They expect employers to be completely transparent about all things business, which is why they like websites like Glassdoor.com. At the same time they want to keep their lives private, even from their parents in many cases, by using apps like Snapchat that allow their stories to disappear. They’ve seen and heard too many stories about how a pictures, posts, or conversations have ruined someone.
  7. They are Safety Minded. When was the last time you saw someone in college or below riding a bike without a helmet or in a car without a safety belt? This has engrained them to know this world has risks attached to it. As an employer, it is important to be thinking about how the risk of working at your company can be minimized to help them success and transition into the “real” world well.
  8. They are Multitaskers. They watch Netflix, study, hang out with friends, and text at the same time while thinking it’s natural to do so. They will want to have plenty of work, while being able to immediately communicate with their boss, team, CEO, etc., and expect immediacy for replies and conversations.

What do you do with with this information now? Integrate these eight characteristics into your brand strategy and highlight relevant company characteristics. Make sure what you are saying is true. Highlight, talk about, and engage students in conversations regarding these topics. They want to see that your company will provide them a place for them to excel and that your company isn’t their grandfather or parent’s job.

If you have more questions about these characteristics, please feel free to reach out to me. I’d be happy to discuss them with you.

This is the first of five blogs Tom Borgerding has written about marketing and hiring. The next, How to Develop Personas to Better Your Employer Brand/Marketing Efforts, will be published Thursday, August 3.

Tom BorgerdingTom Borgerding, President/CEO, Campus Media Group, Inc.
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/borgerding
Twitter: @mytasca, @Campus_Media

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