How Campus Recruiters Can Court Gen Z Candidates

February 18, 2016 Matthew Stollak

Generation Z is here (no, it’s not a sequel to the Brad Pitt zombie movie). Defined as the cohort born in the mid-1990s to 2010, the first wave of this group is finishing college and entering the workforce. As organizations are beginning to hire the latest group of graduates, what can campus recruiters do to convince these individuals to consider applying and joining their firms?

Here Are Four Things to Consider:

Start Early.

Why wait until Gen Z candidates are graduating from college? The campus recruiting you want to be doing is at high schools — not college campuses. Companies in the know are already creating high school internships and targeting potential employees earlier than ever. A 2014 Millennial Branding study of 4,769 students found that “half of employers are either currently accepting applications from high school students for internships or plan to this year, and nearly half of high school students are participating in internships for the purpose of advancing themselves professionally in high school.”

One way to gain those inroads is to use a crucial tool: CareerBuilder’s Find Your Calling site.  Find Your Calling’s purpose is to help individuals find careers that make a difference. By identifying those Gen Z members who are interested in a field similar to your organization, you reduce the time spent sifting through candidates and demonstrate to those candidates that you are interested in them as more than a faceless resume.

Be Social, But Not TOO Social.

Gen Z has grown up in an era where having a smartphone and participating in social networks is second nature.  However, it does not necessarily mean they want to communicate directly with businesses and their managers. When I spoke with my students about the best way to communicate with them, they frowned upon texting or using Snapchat as the medium. They said it was “a little creepy,” and preferred email as the alternative. The smart recruiter will identify the appropriate communication channel and respect Gen Z’s desire for boundaries.

Select Benefits Targeted to Them.

If you want to catch the ear of a Gen Z candidate, a good start would be tuition coverage and student loan reimbursement.  With the cost of college tuition continuing to grow, Starbucks made a splash with their College Achievement Plan and partnership with Arizona State University to help cover the cost of attending secondary education.

Similarly, employers like PriceWaterhouseCoopers are offering financial support to pay off the considerable debt many students have incurred to achieve their college degrees.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

The average class of 2015 graduate with student-loan debt will have to pay back a little more than $35,000.

A recent SHRM employee benefits study indicates that just 3 percent of employers offer to help employees with their loan burden. Not only can student loan reimbursement serve to attract Gen Z to an organization, but it is also likely to serve as a retention tool as well.

Do Your Research.

The skilled recruiter is one who uses the data available to them. A research report I’ve utilized for years is the work of Dr. Phil Gardner at the College Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University. The Millennial Branding study found that 72 percent of high school students want to start a business someday. CERI’s research found that less than 5 percent of organizations were willing to fund “innovation spaces” or provide seed funds, preferring to provide mentorship (44 percent) or judge pitch competitions (14 percent). Given the small percentage, this might be an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage with Gen Z.

Organizations are only beginning to prepare for the next generation of workers.  Following these tips can give you a leg up on the competition.

Learn more about how CareerBuilder's College Recruiting Analytics can help you target the right Gen Z talent.



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