The latest gradireland Breakfast Masterclass was held in The Gibson Hotel on December 3rd. The topic of the event was Gen Z and how to recruit and engage them from an employer perspective. The masterclass had views from a variety of perspectives including leading experts and Gen Z students themselves. There were four talks in total on the day each focusing on a unique element around Gen Z from how to recruit and retain Gen Z students, and how to streamline the application process to cater for this unique generation.
The first talk of the morning was held by Eimear McNabb who is the business lead for Trendence in both Ireland and the UK. Trendence, which is MSR accredited, is a specialist market research company that focuses on helping organisations to effectively reach and recruit university and school students and is gradireland’s research partner. Eimear manages three of the largest early careers research projects in the UK and Ireland. Eimear’s presentation was entitled, “Who are Generation Z and how to get to them?” Eimear defined Gen Z as, “anyone born from the mid 1990’s onwards” and she also referred to them as, “screenagers” as they are the, “first generation to grow up in a truly digital age.” Eimear also went on to explain some of the defining characteristics of Gen Z as well as outlining what makes them different from previous generations. As Gen Zers have grown up with technology and the internet has been a constant presence in their lives, they are much more cautious about how to present themselves online. They are also more risk-adverse than previous generations and are very aware that they have been labelled, often wrongly, as “boring” and “screen addicted”.
Every year Trendence conducts a survey of third level students nationwide to find out the employers that they most want to work for after graduation, the sectors they most want to work in and their expectations of work including salary. In 2019 13,321 students were surveyed and when asked what the most important factor was when choosing a job, good career prospects came out on top with, status and prestige being very low down on the list. The most popular sector that Gen Z students want to work in is the IT and Technology sector. Gen Z’s salary expectations are low but the difference in salaries expected by males and females was “staggering” according to Eimear. Male Gen Zers expected a starting graduate salary of €35,010 whereas females expected €31,346. In 2019, All Gen Zers expected a starting salary of €32,849 which was down from €36,173 the previous year. As Eimear said, “you cannot buy Gen Z”. You need to attract them through constant and clear communication as well as having a culture that they can identify with.
Next to take to the stage was Laura Phelan, managing director at Aon Assessment Solutions whose presentation was entitled, “Skills of Gen Zers and bridging the skills gap”. Laura is an Occupational Psychologist and has over twenty years’ experience working with organisations ensuring that their HR strategies and practices support the achievement of the business agenda. Among her previous roles was Global Operations Director for cut-e.
Laura demonstrated just how fast the world around us is changing and the need for employers to adapt to the new generation of jobseekers. Gen Z are used to new products and information reaching them quickly and efficiently. They are also used to accessing information on the go and from various devices. Laura touched on a variety of fascinating topics and gave great insight but one of her main points was the need to recognise that Gen Zers are emerging from college with transferable skills and it’s important to build on that once you offer them a job rather than pigeonhole them into a specific and monotonous role. There are three core behaviours which you should instil in your Gen Z employees which are; learnability, agility, curiosity. Gen Z want to learn new skills and become proficient in different areas. If you provide people with the right information to achieve these skills, they will be very motivated. If you recruit people with these three skills, you are setting up your organisation for the future.
“Getting engagement right from first contact to start date” was the topic of the next talk which was held by Hannah Harrison, director of TARGETrecruit and Simon Katchay, recruitment and business development manager at Group GTI. Hannah is responsible for the delivery of global recruitment campaigns for leading graduate brands across a wide variety of sectors. Simon joined GTI 6 years ago and after progressing through various roles now leads on GTI’s Select Applicant Tracking System sales. Hannah spoke about how Gen Z are craving face-to-face communication and how the application process could be improved as many of the current iterations are too long. She quoted two students who they have worked with who said, “it is generally painful not to hear anything back” (in relation to job applications) and “Psychometric tests don’t give you a chance to show who you are. They are just a statistic”. It isn’t possible to have face-to-face interaction with all applicants, but it is relatively easy to engage in clear and consistent communication. Gen Z crave feedback whether positive or negative and if an applicant has made it as far as an assessment centre stage but doesn’t progress further than this it is vital that you call them and tell them why. From an employer perspective you need to put yourself in the shoes of the applicant.
Simon talked about the importance of trust when it came to the application process. Your application process should be clearly branded and avoid using third party websites where possible. If part of the application process involves the graduate using another site which is not linked to your own, then their trust in the process will decline. Simon also spoke about the importance of GDPR. Gen Zers are very aware and clued-in and want to know where their data is going and how it is being used. When they upload a CV where is it going and who is looking at it?
The last talk of the evening was a panel discussion chaired by gradireland editor Ruairi Kavanagh and four students and graduates from Generation Z, Mark Scanlon – Masters in Marketing, National College of Ireland, Roy Farah – Aviation Management with Pilot Studies, DCU, Louise Silva – Aviation Management with Pilot Studies, DCU and Hannah Reddy – Advertising & Marketing Communications, TU Dublin Tallaght Campus.
All of the panel provided great insights including the value of face-to-face interaction, how visiting campus’ can be of real benefit to employers, how it is never too early for employers to start interacting with students and how one on one mentoring is crucial to retaining new employees. Below are the just some of the insights provided by the panellists.
“There is nothing I dislike more than a longwinded application process – they are demotivating and faceless. It is difficult to carry out a long application process in your final year. However, if someone contacted me and offered me a realistic time-frame asking when I can finish the application that would be much better. Employers are picking us but we’re also picking them. We are as loyal to you as you are to us.”
“What has really benefited me in college is getting to meet employers face-to-face. I find that really helpful. Doing presentations in front of class is great and has developed my communication skills.
“A company needs to sell their culture. The culture is what makes you stand out as roles in the business sector can be very similar. Google’s culture makes them stand out. For example, something as simple as having casual clothes days can make a big difference”
“It’s the personal touches that make you feel like you fit in rather than the salary. For example, a company laptop, free medical checks and health benefits make you feel like you fit in.”
For more information on our next event, gradireland Live, click here!