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Early talent trends, Handshake Early Talent Awards, Improving employer brand, Tools & tips

What is your employer brand persona? Take our quiz to find out what Gen Z job seekers think 

When it comes to Gen Z talent, they're not just swiping right for any job; they want the full package and a big commitment.

On their job-hunting apps, they're looking for stability, benefits, salary, and organizations aligned with their values around diversity, transparency, and social consciousness.

That’s a lot for recruiting teams to communicate, especially if they limit themselves to on-campus job fairs at select schools.

The good news is you also don’t need endless resources, and your organization doesn’t have to be a household name to win top talent. While brand resonance is a scoring criteria for winning a Handshake Early Talent Award (ETA), many winners aren’t global enterprises.

How Handshake Early Talent Award winners attract Gen Z with strong brands

While brand resonance is a scoring criteria for winning a Handshake Early Talent Award (ETA), many winners aren’t global enterprises. They know their employer brand and tap into it to strategically foster relationships with early talent. They're leveraging their brand to:

  • Scale brand awareness through virtual events, making opportunities accessible to a broader range of candidates.
  • Expand school strategy to include more schools and democratize access to opportunities.
  • Gain a deeper understanding of company culture, emphasizing aspects that resonate with employees but might be overlooked.
  • Stand out from competitors by spotlighting the most unique and engaging attributes.
  • Identify areas of improvement and align existing policies and benefits with the organization's values.

While there are so many touchpoints in the candidate lifecycle, with the right tools, focus, and guidelines, your team can attract and retain qualified talent with a seamless candidate experience.

Get to know your employer brand persona and how to tap into your strengths

Employer branding is uncovering what makes your company an incredible workplace and then actively promoting those attributes to candidates. Once you complete the quiz, dig into your strengths and opportunities for attracting Gen Z with your brand.

But why invest in your employer brand and early talent?

Successful recruiters have a strong hybrid strategy and are mingling with students through targeted virtual sessions, personalized messages, in-person events, and awesome internships—and they are introducing themselves to students early in their academic journey.

By 2030, 1 in 5 Americans will be at retirement age. An aging workforce creates knowledge and skills gaps, which leak revenue and create friction for efficiency and innovation. Because of this, workforce management is top of mind for CEOs, right behind digital transformation and growth. A strong early talent pipeline prevents and mitigates risk since recruiting can be difficult and expensive, especially for more experienced roles.

Recent graduates and alumni with 0-5 years of professional experience can save an organization 45-54% over 3 years compared to mid-level talent. Additionally, in an InnovacationXChange roundtable, David Jordan, Chief Financial Officer of Americas at TD SYNNEX, also shared that, for their organization, early talent costs up to 50% less over their lifetime to hire and often stays longer when compared to slightly more experienced peers.

“When we hire early talent, we don’t want them just to think about their internship; rather, we want them to develop long-term careers at the firm. We do this by having an apprenticeship culture, showing them what it means to be a senior leader, and developing their talent and skills. 55% of Goldman Sachs’ current partner class started as campus hires.” –Omer Tanvir Global Head, Campus Recruiting, Goldman Sachs

Lowering cost-per-hire and time-to-hire is also simplified when you can quickly target a wide but specific candidate pool. 67% of Handshake Network Trends Gen Z survey respondents said that it’s not necessary to meet in person to make a professional connection. Many students and recent grads prefer virtual interactions for accessibility and flexibility—especially candidates from underrepresented groups.

Since most recent graduates lack professional networks, they rely on their school, alumni, and digital job networks. 78% of Gen Z say job network sites like Handshake are their primary tool in the job hunt. 47% of Gen Z talent applied to more jobs, and 36% opened their job search to more industries, companies, and roles.

It’s never been more cost and time efficient to scale your reach and hire the talent you need—but first, you need to know how to tell your employer brand story.

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