Landing your first job out of school isn’t easy, but some experts suggest gen Z could experience the job-hunting process differently from generations past.
Generation Z made up roughly 17.6 per cent of Canada’s total population in 2017, according to Statistics Canada. Although there is no established start or end date for this group, some experts say anyone born between 1995 and 2005 could be considered a part of generation Z. This makes the youngest gen-Zers 14 and the oldest 24.
While they may have similar habits to the generations before them, experts say that when it comes to careers, this generation will function very differently.
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Corey Seemiller, an associate professor at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, told Global News most people in generation Z look for jobs that are fulfilling.
“The most prominent considerations for those in generation Z when looking for a job include wanting to enjoy the duties, feeling like they can make a difference for others through their role or organization, having a sense of purpose, passion and greater meaning in doing their work and earning enough to attain financial stability,” she said.
Seemiller, co-author of Generation Z: A Century in the Making, added that unlike millennials and generations prior, gen Z may not try to climb the advancement ladder if they have a job they love.
“They care more about making a difference in their work than making a huge paycheque.”
Finding that first job
A 2018 survey of more than 16,000 gen-Z high school and college students in the U.S. found a majority of students used online job banks like Indeed, LinkedIn and even Google to find jobs, Inc reported.
When it came to finding a job, students often visited job boards on company websites (76 per cent) or asked family and friends for available positions at their place of work (61 per cent). More than half of students also sought advice from their guidance counsellors, while 25 per cent of students worked with recruiters.
Paul Wolfe, senior vice-president of HR at Indeed, told Global News that it’s important for people in this generation to understand the job search process.
“Even seasoned professionals are continuing to develop their job search skills — for many people, job searching is a regular activity,” he said.
“Like any activity, you’ll get better with practice. This is why I always advise people to continue to look around in the marketplace for any new opportunities that might be interesting.”
But the initial process of finding a job can be tedious. It can be hard to land a full-time, high-paying and challenging job out of school for any generation. But Wolfe said things are changing.
“A recent Indeed report found that those nervous about entering the world of work can take some comfort in that university grads from earlier years appear to be doing pretty well in today’s labour market, even though some may have gotten off to a slow start,” he explained.
“Depending on a student’s career path, it can be beneficial to begin the job application or job search process at the start of their final semester in school — or even earlier.”
Trends that stick out
Experts are already seeing patterns with the types of jobs gen Z navigates towards when they enter the workforce.
“They are highly entrepreneurial and may opt out of working for others,” Seemiller said. “This could create an employee deficit if enough of them don’t work in established organizations.”
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But Wolfe added that because a majority of gen-Zers grew up in the recession, job stability became a norm for this age group.
“In our research, we definitely see a strong showing for engineering, tech and finance jobs — strong career choices for people who seek security as both fields suffer serious talent shortages,” he said.
Research also shows this generation would choose jobs they are passionate about over jobs that provide a lot of money.
“Given this, employers who are beginning to welcome gen-Z candidates to their teams should be prepared to provide talent with mentorship, training and transparent career trajectory to attract and retain these employees.”
Tips for finding a job
Interpersonal skills are critical in nearly any job, but gen-Zers should focus on honing those skills and then showcasing them to employers, Seemiller said.
“Employers are also looking to hire people with critical thinking and problem-solving skills so that individuals can independently figure things out and solve their own issues,” he explained. “Again, finding ways to both develop these skill sets, as well as highlight proficiency in them, could be the key piece for getting the job.”
Wolfe said it’s best to optimize your efforts online.
“Automate the front end of the job search process (identifying jobs that interest you) as much as possible. Do this by setting up job alerts on job search sites such as Indeed. Use specific keywords from the job descriptions, job titles and company names you’re targeting,” he said.
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Also, read each job description carefully.
“Today, most employers use an applicant tracking system (ATS) — a software that allows for automated sorting of applications based on specific keywords, including skills, years of experience, training or schools attended,” Wolfe explained. “As soon as you click ‘submit,’ your application is evaluated based on the job description keywords then ranked alongside other candidates in the company’s database.”
Always consider whether you have the qualifications a job description is calling for before you apply, he added.
And as always, do your research.
“You can also follow the company’s CEO or other leadership on social media. This is a great way to stay up to date on what’s happening within the company and what matters to this organization,” Wolfe said.