Over the last few years, we’ve all experienced a shift in the dynamic between employers and talent. Employers are having a hard time finding candidates for open roles across various job types and industries, as there is still a significant gap between job applications and job openings. And the job seekers that are out there are more selective, completing job applications and accepting offers at lower rates than in years past.
Today, candidates have the upper hand as they control precious resources for businesses — their time, knowledge, and skills.
So, where are employers falling short?
This year, more than 2 million college seniors will graduate, the vast majority of whom will be looking for full-time work after they receive their diplomas. With 11.5 million job openings in the United States, recent graduates of the Class of 2022 will provide a welcome infusion of talent to employers looking to fill open positions.
But to attract early-career talent successfully, employers need to take a more proactive approach to hiring, one that aligns with the expectations of early-career talent.
The Need for Progressive Hiring Practices
As the first digitally native generation, Gen Z learned to scroll before they could walk. They were born with fast-moving technology at their fingertips and do not recall a world without the internet. Accustomed to online interactions and access to knowledge and people at their fingertips, Gen Z expects the hiring process to be no different.
The youngest professionals are looking for a hiring process that is as progressive as they are. For instance, more than half of Gen Z candidates will not even apply for a position if they think the company’s recruiting methods are outdated, and one tell-tale sign of an antiquated system is a slow hiring process.
An iCIMS survey revealed that college seniors and recent graduates expect the entire hiring process to last an average of five weeks, from applying to receiving an offer.
It’s also important to note that the newest generation of talent engages with prospective employers before applying or directly interacting with a company. The iCIMS data also showed that more than half of graduates and seniors admit to researching or following their interviewers on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram to prepare themselves.
And while Gen Z has earned the reputation of being glued to their phones, these young professionals do value personalization and connection. An EY survey found that 90% of Gen Zers want some form of human connection woven into their work and team interactions, and this also rings true in the hiring process. What’s more, they demand more transparency via direct, frequent communication and check-ins.
Looking Toward Loyalty
With Gen Z expected to make up 27% of the workforce by 2025, their impact on the employee experience, and by extension, the candidate experience will continue to grow. For instance, many among this generation are far likelier to job-hop, changing positions at a rate 134% higher than in 2019, per LinkedIn data.
But despite their seemingly untethered attitude towards employers, iCIMS data revealed 91% of recent college graduates care how long they stay with a company and nearly 70% want to stay with a company long-term. And HR is backing them up — 62% of HR executives view Gen Z as more loyal than previous generations.
However, for Gen Z loyalty is not one-sided. Competitive pay is no longer the end-all, be-all for employee retention. This generation of professionals is empowered and willing to leave employers based on their values and expectations, including personalized communication, greater flexibility, and more transparent company values. When those expectations are not met, they are willing to move to new opportunities that promise greater alignment with what they want out of their employer.