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Early talent trends

10 Ways to recruit Gen Z into your multi-gen workforce

Hit early talent recruiting out of the park by using these “trading cards” to understand generational workplace nuances.

Regardless of what’s happening in the world, building relationships with Gen Z should be fundamental to your recruiting strategy. Why? Because over the next 10 years, the number of Gen Zs in the workforce will triple.

While it’s widely documented that Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse in US history, it’s important to note that another form of workplace diversity is employees’ range of ages and experience levels.

In this post, we’ll provide an overview of the generations currently represented in the workforce: baby boomers, Gen X, millennials/Gen Y, and will pay special attention to Gen Z, who are key to unlocking your DE&I strategy. Read on for 10 ways to include and recruit Gen Z–and collect our multi-generational trading cards to diversify your team!

Cover your bases

Refer to the “trading cards” in this post to help you understand some generational workplace nuances and hit early talent recruiting out of the park. Use these as a quick reference to think through:

  • Authenticity–of messaging, materials, and relationships
  • Connectivity–how are these generations currently engaging on digital platforms like Handshake and in your workforce?
  • Discovery–each generation is unique, with their own shared language and reference points!
  • Relatability–for establishing common ground, and what can be learned from each other

Generation Z

Gen Z trading card

Born between 1996-2010, Gen Z are digital natives.

They haven’t experienced schooling or work without technology. Their primary device is the smartphone on which they stream YouTube and TikTok content, participate in video chats, pay for goods and services, look for jobs, and take pictures (who needs an actual camera anymore?).

With the ability to connect with the world at their fingertips, it may come as a surprise that Gen Z craves 1:1 connections and the opportunity to build meaningful personal and professional relationships.

They also look for frequent, ongoing feedback on the job. Socially responsible and realistic, they are holding companies and the general public accountable on social justice and environmental issues. They expect the brands that they work for and buy from to be authentic, and seek financial security in their careers.

Dig deeper into our blog for more insights on how to stack your team with an all-star Gen Z lineup!


Millennial/Gen Y trading card

Millennials (also known as Gen Y) were born between 1980-1995 and are considered digital pioneers, with many having grown up straddling the analog and digital worlds. One big technology advance during millennials’ lifetimes has been the widespread adoption of smart phones, and millennials are right there with Gen Z on their reliance on apps.

Many millennials had AOL Instant Messenger (remember your “AIM name”?) and are still fluent in 1:1 text and chat (now referred to as “DMs”). This generation came of age on Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter, and currently document and share their stories on Instagram.

Like Gen Z, they are values-driven and understand the power of using their voices to impart change. They believe civil society and corporations can and should do more to close social justice and equity gaps.

At work, millennials are known for being collaborative and entrepreneurial. Also similar to Gen Z, millennials desire casual, frequent feedback as they continue to advance in their careers. Millennials now comprise 35% of the workforce, so if you aren’t a millennial yourself, you are likely working with them!

Generation X

Born between 1961-1979, the Gen X population is smaller than the baby boomer generation before them and the millennial generation after them.

As they came of age, Gen X was exposed to major global political affairs and scientific advancements like space exploration and the birth of the computer. They were the first video gamers (remember Atari?) and many were raised on TV. As digital immigrants, they didn’t grow up with the internet and many are still cable TV loyalists. But “adaptable” Gen X has embraced social media platforms, especially Facebook and Twitter.

At work, you may experience that Gen X’s feedback preference is direct, informal, and periodic–in contrast to millennials’ and Gen Z’s quest for frequent, ongoing feedback. Soft skills for Gen X include independence, resourcefulness, and an affinity for work/life balance.

Baby boomers

Baby Boomers trading card

Born between 1946-1960, baby boomers were the most populous generation before being overtaken by millennials.

As early adopters of technology, this generation has experienced a massive evolution in gadgets: from radio to color TV, print media to social media, they’ve used it all. That said, you might find that many baby boomers still prefer communicating by phone and reading print newspapers.

Baby boomers’ work experience has skewed toward a time when office dress codes were professional, and their feedback style is more formal, too–delivered on paper and infrequently. Baby boomers are known for being team players, optimistic, and tenacious–qualities which are key to mentoring Gen Zs!

Your Gen Z game plan

Today, Gen Z is estimated to comprise around 24% of the global workforce. With around 100,000 Baby Boomers reaching retirement age every day, employers must recruit and retain early talent to survive.Here are 10 ways to include and recruit Gen Z into your multigenerational workforce.

  1. Remember what it was like to start your first job out of college?

    Get into the student mindset: early talent is hungry for advice from those who have (cue the famous slang) “been there, done that.” The baby boomers in your workforce, a generational group that has a desire to mentor, and millennials who are known for being collaborative, may make for wonderful onboarding buddies for early talent! Encourage your team to set their Handshake profiles to “public” so they will appear on your Employer Page.

    Seeing a face with a name makes initiating a relationship more approachable for students.
  2. Use Handshake Premium Segments to ensure your pipeline is diverse and representative of Gen Z’s demographics (49% of Gen Zs in the US are of people of color).

    You can source candidates using Premium Segment filters to explore ways to diversify your pipeline and find qualified students from:
    • Underrepresented student groups
    • Minority-serving institutions, including HBCUs, MSIs, and women’s colleges
    • Diversity & inclusion-focused student organizations
    • Student skills and experience
  3. Since 90% of Gen Z believes companies should act in support of social and environmental issues, make sure your Employer Page on Handshake has a compelling mission statement and a clear commitment to corporate social responsibility.

    If you’re using Handshake Premium, you can include multimedia to give students an authentic glimpse into how your company values are incorporated into your corporate culture.
  4. While Gen Z is trending toward being a more educated generation than millennials, their concerns about debt may also lead them to explore alternative programs to learn skills. Broaden your school strategy and expand job qualifications to include all types of learning programs, such as bootcamps or online courses.
  5. The top 3 preferred methods of communication to recruit Gen Z are email, face-to-face, and phone.

    Make sure your recruiting and retention strategies incorporate your audience’s communication preferences! For example, use Handshake Premium's Campaigns to message students about opportunities and upcoming virtual career event sessions to build stronger relationships.
  6. Did you know a “finsta” or “spam” account is what Gen Z calls a private social media account for select friends/family? While Gen Z spends almost 3 hours per day on social media, some in Gen Z regard social media platforms as too public.

    Understanding how each generation uses social media differently can be a critical competitive advantage for your recruiting program and your brand.
  7. Despite seemingly living their lives on social media, it may be surprising to hear that Gen Z craves real relationships. Forty-five percent of professionals under 24 say that relationships are what keeps them in their current job.

    Early talent ranks direct employee information as the #1 way to learn about a company. Use Handshake Premium’s Ambassadors to foster relationships between candidates and current employees to help Gen Z build their professional networks and gain the face-to-face interaction they seek, which has the added effect of engaging your existing workforce in mentorship opportunities.
  8. Gen Z are avid communicators and find reminders (i.e. for events, application deadlines) helpful. There can be frustration from both the candidate and the recruiter’s perspectives if there is a missed connection; clarify in your messages if a response is needed to foster a feedback loop. Stay in touch through messages, event invitations, and follow up on Handshake.
  9. Not only should your recruiting program be increasingly digital-first to keep up with the competition, your hiring and onboarding should be digitized as well. Gen Z likes to work independently, self-paced, in the environment of their choosing. From meeting them on Handshake to bringing them onboard at your company, the entire candidate journey should be digital.
  10. Gen Z is open to relocation! Handshake data found that there are 36% more applications from Black students to positions for which relocation assistance is available. To level the playing field for all candidates, no matter where they are located or what their background, look to early talent to plug into roles that require a move and offer relocation assistance.

The ball’s in your court

Understanding the nuances of how each generation prefers to communicate, consume information, and grow in their careers is critical to the organizational health of your workforce. As digital natives, Gen Z is accustomed to being able to access information on demand.

That’s why a hit parade of activity on Handshake is the best way for your company to stay top of mind for early talent.

Since 81% of Gen Z strongly agree that it is important to establish employer connections even if they don’t have an immediate opening, building authentic relationships to recruit Gen Z will be critical to your pipeline for years to come.

With these tips and a better understanding of how Gen Z is diverse, socially-responsible, and hungry to make professional connections to help them kickstart and guide their careers can help you stand out from competition–and hit early talent recruiting out of the park!

Score a home run–download these trading cards!

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