If you’re paying any attention to Gen Z, you’ve likely come across this number: 61 million. That’s how many people born after 1996 are about to enter the workforce (and some already have)! According to a Bloomberg analysis of UN data, the global population of Generation Z will outnumber millennials this year. So just when you’ve mastered writing a job description to attract millennials, it’s time to learn a new skill: writing a job description that Generation Z will actually read — and then, hopefully, take the next step and apply to the job.
Before we get into it, consider what you know about Gen Z, if anything. Their most well-known quality is that they have no memory of existing without the internet or cell phones. In her Netflix comedy special Elder Millennial, Iliza Shlesinger urges Gen Z to “gather ’round the Snapchat, children. I’ll tell you the tale … of the landline.” The iPhone launched in 2007, when the oldest Gen Zers were just 10 years old.
It’s no surprise that Gen Z uses cell phones with lightning dexterity — as if their minds and the features of their phones were one and the same. But that also means Gen Z is quick to swipe left at lackluster job descriptions, so employers and recruiters need to be on their toes. If you want to attract their attention and engage them as candidates, consider these six key factors when writing a job description for Gen Z:
Keep it concise
By the time Gen Z finds your job description, they will likely already have researched your organization, asked around, looked at employee reviews online and even looked at print materials.
The National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) found that the top three sources Gen Z checks for prospective employers include job search sites like Indeed (28 percent); but the job search itself takes potential candidates everywhere from career websites (76 percent) to recruiters (25 percent) to, yes, print materials (12 percent).
With so much to look at, it’s best to make the job description concise and to the point. Gen Z doesn’t like to dally, and they have enough noise and background static in their life. If they think your job description takes too much energy to wade through, there’s a good chance they’ll bounce.
Spotlight development potential
Gen Z wants to develop. They prefer to be coached rather than managed, and they are deeply motivated by work that enables them to learn and grow — not just as your employee, but as a professional on a career trajectory, and as a person as well.
In this sense, they’re not so different from millennials: both generations want and expect frequent coaching and feedback, according to a recent Deloitte study. And while they may have the technological edge over other generations at entry level, Gen Z also wants to improve their interpersonal and soft skills. When writing your job description, make sure it clearly outlines the kinds of growth and learning opportunities the job and the employer have to offer.
Avoid cleverness and lingo
Gen Z is inundated with inauthentic and euphemistic language. They’ve grown up on social media and in the era of controversies surrounding phony information on the Internet. As a result, they can spot inauthentic language from a mile away.
While it might be tempting to use language that seems Gen Z-friendly in the job posting, don’t: it won’t come off as sincere, and it will make your organization look both dated and desperate. Instead, be real and be honest. Don’t overdescribe, and don’t overpromise. Using phrases like “superstars” may well make this generation uneasy. And keep lingo out of the description: Gen Z is new to the workforce and likely unfamiliar with certain terms.
They’re also attuned to language that masquerades a minus as a plus, such as “fast-paced, self-starting environment,” which to them could mean there’s no time to train new hires.
While Gen Z tends to be startlingly tech savvy, it turns out they are hungry for real and honest engagement, and they consider entering the workplace to be a way to meet and work with people. They want to work with great colleagues, they enjoy collaboration and they appreciate face-to-face communication.
Interestingly, Deloitte found that Gen Z is aware that keeping one’s face (and life) in a 4 x 5 inch screen can prevent physical interaction time — and they are eager for the chance to catch up. Having grown up defined by algorithms such as what they “chose” to listen to on Spotify or watch on Netflix, they are hungry for authentic contact. Offer details about the people aspect of the job — such as who the employee will interact with on a daily basis — as well as details about weekly meetings, informal check-ins and one-on-one meetings. Gen Z won’t take this for granted the way older generations might.
Cover the nuts and bolts
The trick to a great job description, no matter the generation, is to provide enough information to make it clear and convey how the company is unique, but not clog up the posting with excessive terminology — unless the job and skill level warrant it.
With Gen Z, you’ll want to touch on the culture, the pace, the core values and why people love working at your company. Be clear about the job’s core responsibilities, day-to-day activities and opportunities for growth. Explain how the role fits into the organization as well. Mention benefits — if you don’t, Gen Z may not assume you offer them.
Expect candidates to cross-reference your job description with reviews and feedback from other sources: the people of Gen Z are quicksilver consumers, and they’re used to shopping for the best deal — a reflex that crosses into many other realms. If your organization hasn’t embarked on unifying your brand across multiple channels, now’s the time.
Watch for bias
Gen Z is acutely aware of bias and doesn’t want to be gender-stereotyped. According to a New York Times poll, Gen Zers believe they can change their gender identities and sexual preferences more than any other generation. In your job posts, avoid potentially gender-charged terms and stick to straight-forward descriptions like “software engineer.”
Further, you can emphasize both in your job descriptions and in your company brand that your company is committed to inclusion and diversity.
To sum it up
There’s been much mythmaking about Generation Z — they’re hooked on phones, unable to complete a sentence, have miniscule attention spans — but these are just that: myths. In truth, Gen Z is a generation that is very concerned about the future and has so much to offer the workplace. They’re going to be the key to companies that want to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and within a decade or two, they will be taking our places — as managers, leaders and visionaries. Once you hire them, commit to teaching them well, and they will be your company’s next best asset.
Meghan M. Biro is a globally recognized analyst, author, speaker and brand strategist. The founder of TalentCulture, she hosts #WorkTrends, a popular weekly Twitter Chat and podcast. Her career spans across recruiting, talent management, digital media and brand strategy for hundreds of companies, from startups to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google. She also serves on advisory boards for leading HR technology brands. Meghan can be regularly found on Forbes, SHRM, and a variety of other outlets. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Indeed.