Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 November 2019

Hiring approaches for Gen Z differs from millennials

The incoming generation of workforce want to learn hard skills and prefer working on their own projects, says LinkedIn's UAE head of talent solutions

Gen Zers will favour employees who place more importance on output than hours spent behind a desk, says the UAE head of LinkedIn Talent Solutions, Ghassan Talhouk. Courtesy LinkedIn.
Gen Zers will favour employees who place more importance on output than hours spent behind a desk, says the UAE head of LinkedIn Talent Solutions, Ghassan Talhouk. Courtesy LinkedIn.

Within a few years, a new generation of money­conscious, individualistic “digital natives” – Generation Z – will account for one fifth of the global workforce.

The difference between the newcomers (born from 1997 onwards) and their forerunners, the millennials (1981-1996), is their drive for immediate independence, competitiveness, and general dislike of collaboration.

But do not get discouraged – these bright-eyed new arrivals are good news for companies. They will help them shape a new work environment in a rapidly evolving career world. In order to allow them to do that, we must refresh our hiring strategies to accommodate their needs. This is essential to help recruiters prepare for a Gen Z that is more empowered when entering the job market than any of their predecessors.

There are a few insights that human resources and development teams can use when recruiting, engaging, and retaining this new crop of talent.

Firstly, let them shine in areas beyond their degrees. As members of Gen Z have a desire for hyper-customisation, where everything is personalised to their preferences, they will be more likely to write their own job descriptions.

This also goes for their academic degrees, which they feel do not holistically represent them. Most degrees no longer set a fixed path for students, and members of Gen Z, known for their assertiveness when it comes to getting what they want, will not appreciate a rigid approach from recruiters. Hiring teams should spend less time looking at the degree and results, and more time understanding the candidate’s personal qualifications.

Secondly, employers need to show recruits they are worth working for.

While both Gen Z and millennials search for jobs that offer a sense of purpose, the former demographic has a higher tendency to lose focus and become impatient. If they are not impressed with their current jobs, they will most likely leave, not bothering to stick with an employer they don’t deem worthy. It is therefore important that companies prove they are worth their time by providing a tangible vision they can implement and evaluate.

Thirdly, employers need to help recruits grow. While understanding the needs of Gen Z may be seen as a challenge by big companies who are trying to attract and retain talent, there is a bright side to hiring them. More than half of these digital natives are eager to learn new professional skills. Companies can benefit from this through the implementation of training programmes and continuous learning schemes, which would fit within overarching growth strategies.

In a recent survey conducted by LinkedIn, 40 per cent of working Gen Z said they were staying in their current roles because of the available opportunities to learn and grow. Employers should emphasise the learning options they offer not only during the hiring process but as an ongoing benefit.

And although the development of soft skills is useful, it is both interesting and noteworthy that Gen Z is still eager to learn hard skills. In fact, nearly two thirds of digital natives in the job market find technical skills crucial in today’s world, and companies offering them will find themselves ahead of the pack in the quest for fresh talent.

One other interesting difference to millennials is that Gen Z members are not as keen to collaborate with colleagues and would much rather work on their own. More than 70 per cent of believe that if you want something done right, you should do it yourself. Gen Z has a higher tendency to be independent and competitive than their millennial counterparts and while managers can encourage them to work in groups if it does not come naturally to them, employers must trust that Gen Z works hard and prioritises top performance.

One other key benefit that employers can offer to Gen Z workers at little or no cost is flexibility. Long working hours are becoming less appealing and more tedious. With the new generation of employees, companies should place higher emphasis on the output and quality of work, rather than the number of hours spent behind a desk. Setting flexible hours will retain focus and guarantee efficiency. Including flexible hours as part of the job description will spark Gen Z’s interest and appeal to a wider pool of applicants.

Ultimately, recruiters are starting to recognise that the new coming-of-age workforce comprises assertive, competitive and independent candidates who are unwilling to settle. This introduces an opportunity to overhaul talent attraction strategies to become more creative and thoughtful, all the while pushing forward the wheel of growth.

Ghassan Talhouk is head of LinkedIn’s talent solutions business in the UAE

Updated: October 15, 2019 08:35 AM

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