How to Attract and Retain Gen Z Talent

October 6, 2023
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Did you know that in 14 months, Gen Z is projected to make up 11% of the U.S. workforce? That means if you want to stay competitive in the market, you need to learn how to attract and hire this new generation of talent.

Generation Z is entering the workforce with unique characteristics, values, and expectations. To attract and hire the best Gen Z talent for your business, you must understand what makes them tick and adapt your recruitment strategies accordingly.

Who is Gen Z?

Gen Z represents the cohort born between 1997 and 2012. They grew up in a digital world and have distinct values and expectations shaped by their experiences.

In 2030, Gen Z will constitute over 20% of the U.S. labor force. Here is a visual from Deloitte illustrating the projected change in generational workforce composition from 2015 to 2030:

Gen Z’s Workforce Perspective

So, what makes Gen Z different from Millenials and previous generations? Deloitte surveyed 1,531 Gen Zers to learn just that. Here’s what they found:  

  • Where to Work: Gen Z focuses on careers in industries and companies they are already consumers of in their personal lives.
  • Career Development: Gen Z wants entrepreneurial opportunities while stably employed. The companies that can offer this will gain loyalty from Gen Z employees.
  • Team vs. Individual Work: Gen Z prefers individual work but values team connection. They like to work on their own but not in isolation.
  • Socially Conscious: Gen Z is socially conscious and cares deeply about sustainability, diversity, and inclusion. They don’t view businesses based on the products/services they offer but on how the company impacts the world.  
  • Values: Gen Z puts financial security over “personal fulfillment.”

How to Attract and Retain Gen Z

Communicate Effectively

Gen Z candidates expect fast and direct communication from employers. They want to feel valued and respected throughout the hiring process. They also want to use platforms and channels they are familiar with.

Here are some ways to communicate effectively with Gen Z candidates:

  • Utilize platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. You can use these platforms to communicate with them more informally and personally. You can also use these platforms to invite them to events or webinars that showcase your company or industry.
  • Leverage messaging apps for quick and direct communication. You can use messaging apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger for low-pressure interactions, such as by sending job alerts or invitations. You can also use texts for quick interactions, such as by confirming interview times or sending feedback.
  • Be transparent and responsive. Gen Z candidates appreciate transparency and responsiveness from employers. You should be clear about your expectations, timelines, and next steps in the hiring process. You should also respond to their inquiries or applications as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours.

Optimize Your Online Presence

Gen Z candidates are tech-savvy and digitally native. According to CGK, more than half use their smartphones for 5 or more hours each day. Here is an illustration of Gen Z smartphone usage from 99Firms:

Gen Z uses smartphones to search for jobs, research companies, and apply for positions. This makes optimizing your online presence crucial.

Here are some ways to do that:

  • Ensure your website is mobile-friendly. Your website should be easy to access and navigate on mobile devices, with clear and concise information, fast loading speed, and user-friendly design.
  • Maintain a strong presence on social media platforms. Gen Z candidates use social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat to discover and follow companies that interest them. Use these platforms to showcase your company culture, values, achievements, and employee stories. Interact with your followers by responding to comments, questions, and feedback.
  • Cultivate a positive reputation on employer review sites. Gen Z candidates rely on employer review sites like Glassdoor to learn more about your company from current and former employees. Monitor and respond to reviews, address concerns, and highlight your strengths. Asking employees to leave honest and positive reviews is an excellent first step in cultivating a positive reputation.

Create Authentic Content

Gen Z candidates seek authentic content demonstrating who you are as a company and what you stand for. They want to see how you align with their values and passions, especially regarding social and environmental responsibility.

Here are some ways to create authentic content:

  • Use videos, testimonials, stories, and podcasts. These are some of the most engaging forms of media that Gen Z candidates consume. You can use them to showcase your company culture and values by featuring interviews with your leaders or employees, sharing behind-the-scenes footage of your projects or events, or highlighting your impact on the community or the planet.
  • Highlight your commitment to social and environmental responsibility. Gen Z candidates care deeply about social and environmental issues, such as diversity and inclusion, sustainability, and mental health. If you support these causes, include it in the content you create. Examples include showing how you donate to charities, volunteer for nonprofits, reduce your carbon footprint, or promote wellness among your employees.
  • Share employee success stories and career growth opportunities. Gen Z candidates want to see how working for you can help them achieve their personal and professional goals. You could share employee success stories and career growth opportunities in your content by featuring testimonials from current or former employees who have progressed or moved to different departments or locations.

Create a Positive Candidate Experience

Gen Z candidates want a positive candidate experience and a hiring process that reflects your company’s values and culture. They want to feel that you respect their time and skills.

Here are some ways to create a positive candidate experience in the hiring process:

  • Streamline and optimize. Your hiring process should be user-friendly and efficient, requiring minimal steps or questions. Instead of filling out lengthy forms, consider allowing candidates to apply with their LinkedIn profile or resume. Substitute jargon and biased language in your job descriptions for clear, inclusive terms that appeal to Gen Z candidates.
  • Highlight your benefits, opportunities, and company culture. Your job postings or career site should highlight what makes your company unique or attractive to work for. Some examples include flexible work schedules, wellness programs, learning and development and mentorship programs.
  • Leverage the interview process. Interviews are another opportunity to share the company’s values and commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Engage and Retain Gen Z Employees

Gen Z employees are looking for more than just a paycheck from their employers. They seek meaningful work, continuous feedback, recognition, and development opportunities. While they prefer independence, a sense of belonging and purpose in their workplace is essential.

Ongoing Support and Guidance

  • Provide mentorship and opportunities for skill development.
  • Create clear career pathways.
  • Encourage continuous learning and upskilling.

Gen Z employees are eager to learn new skills and grow. Where possible, offer them learning and development programs like online courses, workshops, or certifications. Provide them with mentorship opportunities. Offer them career growth opportunities like cross-functional projects.

Feedback and Recognition

  • Offer regular feedback sessions to help Gen Z employees improve.
  • Recognize their achievements and contributions.

Gen Z employees crave feedback and recognition from their managers and peers. You should provide them with regular and constructive feedback on their performance, strengths, and areas for improvement while being sure to recognize their accomplishments.


Gen Z is becoming an increasingly significant part of the U.S. labor market. Learning about their unique perspective on the world and workforce can be challenging. Ultimately, it is worth the effort; companies that can attract and retain Gen Z talent will have a competitive advantage for years to come.  

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