As the Millennials now enter their mid-20’s and 30’s, it’s time we begin to shift some focus towards the new generation that is just beginning to graduate college and enter the workforce – Generation Z, those that were born between 1995-2010. As I began to prepare this blog I suddenly realized that my wife Sharon and I have three of this generation in our household (two sons and a daughter); well, one now a freshman in college. So here’s my disclaimer – I’m preparing this based on my experiences not only with my own children but also observations of all their friends and a bit of research.
Generation Z could also be called the world’s first “Digital Natives” – meaning these human beings cannot recall a time without technology and particularly social media, of which no doubt has had a huge impact on their world view and has shaped how they accomplish key life tasks! Twitter is the avenue my 19-year-old son used to find his roommate at VTU. While many Gen Z’ers have a Facebook account and occasionally stalk others, they much prefer Twitter and even more so Snapchat. It’s taken me a while to understand Snapchat and I don’t even have an account. I find it interesting that I will catch my kids taking a Snapchat (nonchalantly) with me in the pic with them; sometimes while I’m driving. It took me a while to realize that is their way of sharing with their friends that they are with mom or dad. Z’ers are very intrigued with short communication and pics that represent their activity or events for the day…and they love emojis!
Experts are predicting Generation Z, unlike their predecessors Gen Y, will overall be much more interested in face-to-face interaction following some intermediate ice-breaking via social media or chat rooms. I find this to be dead-on for my son Bailey as he met many college students, faculty, and mentors via digital media weeks before starting summer school and was very excited to meet these people face-face once he arrived to campus. Additionally, the “world is at their fingertips and always has been”, and therefore they can be called the world’s first global citizens. Even more than Gen Y’ers, Z’ers are absolutely enthralled with meeting people in other cultures.
Generation Z’ers are growing up in a healthier economy and appear to be independent. As a result, they are eager to learn on their own and not wait for their parents to teach them or help them make decisions. Contrast that to a 2015 Consensus Bureau that found that nearly a third of millennials still lived with their parents.
Another interesting growing characteristic trend among Gen Z’ers is that many of them see it as a cool to “step away” from technology and gadgets. Along this same line is while they grew up with five technology screens (smartphone, TV, tablet, laptop, and desktop) around them, they actually prefer fewer devices! Less is better in their opinion. And they overwhelmingly watch much less traditional TV as they prefer Netflix and YouTube.
I’m going to close with a few thoughts for consideration as we as employers begin to plan to connect with the Generation Z talent pipeline:
- I foresee virtual career fairs becoming more popular among the Z’ers! Hence, AgCareers.com has invested and planned a few virtual career fairs in the coming months. Find more information.
- Employers and employment websites such as AgCareers.com should consider reviewing website content and functionality to appeal to this generation.
- Employers that have yet to utilize social/digital media are subject to be ignored by Generation Z as places of employment.
- Employers that can create travel abroad experiences will have an upper hand attracting Generation Z.
Finally, Bailey, son, if you happen to read this blog, please consider allowing your mom to follow you on Snapchat; I’ll try not to let her embarrass you!