Plenty has been written about millennials and work. After all, they are already the largest generation in the US labor market and are expected to outnumber the baby boomers altogether in 2019. But with the oldest millennials in their late 30s and many assuming leadership positions, a new, younger generation is now entering the workforce — Generation Z. And the oldest members of this new wave (born in 1997, according to Pew) are graduating college this year.
So how are Gen Z and millennials (born 1981-1996) different? Though we are still in the early stages of seeing Gen Z develop, there are some key differences to point to. Gen Z grew up in a world of geopolitical and economic turmoil; the oldest Gen Zers were only four when the events of 9/11 happened, and they watched their parents struggle with the stress brought on by the 2008 global economic recession. The oldest millennials experienced decades of relative peace prior to 9/11 and, with many already in the workforce in 2008, they felt the recession as a shock as opposed to the norm.
Gen Z also has a unique relationship with technology. Millennials are often thought of as the first “always connected” generation, but many grew up with dial-up internet and landlines. Gen Z had access to smartphones from childhood — the oldest Gen Zers were 10 when the iPhone launched in 2007 — and many have likely never even seen a floppy disk! In this sense, Gen Zers may be the first true digital “natives.”
Gen Z demonstrates a strong interest in “future-proof” jobs
So what do we see as Gen Z enters the workforce? How are their unique life experiences affecting the type of jobs they want?
To learn more, Indeed’s analytics team crunched the numbers on Gen Zers of graduation age compared to everyone else. We also calculated a “popularity index” to show how much more frequently this group clicks on certain full-time job postings compared to all other job seekers.
Initial surveys identifying what Gen Z wants suggest that job stability is a priority, in stark contrast to the stereotype of their job-hopping millennial counterparts. Given that they grew up during the Great Recession, this is understandable, and we certainly see that reflected in searches on Indeed, where we see a strong showing for tech and health-care jobs — strong career choices for people who seek security as both fields suffer serious talent shortages.
In fact, almost half of our list is made up of tech-related jobs, including the top four spots. Fittingly enough for a generation of digital natives, Apple, the world’s first trillion-dollar company, is a strong draw. The number-one iOS developer was clicked on 3.2 times more often by graduation-age Gen Zers than by other job seekers.
This was followed number-two computer vision engineer, number-three machine learning engineer and number-four audio engineer. Computer vision engineer (#2) and machine learning engineer (#3) work with some of the most advanced tech currently being developed — artificial intelligence or machine learning. Number seven (junior software engineer) and number 13 (entry-level developer) round out the tech jobs in our top 15.
Though tech skills can be learned through community college classes, boot camps or even online courses, most tech jobs still require a bachelor’s degree, if not more.
Gen Z shows interest in a brand new job — and an ancient one
A few interesting outliers also made their way to our list. Digital natives? Not so fast. Our number 10 job, bookseller, suggests that just as millennials helped revive vinyl, perhaps Gen Z will do the same for physical books, leaving those e-readers behind.
But if booksellers have been around for a long time, the same cannot be said for number 12 — gamemaster.
This may sound like something from Dungeons and Dragons, but gamemasters are the people who manage and assist people in escape rooms. The first known escape room opened in Japan in 2007, and the concept arrived on US shores in 2012. This is a new job for a new generation.
Thinking ahead to future-proof jobs
Success is also important to Gen Z: a recent study showed that a sense of professional and educational achievement was what was most important to them.
Our data reflects this in the interest Gen Z shows in jobs that are a reach for them right now. For example, anesthesiologist (#11, with 1.8 times more clicks by grad-age Gen Zers) and associate dentist (#15, 1.7 times more clicks) both made our list.
Though graduation-age Gen Zers are not qualified for these jobs just yet, they are both secure choices for the future, as we face looming shortages of doctors and dentists. An additional safeguard is the fact that neither is likely to be automated anytime soon.
Practical jobs they could get straightaway
Finally, reflecting their limited work experience, many in Gen Z are looking for service-oriented jobs they can start quickly, without additional years of school.
These are jobs that don’t require graduate degrees. But here too we see some of that Gen Z practicality. For instance, there is strong interest in daycare assistant jobs (#5) — an area where, like health care and tech, there are shortages. The beauty sector is growing quickly, and we see beauty consultant at (#6) . We also see bridal consultant (#8) and veterinary assistant (#14).
It will be interesting to see how Gen Z’s career interests develop over time as they gain education and experience. They may try to learn from millennials, many of whom used higher education as a way to escape the fledgling job market during and after the Great Recession. Many millennials are now saddled with student debt (almost two thirds owe more than $10,000), and Gen Zers are wary — only 11% said they planned to take on debt to cover the cost of college.
Additionally, time will tell if Gen Z’s tech expertise continues to drive them toward tech jobs. When asked, “Which of the following do you currently use and foresee using five years from now?” fewer Gen Zers than millennials predicted future use of every tech device or tool (including text messaging and cloud sharing) except social media. And 37 percent of Gen Zers say they are concerned that technology is weakening their interpersonal relationships and skills.
For employers, think of Gen Z as a mix of practicality and idealism. The Gen Z practical side wants health care and mentorship. And the idealist side prioritizes an empowering work culture and companies that promote equality. As more of Gen Z enters the workforce, we will keep our eyes on how they are shaping the future of work.