7 Ways to Recruit and Retain Gen Z Employees

Published: 2022-10-19

The babies of Generation Z are growing up quickly. With most of them now hovering between 20-25 years old, they are beginning to shape the labor market and will make up an estimated 25% of the workforce by 2025. 

For many businesses, hiring is more challenging than ever before, and a lot of employers are struggling with lower applicant counts than usual this year. With a limited talent pool, it’s important to actively recruit and retain quality candidates – including the younger generation. 

So what does Gen Z want out of work? 

And what does your company need to attract more of these younger applicants? 

We’re sharing seven of our best tips for attracting and hiring more Gen Z candidates. And since retention is the best recruiting strategy, we’ll also share some insight into how to keep them around. 

Table of Contents

  1. Make sure your job postings are mobile-friendly
  2. Recruit with text messaging
  3. Do virtual interviews
  4. Use social media
  5. Offer the right benefits and perks
  6. Focus on diversity and inclusion
  7. Strengthen your company culture (and share it online)

1. Make sure your job postings are mobile-friendly

Generation Z was born between 1997 and 2012. This means that they were raised around the internet and cell phones. 

It’s no surprise that in order to attract and retain this younger generation, businesses need to get comfortable with tech and make use of it for both hiring and day-to-day business functions. 

During 2021, nearly 70% of job applications were completed on a mobile device. This suggests that it’s not just Gen Z that’s expecting a mobile-friendly recruiting experience. To ensure you are receiving applicants (of every generation) make sure that your application is just as easy to complete on a phone as a computer. 

How would you rate your job application experience?

Not sure whether or not your job applications are ideal for modern job seekers? Check out our free guide on how to assess your application experience.


2. Recruit with text messaging

Since most job seekers are applying from their mobile devices, it makes sense that you should use text recruiting to reach younger applicants first. There’s plenty of research to back up this advice: for example, email has only a 20% open rate – compared to text messages, which have a 98% open rate. The average email gets a response about 6% of the time compared with the average text message, which has a 45% response rate. 

Check out the video below to learn how text recruiting compares to the old-school methods when it comes to winning modern candidates.  

3. Do virtual interviews

Another way to focus on speed and convenience in the recruiting process is to offer virtual job interviews. Not only are video interviews a more convenient option for many people, they can be more efficient and easier to coordinate in terms of scheduling. 

Gen Z is very familiar with video conferencing technology like Zoom and Google Meetings. If given the choice between two employers they may be on the fence about, the odds are the employer who offers the flexibility of a virtual interview could get their attention sooner. 

Gen Z expects both recruitment and workplace operations to be streamlined and efficient. Embracing tech in your hiring process will improve the candidate experience, which will help you get more candidates to yes to your job offers. 

ProTip: We understand that many employers and hiring managers need to meet a candidate in person before offering them a role. And that’s okay! You could consider adding a video interview as the first step in your hiring process, and then invite candidates in person for a follow-up interview. Remember: Just as you’re trying to learn more about them, they’re trying to learn more about you, so make it as easy as possible and engage them early with a quick video call.

4. Use social media

It’s estimated that Gen Z spends around three hours a day on social media sites, and Glassdoor reports that 79 percent of job seekers use social media when conducting their job searches. 

It’s imperative for employers to recruit via social media and maintain a presence online. Just because you might be unfamiliar with a social platform doesn’t mean your ideal candidates aren’t actively using it everyday. Be open to branching out and meeting those candidates where they are. 

Chipotle, the popular restaurant chain, is a great example of this in action. In order to reach more Gen Z applicants, they began recruiting on the popular video sharing app TikTok.

You can also use social media to keep existing employees engaged with one another. Use social media to post good news about your company and highlight your employees. Encourage employees to share those updates with their networks as well. A strong online presence can show Gen Z that you are a fun and modern place to work. 

5. Offer the right benefits and perks 

We all care about workplace benefits and perks, and Gen Z is no exception. 

So which benefits does Gen Z care about? 

Several studies suggest that the most important benefits for Gen Z relate to work/life balance and mental health. Development opportunities are important as well. 

This is right in line with our own research in our Toxic Work Environment Report which found that lack of opportunities for growth was the number one reason employees wanted to leave their job. Those employees also reported that more employee development opportunities and a better work/life balance were the most important changes they’d like to see at work. 

Some ideas for offering the flexibility Gen Z is looking for: Offer more paid time off (PTO). Switch to a four day work week or offer some flexibility within the standard 9-5. If possible, remote working options are a big selling point for younger generations. 

Focus on employee mental health by giving time off for wellness days, providing health insurance that includes mental health benefits, and covering the cost of gym/fitness studio memberships. 

Employee development opportunities will also play a big role in retention. We recommend supporting employee development in the following ways: 

  • Promote from within.
  • Provide ongoing feedback on employee performance. 
  • Pay for educational opportunities like seminars, books, and online classes.
  • Help employees set and reach goals with a Growth Plan. 

6. Focus on diversity and inclusion 

Gen Z is the most ethnically and racially diverse generation in history, and social awareness is a major defining characteristic of this generation. They feel strongly about equality and that carries over into the workplace. 

DEI consultant Agatha Agbanobi shared her expertise on the subject with CareerPlug: “Potential employees want to be able to see themselves at every level of the business both in the present and future. Representation matters especially for those who are not used to seeing themselves reflected in leadership.”

Your DEI efforts as an employer start in the recruitment process and should continue into the day-to-day workplace policies. 

Start with your job description. Remove gender biased language and highlight your company’s values – particularly ones that pertain to equity and inclusion. Lack of pay transparency disproportionately affects women and people of color, so include compensation in your job descriptions. This shows job seekers that you are a transparent company, and can actually speed up your hiring process since applicants can self-select in or out of what you have to offer. 

An outlined and consistent hiring process will make hiring easier. It will also help you ensure that you are giving all candidates a fair chance and equal treatment. 

Agbanobi also recommends diversifying your referral network. This is another win/win strategy since we found that employee referrals are eighteen times as likely to turn into hires than applicants from a job board. 

“Broaden your network to include individuals in your local advocacy groups and organizations who support historically marginalized groups. For example, the Young Women’s Alliance (YWA) is a nonprofit organization that centers on the professional and career advancement of young Black and Brown women in Austin, Texas. Small local businesses in Austin might benefit from partnering with leaders within YWA to identify organization members who might be interested in your open roles. You might also find Diversity & Inclusion groups on social media networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook helpful in narrowing down your search.” 

See more of Agbanobi’s advice in her CareerPlug guide to diversity, equity, and inclusion in a hiring process. 

7. Strengthen your company culture (and share it online)

Many Gen Z employees want to work somewhere where they relate to the culture and feel part of the bigger picture. They want more purpose and connection than just punching a clock everyday. According to one report, 67% of Gen Z feel that it is important to work for a company that shares their values. 

Strengthen your company culture by: 

  • Clearly defining your core values and using them as a guidepost in hiring 
  • Hiring for culture fit 
  • Checking in with current employees constantly through one-on-one meetings and engagement surveys
  • Making employees feel valued 
  • Hosting workplace activities like team-builders, happy hours, and volunteer days 

Make sure your company culture is highlighted online by actively managing your employer brand with employer review sites like Glassdoor and JobSage. Ask existing employees to share their experiences working with you and politely respond to negative comments about your business. 

Recruiting Gen Z and beyond 

No matter how far removed you are from Gen Z, when you think about it, it’s not that hard to understand what they want. Younger job applicants want an employer that genuinely values them and makes them feel appreciated and heard. Being a great place to work – and highlighting that online – will make it easier for you to attract and retain great employees from every generation. 

Reach Gen Z applicants faster with text recruiting.

Text recruiting is just one of CareerPlug’s many features that can help your reach applicants sooner, so you can make the right hires. Click the button below to get a look inside our easy to use software.