There’s something millennials and Gen Z workers would like hiring managers to know: They would rather have respectful, honest communication from management, meaningful work, and fair compensation than happy hours and game rooms. And if you’re not offering these things, they will look for them elsewhere.
Millennials and Gen Z have much in common—they’ve come of age and entered the workforce during turbulent times, they’ve witnessed mass layoffs and understand what they mean for individuals and families, and many of them are on the hunt for work that will have a meaningful impact on the world around them. Employers, whether they’re hiring millennials or hiring Gen Z candidates, need to keep these shared qualities in mind as they look to attract applicants.
But there are also key differences between these two generations. Figuring out what those differences are can help you develop a recruitment strategy that will appeal to the two most educated and diverse generations to enter the workforce so far.
Who Are They? Hiring Millennials vs. Gen Z
Born between 1980 and 1995, Millennials are approaching the midpoint of their careers and likely already make up the bulk of your workforce. Gen Zs, born between 1996 and 2010, are a much smaller cohort, beginning the first segment of their careers—looking for entry-level jobs, finishing up their post-secondary education, or earning a first promotion.
Much has been made of both generations’ reputation for job hopping, but this tendency can be seen as an opportunity for employers who are willing to learn what motivates younger workers to apply for new roles and how to lure top performers away from your competition. Understanding the subtle differences between these generations across the following criteria can help you craft an effective recruiting process for hiring millennials and Gen Z.
Technology and Innovation
Social media recruitment has become increasingly important when it comes to hiring Gen Z and millennials since both generations spend much of their time there, though not necessarily on the same platforms. Millennials are more likely to use professional development and networking sites to look for work opportunities, whereas Gen Z are less likely to differentiate their social media time between personal and professional, and they spend more time on video platforms such as YouTube and TikTok than millennials.
To appeal to Gen Z during the hiring process, consider sending personalized correspondence with an attached short signature or greeting video. Both generations are likely to reach out via social media, so be prepared to respond to seeker inquiries from those sources.
Gen Z candidates are even more mobile tech focused than millennials. They don’t remember a time before smartphones and have very little patience for long, involved online application forms that can’t be completed on mobile devices. Millennials are more likely to be adept with both new tech and relatively older communication modalities such as emails and voicemail, and to have a bit more patience with lengthier hiring processes, especially for upper-level positions.
Hiring millennials and Gen Z requires employers to be mindful of the candidate experience, as potential hires from both generations are gauging your process to determine whether they want to work for you. They have little patience for the crucible-like hiring processes that were the norm for baby boomers and Gen X.
Higher salary is the No. 1 motivating factor for younger workers to switch, especially for Gen Z. For millennials, salary is important, but they are more focused on equity and fairness in compensation. They want to be paid what they’re worth and are adept at researching what that is. Use salary tool that includes geographic area and job title to ensure your salary rangers are in line, or even slightly above the competition.
Both generations expect transparency when it comes to compensation. If you are caught lying about compensation policy or awarding wildly variant wages and benefits to workers with similar roles and tenure, this is likely to prompt them to look elsewhere.
Like Millennials, Gen Z applicants are likely to envision a career path that includes multiple employers along the way. In addition, because they entered the workforce just as a global pandemic resulted in layoffs that disproportionally affected younger workers, derailing the early career trajectories of many, they are generally more career-focused than millennials.
If you make it clear that you’re ready to mentor entry-level employees and give them growth opportunities to help them make up for lost time, you can appeal to Gen Z. Hiring millennials may require a slightly different approach, as this generation has historically been more focused on seeking out mission-driven career opportunities. Making your values as a company clear to potential hires will be key.
Gen Z prefers working in an office space—for now. This is likely because they are at a time of life where the community an office space provides is desirable. Millennials tend to seek out flexibility, as well as remote or hybrid work policies—understandably, as many are right in the thick of raising families and caring for other family members.
Millennials thrive in teams, though these days they tend to do so remotely via tools like Slack, Trello, or Microsoft Teams. Gen Z has a reported preference for working individually and many express a desire to go back to the era of private offices rather than shared workspaces with open floor plans. Knowing which approach to work appeals more to each generation can help you tailor your recruitment process accordingly.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Gen Z is the most diverse generation to ever enter the workforce. They expect their employers to be committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and are unlikely to be tempted to work for an employer that has a reputation for anything less. Developing an employer brand with a proven commitment to making real gains on DEI issues will pay off over the course of this generation’s tenure in the workforce.
As millennials begin to enter the ranks of management, they are focused on equity are likely to be attracted to a company that has cultivated an employer brand that includes a focus on DEI at all levels.
Learn the Best Ways to Connect to Every Generation
Whether you’re looking at hiring millennials or hiring Gen Z applicants, accessing the latest recruitment news and expert how-tos can help you get there.