How Employers Can Attract Gen Z Employees, Post-Pandemic

Have you taken any steps yet towards attracting Generation Z applicants to your vacancies?

We’re not out of the woods yet, but as we begin to come to terms with – and begin to emerge from – the Coronavirus pandemic, many employers are now looking to recruit new members to their team of staff.

If you are hoping to attract the best young talent to your vacancies, these young people are going to be members of Generation Z.

Who Are Generation Z?

So, who are Generation Z and why do you need to be aware of this when adapting your recruitment strategy?

Generation Z is the post-millennial generation. They are young people who were born between 1997 and 2015. This means the school leavers and graduates of today are part of Generation Z and these are the people who are going to be entering the world of work.

So why do recruiters and employers need to know what makes Generation Z tick?

The behaviour and attitudes of different generations are affected by events they have witnessed and the world and economic climate they have grown up in. When those people are looking to enter the workplace, those events that have nurtured them will affect their job search.

It will impact the type of career they are looking for and their expectations from that role once they are working.

As a recruiter and an employer, you need to be able to tap into this in order to attract the best talent to your roles.

On top of this, whilst attitudes and expectations about what young people want from their careers were slowly changing, the Coronavirus pandemic has acted as a locomotive and has accelerated this. This means employers need to adapt their recruitment strategy accordingly so as not to risk missing out on attracting the best candidates.

Attracting Generation Z To Your Vacancies

Generation Z has got a lot to offer and, over the coming years, are going to change the way we work. This is the generation who have little or no memory of life before the digital era, where smartphones are the norm.

Add to this the fact that more and more older employees are choosing to retire early as a result of the pandemic, Generation Z is bringing a whole new perspective to your workplace.

Yes, it might be a candidate-rich market at the moment but in order to attract the best candidates and the ones who are the right fit for your company and its future success, you need relevant employer branding that appeals to them.

What Is Generation Z Looking For In Their Role?

As mentioned earlier, attitudes and expectations around employment were already beginning to change a few years ago, but the Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated this.

Young school leavers and graduates are now looking for:

  • Clear evidence of training and development within their role and a clear path for career progression. Whilst earnings are a factor – we all want the financial reward for our efforts – evidence that the employer will invest in the professional development of staff is more important.
  • Job stability and security. Perhaps not surprising given the climate in which Generation Z has entered the workplace. Whilst the previous generation were happy to move from job to job, this generation is looking for stability where they can develop their career and save for the future. Invest in your Generation Z employees and your staff retention should be given a huge boost.
  • How the company is innovating within its own industry. This is more important to Generation Z than the promotion of staff perks such as social events and clubs.
  • Company values that align with their own values. Generation Z is more likely to research a company to see what contributions it makes to the wider community such as local initiatives, charities or environmental projects. Young people are also more attracted to companies with clear policies that are acted on with regards to inclusivity and diversity. They are more tuned into this and are generally not afraid to speak out about it.

“There’s this misconception out there that to attract younger talent you need to have it all be about the fun and the perks,” says Laine Thomas Conway, VP of Communication Strategy and Total Rewards Product Manager at Alight.

“What the data really shows is that this generation is about what you stand for, who you are and how consistent you are as an employer.”

  • How you dealt with the pandemic as a company. Was your team of staff looked after in the best way possible? What new ways of working did the company develop to deal with the situation? Did you address any potential mental health issues that could have arisen as a result of the pandemic?
  • Remote working. Because Generation Z has grown up in the digital age, they are less likely to be concerned about the geographical location of your company. They are more comfortable with remote working methods and many are also prepared to travel or relocate for the role that is going to offer what they are looking for.

What Employers Can Do To Attract Generation Z To Their Vacancies

With an outline of what young people’s expectations are when they are entering the workforce, what do employers need to do to make sure they attract the best applicants from this generation?

  1. General Tips
  • First and foremost, companies need to demonstrate how they are addressing what young people are looking for in a company.
  • Be transparent about the current working conditions within your company. Young people are looking for clarity and honesty and are accepting of the period of uncertainty we are in. This will attract candidates and boost your staff retention.

    “More than ever it’s important that employers be as open as possible regarding your brand and working culture post-pandemic, for as much about attraction as it is retention. If you’re still not sure when employees will be back in the office, be honest, this will help engage with Gen Z candidates.” – Matt Johnston, e4s
  1. Your Website/Careers Site
  • Make sure your employer branding is aligned to the points above and that this is evident when creating your job ads.
  • When candidates are researching your company, make it easy for them to find what they are looking for. Have sections on your website that show evidence of:
    • diversity and inclusivity
    • how staff progress in their careers
    • how you dealt with (and are still dealing with) the pandemic
    • any changes to your recruitment & onboarding process
  1. Job Ads
  • Reassure students on the job security of your early career roles
  • Make sure you include a description of the role on offer. In a survey of Gen Zers which we carried out last year, this element was singled out by young job seekers as the most important. In a separate question, a list of duties that the role will entail was also highlighted as being hugely important.
  • Cut out industry jargon from your job ads
  • Give candidates an insight into what they will be doing using plain English
  • Project the value and purpose of your organisation so candidates can decide whether they will fit in
  • Outline training and career progression opportunities
  • Be careful not to limit your net to specialist job sites – for example, apprenticeships-only or graduate-only job sites – as we’ve seen the number of candidates searching for apprenticeship roles and specific graduate vacancies decrease. You would do well to engage Gen Z candidates through more generic student job boards, like e4s, to reach candidates who might not know you offer these schemes
  1. Social Media
  • Create video interviews with last year’s graduates and apprentice intakes explaining how your company treated them over the last year and changes made to their training schemes. Again, in the survey of Gen Zers which we carried out last year, young job seekers said that video interviews with current employees of your company had a ‘net useful’ score of 74 per cent.
  • Provide insights (video, images) into what an early careers role looks like at the moment so candidates can picture themselves in the job
  • Project values and purpose on all of your candidate-facing social channels
  1. Career Fairs
  • Because they are online at the moment, attend more careers fairs than you usually would. You will speak to fewer candidates at each event, but there are no travel costs, so attend more of them.
  • Consider delivering a presentation to increase your brand exposure rather than just one-on-one online meetings
  1. The Hiring Process
  • Gen Z is digital-first so make sure your process is all digital. If it isn’t, then look at an ATS provider, such as Talent Funnel, for example.
  • Gen Z is used to near-instant feedback so don’t keep them waiting for a response, and keep them up-to-date throughout the process
  • If you have a smaller intake this year, then you may have a significantly higher number of applications per vacancy, so think about how you can screen candidates either pre-application or as part of the recruitment process. For example, killer questions on your application forms or gamified tests before applying
  • Give candidates tips on, and set expectations around, video interviews, online assessments etc that are new in the last year.
  • Make sure your new entry-level employees feel included and have plenty of opportunities to get to know other employees, especially if they are mostly working remotely. Working remotely makes it much harder for new employees to absorb information and get to know co-workers than in a physical work environment.
  • Acknowledge your awareness that young candidates may have missed out on placements, internships or other types of work experience. Clubs and sports teams have also been on hold in many cases. These are all areas young candidates draw on for demonstrating leadership skills, teamwork, initiative. Look for other ways in which they have demonstrated these skills throughout the pandemic.

Effects Of The Coronavirus Pandemic On Jobs & Recruitment

Generation Z is entering the workforce in an unprecedented situation. They will begin their careers in the midst of the pandemic and post-pandemic. They’re also entering the workforce post-Brexit. These are two situations which have led to a great deal of uncertainty for young people.

As an employer, depending on the sector you are operating in, you may have been dealing with situations in your own workplace such as the furloughing of staff, adapting to different ways of working, and, in the worst cases, job losses.

On the flip side of the coin, employers in some sectors have needed to recruit more staff because the nature of the pandemic has meant they have had a bigger workload.

Whatever the sector, however, the nature of the workforce has changed and this is the uncertain situation into which Generation Z are entering. Young people have been the worst affected by jobs losses across the UK.


Whilst the number of Apprenticeships being offered to younger people was falling pre-pandemic, the pandemic situation has exacerbated this. Lockdowns and changes in working environments have meant that employers have been unable to offer new Apprenticeships.

Apprenticeship openings dropped by more than half, but particularly affected are the 16-19 age group where Apprenticeship openings dropped by a massive 79 per cent. As we come out of the pandemic and vacancies present themselves, there’s a lot of young talent out there that employers need to attract to their roles.

Graduate Jobs

According to this ISE report, the number of graduate jobs has faced its biggest drop since the ‘great recession’ of 2008-09.

Overall, there has been an 18 per cent drop in the number of graduate jobs on offer but different sectors have had differing experiences. Graduates looking to enter the retail sector have seen a cut of 45 per cent.

In other sectors, the pandemic has either had no effect on the number of graduate vacancies or it has caused an increase. IT and engineering have seen no change but have faced a continued difficulty in filling their vacancies.

Charitable and public sector graduate vacancies have seen an increase of 4 per cent as a result of the pandemic.

Internships & Placements

For many future graduate careers, internships and placements are hugely important – both for students and for employers.

Students get real experience of the workplace and the opportunity to impress and make contacts. Employers get the opportunity to work with students and decide if they would be a good fit for the company on graduation.

Because of the changes in working conditions due to the pandemic, internships have decreased by 29 per cent and placements by 25 per cent. This is the largest drop since the ISE started collecting data in 2010.

We can’t know for certain what the long term impact of the Coronavirus pandemic will have on the nature of the workforce and on employment, but, in the here and now, this is the situation in which Generation Z is trying to forge a career.

For Generation Z, when it comes to employment and the pandemic, fewer vacancies, furloughs, job losses, working from home, Zoom meetings and constantly adapting to changing situations is not the new norm; it is their normal way of working as they very often don’t have any other previous experiences to compare it to.


Generation Z job seekers are beginning their careers in unprecedented times. Invest in their recruitment and retention and your company should soon reap the future rewards.

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