The secret to recruiting “Gen Z” talent

Generation Z is usually defined as people born between the years 1996 and 2012.

In 2021, the people born towards the start of this period have long started entering the workforce. In fact, they will soon make up almost a quarter of the world’s workforce.

For employers seeking to attract the best of Generation Z talent, it’s important to understand what sets this group apart – and what they are looking for – if you want your manufacturing and engineering recruitment efforts to be successful.

Because conflating Gen Z with the oft unfairly-maligned “millennials” can be a big mistake. The two groups might be only years apart. But they have big differences in their life experiences and what they look for in their careers.

What sets Generation Z apart?

                  1) Diverse and open-minded

Broadly speaking, Generation Z has more inclusive views than any generation before them. They are much more likely to be concerned about gender equality, racism, LGBTQ+ issues, climate issues and other vital concerns.

Generation Z is also much more diverse in and of itself than any generation before. This may be why they are, as a general rule, so accepting and supportive of diversity in others.

                  2) Natural digital and social users

Generation Z has never known a world that does not have the internet and social media. They are used to having instant access to the world’s information via the devices in their hands.

They are almost universally at home on social media and are used to using digital platforms of all kinds. They also tend to be able to learn and adapt quickly to platforms they are not familiar with.

                  3) Seek purpose and causes

The overwhelming majority of Gen Z believe strongly in one or more social causes. They also believe that action can be taken that will fix the world’s problems.

This carries over into the workplace too. The majority of Gen Z say they care about their organisation’s actions – not just its rhetoric – on important issues.

                  4) Hit hard by COVID-19

No matter what “generation” you count yourself part of, the COVID-19 pandemic will have had a major impact on your life. But for Gen Z, that impact has been particularly acute.

Surveys have shown that Generation Z was more likely to have lost income because of the pandemic – or have someone in their household lose income – than Generation X, Baby Boomers or even millennials.

For those of Gen Z still in education, the pandemic has led to cancelled exams and heavily disrupted their formative school years. This has all had a big impact on the way they think about work.

How to appeal to Generation Z talent

                  1) IT and social

Generation Z is very likely to expect their employer to provide laptops, mobiles and other devices. They are also likely to be attracted to organisations with a smart, savvy online and social media presence.

That savvy is key. Because Gen Z are pretty savvy themselves at spotting organisations that virtue signal rather than really believe in a cause.

                  2) Have a purpose

Being inclusive and diverse – and a broad desire to seek out causes to belong to and believe in – means that Gen Z are more inclined towards working for businesses that have a clear mission and values.

A good “vision statement” isn’t enough though. Again, Gen Z are pretty good at identifying organisations that talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.

For engineering and manufacturing recruitment that appeals to Generation Z, you need to show through positive action that you embody the vision of your organisation.

                  3) Offer job security and progression

Generation Z has grown up witnessing economic catastrophes. The 2008 financial crash. The coronavirus pandemic. They have seen how it affects their household, themselves, and the world at large.

Overwhelmingly, this means they want job security. In this industry, most are looking for manufacturing and engineering jobs where they can:

  • Make an impact

  • Know their path to promotion

  • Stay for at least four years – and possibly longer

It’s also worth noting that in the coming years, the education of most members of Generation Z entering the workforce will have taken a hit due to the pandemic. This might mean they are looking for more skills training as part of job roles.

                  4) Don’t forget the human component

People from Gen Z might be at home with technology. But the vast majority would rather work as part of a team than on their own.

Engineering and manufacturing recruitment opportunities that emphasise both the team-based, collaborative nature of the work and the technological tools available is best placed to appeal to leading Gen Z talent.

                  5) Provide mental health support

Even before the pandemic – possibly not helped by all of that online bombardment and growing up watching constant bad news – surveys showed that Generation Z was far more likely to want professional support for anxiety, stress, depression and other mental health problems than past generations.

                  6) Opportunity beats brand

Gone are the days when you could trust in your brand name alone to bring in the best of the new talent.

Gen Z are more likely to prioritise a job that sounds interesting – and which comes with possibilities for advancement and security – than a less exciting role at a more established company.

Start connecting with Generation Z

If you are looking to recruit Generation Z talent for manufacturing or engineering job openings, focus your attention on the above if you want to up your appeal.

You should consider reaching out and trying to connect with candidates regularly and as early as possible too. Or start working with an engineering or manufacturing recruitment agency that does.

Looking to recruit the best of Generation Z?

Ernest Gordon is a specialist engineering recruitment agency. We source candidates of all ages and experience levels for organisations up and down the UK.

Talk to us today. About your company. The role you have. And who you are looking for to fill it.