Remember when we were all trying to reach the hiring bar set by Amazon, Google, Facebook and other giants? No more. Toxic work cultures, questionable leadership and recent ethics scandals are tarnishing these once golden employers. The New York Times just reported that Gen Z are staying away.
The techlash is real: by some estimates, Facebook’s down at least 40% in acceptance rates for full-time engineering job offers. Amazon’s losing its sway with poachable young stars from companies like Dropbox. Uber’s taken a $100 million hit in terms of lost talent. Google’s lost its credibility as a fair employer. When graduates tell their peers they just accepted a job at one of the big tech firms, they’re often met with awkward silence.
As Gen Z and new millennials graduate college and search for jobs, they’re looking for meaning, purpose, and values along with that good paycheck — and they’re steering clear of Silicon Valley’s big firms. And this isn’t just about a consumer attitude towards employer brands. It goes deeper. Many are responding to recruiting outreaches with messages of their own, leaving recruiters blindsided. Some students are batting back automated recruiting queries with very specific protest messages.
The spend on recruiting one engineer can be as high as $20,000, according to the Times; the cost of advertising at Stanford University’s computer science job fairs can top $12,000. Whether or not this truly hurts the bottom line remains to be seen in some cases, while it’s already obvious in others.
But what is clear: smaller firms who do have an ethical compass and fair hiring and employment policies may have a new advantage. An employer brand that’s based on genuine values, a social purpose, and wants to save the planet instead of ruin it – that’s a big factor for this generation. We may start to see companies selling themselves as inherently good: “We don’t have any scandals, we’re not associated with data theft, and we believe in climate change!” could be a highly effective selling point. It’s going to be an interesting year.