Gen Z’s New Perspective on Looking for Job Opportunities

Aug 1, 2021 by

It’s an understatement to say that this past decade has shaped and formed the entire world in a way that is hardly comprehensible by people today. It’s not only our grandparents who have seen great change in the world, but even in the lives of 20-year-old young adults, this change is mindblowing, and they’re struggling to keep up. From the unreliable movements of the economy to the unexpected turns that COVID-19 has brought and everything in between, finding a leg to stand on and building a base to later build a life upon is becoming harder each day. This is mostly because the “right path” has become unrecognizable. A college degree is no longer the recipe for success, but neither is creating a company of your own. The “guarantee” of stable livelihood has gone out the window, therefore after high school children are thrown into a world full of contradictions and fog they can’t seem to see through. To make matters even worse, this current state is even more unrecognizable for their parents and grandparents, so parental guidance can’t take you to the finish line either.

In response, Gen-Zers are inventing new paths and trying to fit into this new world by trying to adapt to each new situation and the economy as they see fit. When you put a Baby Boomer, a Millennial, and a Gen-Zer in an office together, you’ll recognize huge gaps between the three generations. At our core, we’re actually not that different from our younger or older counterparts, yet we still see these major differences in our everyday lives. This is mainly because each generation was taught differently. Baby Boomers were taught to gather college degrees and become intelligent people that fit into the world of capitalism. A generation after, Millennials looked for new opportunities, ways to look at the job market from a fresher perspective that takes talent and personality into consideration as well. They also began to target companies rather than specific positions as a way to grow faster within an organization. And now that it’s the Ge-Zer’s turn, these young adults. Today people are gathering skills like baseball cards, hoping it will make a difference when competing against hundreds of people with the same qualification. And while a bachelor’s degree has become the new high school diploma, some companies don’t even care about whether you have one or not. This list of contradictions has made the world a confusing place to live in, therefore the new philosophy has become “do whatever makes you happy in life”.

More and more teenagers are surfacing with new inventions, and even working company structures selling all sorts of things from homemade jewelry to slime. On the other hand, a lot of people in their early twenties are still gathering college diplomas, while others are accumulating a list of specific skills that require short or online courses. Gen-Zers have only just burst into the workforce a few years ago, and now more than 20% of most offices are filled with Gen-Z employees. This means that offices have to adapt to this new “woke” mindset that wasn’t present 10 years ago. Their expectations including diversity, technological innovations, and everything in between have grown greatly, and these young adults are as fierce as ever. Offices know that these ambitious people are proven assets in the workplace, but attracting and keeping them will mean changing workplace politics and much more. For example, a few years ago, an offer from a high-end tech company would have made any Millennial swoon. The promise of high salaries, benefits, and exceptional office culture was enough to wow anyone. In contrast, the bigger part of Gen-Z seem to be repulsed by the negative perceptions of the tech industry, and they value the growing concern about the ethics of their practices more than financial security.

But this desire to keep themselves to a certain moral standard goes further than preferences in the workplace and actually impacts customer choices of Gen-Z as well. A big part of the generation likes to ensure that a brand is aligned with their own values before making a purchase. This is the reason smaller, more conscious companies are skyrocketing today.

Diversity & Office Politics

Huge aspects of filtering job opportunities today are diversity, equity, and inclusion which have become increasingly relevant in the entire world in the past few years. These issues seem to be particularly important to Gen-Zers, or at least they’re taking seemingly bigger action when it comes to them. The diversity of their peers and the openness of superiors are all things they consider when looking for opportunities. People are witnessing and experiencing discrimination or bias based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or upbringing on a daily basis. This resulted in today’s young generation’s high standards when it comes to the job market. People will more likely accept an opportunity in a company that promotes and emphasizes a racially and ethnically diverse workplace over a company with great benefits and an exceptional salary but sub-par workplace politics.

They also expect respectful and open conversations around gender identity, no matter their own orientation. Having superiors who respect gender pronouns go a long way when hiring Gen-Zers. Sadly not a lot of companies have implemented these things in the past decade resulting in Gen-Zers looking for opportunities elsewhere or creating their own paths. Depending on the industry, only a few areas have truly caught up to the Gen-Z value and expectations.

Economic Security

Although most Gen-Zers think in a progressive manner, it might surprise a lot of people when they hear that when it comes to finances and benefits, many of this generation are still aligned with the more traditional security standards that are associated with older generations. The guarantee of an undisturbed and safe lifestyle is still something every generation “chases”, the only thing that’s changed are the high values that Gen-Zers are trying to prioritize.

Most people in this generation witnessed their Millennial parents/siblings/counterparts devastated by the Great Recession, by crippling student debt, and therefore are much more cautious when it comes to financial security and savings. This can be a form of generational trauma that translates to an entire generation that – while innovative – favors security in their lives greatly. So much so, that Gen-Z workers are said to be willing to work even harder, not shying away from night or weekend shifts in order to secure this financial freedom for themselves. In conclusion, while their standards are much higher and their actions are seemingly more aggressive, they’re also very hardworking when it comes to achieving a higher salary.

What does this mean for hiring companies? Gen-Zers are not only more likely to work overtime, or on the weekends, or do extra work for better benefits, but are also much more flexible when it comes to relocation and can adapt to major changes quicker. A survey shows that most of these young adults state that when looking for their first opportunities, pay is one of their number one priorities.

Next to this, they also prioritize proactive communication, transparency, and diversity in their place of work. And while it’s not the most important, they are also on the lookout for opportunities that allow them to grow in the company via promotions or the changing of positions.

A stereotype this generation has is their connection to technology and the way they’re “glued to their phone screens”, but looking at people in their early twenties today, people are being proven wrong. Not only do they value relationships and in-person communication in the workplace and otherwise, but they’re more than flexible when it comes to limiting their free time in order to be more productive, healthy, and motivated. They expect direct and frequent communication or feedback in the workplace and strive in a transparent and open atmosphere. While Millennials weren’t swooned by the idea of quarterly performance evaluations, Gen-Zers value them along with some constructive criticism.

While evaluating the behavior of an entire generation isn’t directly possible (especially in an international sense), one thing is clear. Gen-Zers have seen major changes in their life that differs from anything we’ve seen so far. Without the support of parental guidance and with the daily changes in the world economy, young adults everywhere are trying to live day-by-day while trying to be smarter than their older counterparts. This translates to motivated, ambitious people who will do anything for financial freedom and stability while actively trying to achieve change more rapidly than any other generation. Gen-Z workers are seen bringing in some very fresh ideas and new expectations and strong beliefs that companies must adapt to if they want to attract these people.

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