How to recruit Gen Z-ers


We’ve all heard the stereotypes about each generation: Boomers are tech inept, Gen X-ers are cynical, Millennials are entitled and Gen Z-ers are job hoppers addicted to technology.

But is any of that true? Specifically, I wanted to know more about Gen Z and their career motivations since they are expected to make up 30% of the workforce by 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Individuals born between 1997 and 2012 are in Gen Z, according to a recent study by Insider Intelligence.

As a Gen X-er myself, I don’t like getting job-related texts as it seems a bit like infringing on my personal life. But apparently, Gen Z-ers (and Millennials) prefer it. According to a LinkedIn survey, 86% of Gen Z and Millennials like SMS texts as part of the interview process.

I was going to do a bunch of online research to figure out if the Gen Z stereotypes hold water. But then I thought, what better way than to ask some of our own Gen Z professionals?

To move beyond the stereotypes and get to the best ways to recruit them, I sat down with a few of them last week. I appreciated how candid they were about what they do and don’t like about hearing from recruiters, what motivates them to apply with certain companies and what turns them off as a candidate. Here are some of the insights I gleaned from our conversation.

Skip the phone calls

Our Gen Z-ers overwhelmingly said, “don’t call me” about that initial recruiter outreach. So, out with the cold calls and in with the digital reach-outs. They said texting, LinkedIn InMail, or even Indeed will generate a much higher response rate than an initial phone call. “There are so many spam calls, that if a call comes through from a number I don’t recognize, I never answer it,” said Julia Nelligan, Creative Recruiter.

This preference also stems from not being available to speak to a recruiter at the exact moment they call. Sending a text message instead of making a phone call gives candidates the freedom to respond on their own time.

 Digital communication, like texting, is the norm for Gen Z, but that doesn’t include emails. Too often, emails get lost in the thousands of unread emails or even flagged. “I don’t check my [personal] email. My Gmail is out of storage,” said Katie McCombs, Associate Recruiter.

So, looks like the preferred method is texting.

From their perspective as a recruiter, they said the response rate from texting candidates has been good. “A lot of people respond to my texts. People won’t answer the phone, but if I send them a text, it takes them two seconds to respond,” said Katie.

In fact, according to LinkedIn, 67% of potential candidates respond within minutes to SMS text messages.

Get social

It’s no secret that the latest generation is tech-savvy. Recent studies by LinkedIn report 96% of Gen-Zers own a smartphone and spend approximately 10.5 hours a day on it. And 4.5 hours of that is on social media, says the National Retail Federation.

For the job search, two platforms are the most popular: LinkedIn and As of this year, LinkedIn serves 774 million members in more than 200 countries. And had more than 250 million unique visitors each month during 2020.

Zoe Gage, Creative Recruiter said, “My go-to preference would be to be reached out to via LinkedIn. Just to kind of keep all professional things in one area.”

She added, “I think people also like having the name to face component that LinkedIn offers.”

Although is more of a job board than a professional networking platform, it acts as one because recruiters can message candidates as they do on LinkedIn through the Indeed Employer Dashboard.

From a recruiter’s perspective, Julia said, “I like Indeed because you know that if they’re [candidates] on there, they’re actively looking right now.”

But stay away from the other social networks for job purposes. Katie said, “I would not want people messaging me on Facebook or Instagram. That’d just be uncomfortable.”

Check your content

It’s safe to say Gen-Zers don’t like fluff. Out with the clichés and in with the information. Making your communications to candidates short, professional and to-the-point is a step in the right direction.

“People want to glance over it, have all the key information – location, duration, overall responsibilities – but don’t want too much fluff,” said Zoe. She added, “I’ve reached out to the same candidate multiple times on LinkedIn. First with the long outreach and gotten nothing. But then I sent her less than a paragraph, and she responded.”

Culture first

The content of the job post is great, but that’s not what Gen-Z finds the most appealing. Their focus is now on positive and open company culture.

Haley Martin, Associate Recruiter said, “The work culture is more of what I’d be looking for.” Katie added, “And work-life balance and remote options.”

“Throwing in those extra perks and benefits, you would stand out,” said Zoe.

As one of the most diverse generations yet, Gen-Zers are more reluctant to hop on the first job they find. They want to feel valued, that their work matters, and that they aren’t getting the short end of the stick. You’re getting the picture here; they thrive off company culture.

And the type of culture matters, too. When asked what they look for, Katie said, “I want to work with people I could see myself being friends with outside of work.”

Julia agreed with Katie and added, “But then that’s tricky because it’s kind of taken away because of being fully remote.”

Training is also important to Gen Z. “That’s part of why I took the job at Synergis is because a lot of the other companies I was looking at didn’t have good sales training. You were just expected to jump in. So, I think training and mentorship are important,” said Katie.

In summary

With more than 61 million Gen Z-ers entering the workforce and quickly dominating it, they have made us change the way we do things. And, I think, for the better.

Gen Z has high expectations, they know what they want and aren’t afraid to ask for it. If employers want to hire and retain this talent, they’re going to have to rise to the occasion. Develop a good first impression with Gen Z by engaging them in the manner they want (such as how you communicate with them). And keep that in mind when developing your hiring strategy.

While texting candidates is a cool new way to reach them, it’s not perfect and leaves anywhere from 25% to 30% of the possible candidates out of the loop, per LinkedIn data. To cover your bases, don’t stop doing traditional things like posting to job boards, social recruiting, emailing, asking for referrals, etc.

What works with the Baby Boomer and Gen X generations doesn’t necessarily work with Gen Z. But the opposite is also true. If you’re going to use these non-traditional methods, just make sure you know your audience.

Want help reaching the Gen Z talent? Contact us and we can help guide your strategy and even do the reach out for you!


About the author

Brooke Hathaway serves as Marketing Manager for Synergis and has 17+ years of experience in marketing. In this role, she is responsible for content creation, marketing automation, social media, public relations, website content and event management. Brooke earned a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University in journalism. In her spare time, she enjoys running, listening to true crime podcasts, watching her kids play sports and spending time with family.

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