Just as companies have adjusted to the demands of generation Y, a new generation is set to graduate from college: generation Z.
William Strauss and Neil Howe set the standard for generational analysis in their book: Generations: The History of America’s Future 1584 to 2069. The basic premise of the book is that generational traits are cyclical, and therefore predictable. The trick with predicting demographic trends based on generational tendencies is to use the research from Strauss and Howe but also the knowledge we have of what teens have been doing as they come down the pipe into the workforce.
Based on that analysis, here are five ideas for how to prepare your recruiting strategy for generation Z:
1. Go mobile
Generation Z buys products based on battery life, and they interact with their favorite brands based on mobile applications. So you can bet that you will be recruiting this generation via their phone. Generation Z is phenomenal at writing short, which means they expect most communication to fit fine into a phone screen. Want to get better at this sort of communication? Check out the book: Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little by Christopher Johnson.
2. Forget e-mail
To generation Y, e-mail is a slow, inefficient tool that you use for work. To generation Z, e-mail is intolerable. Use social tools to get to generation Y. This gives them a way to see context to you and your company right away. Generation Z will also like that you can see a lot about them right away—they will have a lot of self-confidence when it comes to being seen and known. They will not be used to hiding behind anonymity and they won’t feel the need to—they’ll be speed demons when it comes to information processing, and gen z will be smarter than any generation before them.
3. Ditch outdated views about college degrees
Generation Z will be the first to experiment with DIY education on a large scale. This means many of them will say no to paying absurd costs for college. For many kids, it makes more sense to skip college. Other kids will go to a small, no-name community college. It’s likely that for generation Z, these alternative-college types will be the self-starters, the highly educated and the people you want to help run your company in the future. Recruit them by showing you understand why people don’t want to suffer through college any longer.
4. Pitch projects rather than titles
Homeschooling is a huge trend among counter-culture, no-BS generation X parents. Today, the majority of homeschoolers don’t do it for religious reasons, but because they want their kids to be independent thinkers. Current education research advocates individualized project-based learning. That is, kids do not do worksheets, book reports and tests. But rather, months-long projects that have a start and finish. Then the kids evaluate what they learned in order to determine their next step. This is the type of kid that will be best equipped for the workforce. Attract these up-and-comers by talking in terms they understand: constant learning through interesting projects.
5. Be open to new ideas
The key to being attractive to generation Z is to be a lifelong learner. The days of thinking school is for learning and work is for working are gone. Generation Z will be incredulous that those days ever even existed.
Management adapted very slowly to the demands of generation Y. And generation Y surprised everyone by leveraging their demographic power to force corporations to change. Gen Z will have similar demographic power, largely because baby boomers are such a big generation and generation X is so small, so there is a big gap in the workforce that generations Y and Z will fill.
Set your company apart from the competition by being great at hiring young talent before everyone else figures it out.