One thing that is always true is that life is full of change. Heraclitus philosophized this when he claimed that change is the only constant in life. Seasons transform from one into another and new generations continue to come into existence. From Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, Gen Yers—the Millennials—to the newest, Generation Z, generational changes will also come to pass.
This young group has grown up in the digital age. Using iPhones, Snapchat and Instagram, they continuously shape their online presences. Gen Zers understand the power of technology for news, pop culture and activism. Self-aware in the significance of having one’s own personal brand, they embrace a life by design. From playlists, online fashions, to pursing interests, Gen Zers create a lot of their identity through technology. For potential employment, Gen Zers are keen to design the best fit there, as well. Generation Z is the newest age group to be categorized in this way. Gen Y (millennials) were born between 1981 and 1996. Those born from 1997 and onwards belong to Gen Z; the oldest are now graduating from university.
Sherry Knight works with individuals and organizations in numerous employment and human resource areas, including career planning and recruitment guidance. Knight is the president and CEO of Dimension 11, an equity partner firm of Career Partners International (CPI), one of the world’s largest global providers of talent management solutions. Knight advises that Gen Zers need to use their networks and highlight all their skillsets, outlining achievements they’ve contributed to, even from volunteerism. She shares that employers have been known to offer positions to young people simply from witnessing their positive attitudes in other environments. Knight explains that Gen Zers have witnessed the economic lows of the 2000s: “they have witnessed people losing jobs, having to return cars, and so money is important to them; it leads to security.” Gen Zers are motivated by the opportunity to work hard for this security and for job advancement.
Gen Zers “want to feel supported because they’ve grown up with this support,” says Knight. This leads to a desire for feedback—more feedback than some employers are used to. As Gen Zers have routinely accessed information quickly, employers need to recognize Gen Zers’ desires for roles that will enable them to make their own way and figure things out, while offering flexibility and learning opportunities. Company websites also need to be engaging and easily accessible in order to appeal to this tech-savvy demographic.
Gen Zers combine their youthful optimism with a serious social consciousness. Having grown up with inclusiveness, they expect employers to embrace diversity. Gen Zers “expect employers to be loyal,” Knight adds, with their employees and their communities. “Gen Zers feel they have something to contribute. They want to be involved. They want to work for a company that is honest about what it is doing.” Knight furthers that Gen Zers ultimately want assurance that their beliefs will correspond with “both the beliefs and the actions of the company.”