Over the past few years, the CPA firm I helped launch has grown significantly thanks to the incredible workforce we employ. We partner with small businesses to behemoths and likewise our team covers a wide swath of the age spectrum, younger to older, the fastest growing of which is from Gen Z.
Like all generations, Gen Z—people born between the late 1990s and the early 2010s—has its own unique characteristics. At our firm, they now make up roughly 25 percent of our staff. As we continue to grow and become even more reliant on this age demographic, we know we’ve got to provide a work world that aligns with their needs and preferences. Chances are strong that you will too.
From campus visits to onboarding, we’ve built a recruiting program tailored to Gen Z, and below I’ll discuss the six pillars we focus our efforts on. Throughout our hiring process, we key in on these elements routinely, as they continually resonate with top-tier recruits. Hopefully after reading this, you’ll be in a better position to hire and retain workers from this generation.
- Technology: Gen Z is comprised mainly of “digital natives”—people who’ve had technology in the palms of their hands since being toddlers. If a potential employer seems like they’re stuck in the digital stone age, many young recruits won’t even give them the time of day. Poor recruiting technology (badly designed jobs or careers pages, cumbersome online applications, dated onboarding processes, etc.) are a big turnoff. They expect the tools they use at work to be just as easy as the consumer tools they grew up with.
- Location: Younger employees want to live in a thriving city that has plenty to do with a lower cost of living. If your business isn’t anchored in a place that interests them, they’ll likely ask to work remotely from a more desirable locale. Most Gen Zers don’t see a huge difference between remote work and in-office work, considering they’ve been accustomed to maintaining and building relationships through digital mediums their entire lives, and many have been doing remote schooling for several years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Authenticity: Gen Z doesn’t seem to care for the aesthetic trappings and unnecessary formalities of the past. They want to be able to be themselves at work and they expect that others will do the same. As an accounting firm, we’ve had success with recruiting when candidates realize that we aren’t a “suit and tie” -type of firm and that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. They want to build relationships with their recruiters and have honest conversations with the team they’re considering working with.
- A well-thought-out onboarding process (as well as continuing education after): Gen Z recruits want to feel confident that you’re going to train them adequately for the job that’s expected of them. They also want to be continually learning, and many are interested in perks such as supporting them in getting professional certifications and graduate degrees after they start working for you.
- Responsible and fair employers: Gen Z candidates are more interested in your company’s broader impact. They’re not attracted to 9-to-5 jobs that are only designed to earn a paycheck. They want assurance that your company cares about initiatives outside of the bottom line.
- A clear career path: These budding professionals seek clearly defined pathways to achieve higher career standing at a quicker rate than previous generations. They live in a social media- and technology-driven world without memories of having to wait for much of anything. They don’t demand the pedestal up front, but we do have frequent conversations about timelines and pathways, so they’re looking ahead from the beginning. Our ability to show them how we can ignite a career is often more valuable in the recruiting process than how we can get them started.
In short, Gen Z has a great deal of talent to offer, and just like generations before them, professionals in this age bracket will one day be the leading experts in their fields. Taking the time to understand their desires and invest in their professional development is an investment in all our futures.