Finding Gen Z Talent in 2020

Photo by Wyron A 

Finding Gen Z Talent in 2020: Three Predictions

TalentCulture asked Kristen Ribero, Director of Enterprise Marketing for Handshake, for three predictions on how we’ll be finding Gen Z talent in 2020. It’s all about democratizing opportunity and building diverse teams; sourcing tech talent beyond STEM; and proactive, personal outreach. Here’s what she had to say:

Prediction 1: We’ll Democratize Opportunity and Build More Diverse Teams 

Employers recruiting early talent traditionally tapped into a few “core” schools that were either selected by proximity or by whether a leader at the company attended that school, which resulted in a pretty homogenous talent pool. 

Instead, we’ll start more effectively democratizing opportunity — by enabling employers to find talent based on numerous attributes that help determine fit, from any school, anywhere. And there’s plenty of information out there. Gen Z’s search for authenticity enables their greater freedom of expression and openness to understanding diverse perspectives. Gen Z grew up on mobile phones, social media, and are true digital natives. While early talent recruiting has shifted digitally, the attributes and values that set candidates apart remain largely the same.

We’ll use targeted talent marketplaces that have the potential to connect candidates with like-minded employers. Not only does this ensure a more seamless cultural fit, it also increases the likelihood of an employee being successful. And we’ll be combining high tech and high touch to do it.

From the talent side, Gen Z values individual identity, and are careful with how they craft their niche personas. They also value diversity, and want to work at organizations that embrace people from all walks of life. By carefully curating their own online presence, Gen Z can secure engagement from relevant employers through these targeted marketplaces. And that enables a better match through targeting for both employers and prospects.

Prediction 2: We’ll See Tech Talent Who Aren’t STEM Majors

Gen Z who haven’t necessarily majored in STEM are increasingly applying for technical roles. Their knowledge of programming languages and other technical skills supplements their coursework — without needing to major in STEM related fields. Of the women who applied for software engineering roles on Handshake, 35% majored in curricula other than STEM, according to Handshake’s Women in Tech report. And in their profiles on the site, it’s clear they have the skills and know how to show them off.

So what we’re seeing is that declaring a major isn’t the only indicator of required skills for a job. Employers are realizing this too, and adjusting their search criteria.

There are other factors here: Research shows that Gen Z  job seekers are more financially motivated than millennials, and the majority of Gen Z employees value salary over other job perks. Technical roles are in high demand, and they tend to be higher paid.

Gen Z is careful to craft a niche identity that’s persuasive and unique enough to set themselves apart. They don’t know a world without technology, which means they are more tech-savvy than previous generations. And they’re leaning in on hard skills as equally as soft ones. Of the 35% of women who applied for software engineering and developer roles I mentioned, their majors include business analytics, communications, marketing, language, and political science.

So employers will get better at looking beyond traditional attributes to find the talent they need. Instead of pinpointing STEM-specific majors, coursework, and GPA, they will lean on a candidate’s hard and soft skills to provide a more accurate assessment of their likelihood to succeed in a role.

Prediction 3: We’ll Take a More Proactive, Personal Approach to Outreach

Proactive employer communication to potential candidates will become a key factor in attracting Gen Z talent. From 2018 to 2019, we observed employers proactively reach out to 4x more students. Employers can tap into this generation’s need for connection by delivering encouraging, personalized messages. In Handshake’s student survey, 95% told us that they engage with employers that send personalized, proactive outreach. While tech has provided more seamless ways for people to connect, Gen Z still prefers to learn from real people. So high tech and high touch are effective complements.

As far as messaging, here are two examples: a message that won’t fly with Gen Z talent, and a message that will. First, the one you don’t want to do:

Hi there,

I’m reaching out to you from [company]. I see that your graduation date is coming up, and I wanted to invite you to check out our job openings on our website. Let me know if you have any questions!

Thanks,

[recruiter’s name]

The message lacks personalized components like a recruiter introduction or student’s name. The student can’t easily decipher how this organization would be a good fit for them. Students are more likely to engage with messages that mention how their background is ideal for a role they’re hiring for. And the CTA is weak: the only indicated action is to check out job openings, but there’s nothing in there about actually applying. That’s a missed opportunity.

Here’s a much better example:

Hi [candidate’s name],

My name’s [recruiter’s name] and I’m a recruiting manager at [company].

We’re currently hiring a sales representative in our [city] office, and based on your background in business at [university] and passion in customer service, I think you should apply!

Don’t take my word for it. One of your [university] peers, [name], now works in this function at [company]. If you’re interested, I’d love to introduce you two so you can learn what it takes to thrive here.

We are also going to be at [university]’s campus next month, so let’s plan to connect in person if that’s easier for you. Please RSVP here.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Warmly,

[recruiter’s name]

What works in this message is the personalization of first name and institution name, along with the fact that an on-campus event is attached to the campaign. The recruiter also suggests an opportunity to introduce the student to one of their peers currently employed by the company. The next step, and a great way to increase the effectiveness of a message like this, is to arrange a scheduled follow up.