How to hire digital natives in tech

When it comes to Gen Z, a report from tech recruiting firm Dice finds, don't treat them like millennials.

The 10 most in-demand jobs for Gen Z workers The majority of Gen Zers hope to work in the tech industry, especially for IBM, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Salesforce, according to Glassdoor.

For HR and talent acquisition staff, there is no rest for the weary. A lot of attention has been paid to figuring out what millennials want in a job – but now they've grown up and it's time to focus on their successor: Generation Z.  

There are about 72 million Gen Z-ers, and by 2020, it is estimated they will make up 24% of the global workforce, according to tech recruiting firm Dice

As the first true digital natives and most technologically advanced generation to date, this group will be highly disruptive in the workforce "because Gen Z barely knows life without computers," Dice notes.

(Just so you're clear on their ages, a millennial refers to anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 23 to 38 in 2019), and anyone born from 1997 onward is part of Gen Z (or post-millennial), according to the Pew Research Center.)

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They've had more experience with cellphones than landlines, they listen to music mainly on handheld devices, and they expect instant gratification because they are used to having nearly anything needed delivered to their doors, according to the Dice report, "Hiring Gen Z." 

So when it comes to hiring them, there are a few things to know, Dice says: 

  • 47% consider themselves experts in something; 

  • 56% think onboarding should take a day or less; 

  • 74% think work should have a greater purpose than earning a salary;

  • 93% say a company's impact on society affects their decision to work there.

Members of Gen Z cannot recall a time before smartphones, so they prefer to communicate via texting over phone calls or sending emails. This generation is most prolific in using mobile technology, and companies should embrace this, Dice suggests. 

Best practices for hiring, retaining and managing Gen Z tech workers

Gen Z technologists tend to stay current with the latest technologies and can be a real boon to teams even though they are newer to the profession, observes Art Zeile, CEO of DHI Group, parent of Dice. 

"They arrive in new jobs ready to make an impact," Zeile says. "We do see that Gen Z workers tend to be more independent than millennials, who are more accustomed to working in teams." By comparison, he adds that "millennials are focused more on moving up the corporate ladder, so establishing a career path for them is paramount."

Another difference between Gen Z and millennials is the latter are also most likely to move for a new job – on their own dime.

At the same time, not all millennials are interested in working remotely, having grown up in collaborative school groups and projects, says Jim Johnson, a senior vice president at recruiting firm Robert Half.

"Knowing that younger workers may have over five careers in their lifetime, much less five jobs, it's important for companies to attract workers with jobs that can offer flexibility and growth," Johnson says.

Yet, hiring technologists remains a challenge regardless of age, due to the increasing need for in-demand skills. As with any highly technical profession, it can also be grating to sift through mountains of resumes looking for candidates with the necessary skill sets, certificates and experience, Zeile says. 

"However, as with hiring in any industry, determining what is most impactful for technologists is crucial,'' he adds. "Staying up-to-date with their desires and needs is key in order to find the perfect pairing between employee and employer."

For example, 85% of technologists say it is important to find creativity in their work, according to the Dice report. "Technologists are problem-solvers at heart, so fueling their ability to approach problems with creativity and freedom goes a long way toward their job satisfaction," Zeile advises.

He cautions that when looking for tech candidates, "it's a misnomer that hiring slows in Q4; it's a missed opportunity to not search for jobs during the end of the year as that's when many companies are looking to hire, revving up for the year ahead. In fact, on Dice, we see a substantial increase in job postings in October, continuing through November and even into early December." 
 
Some other tips are to make sure your website and career landing pages are mobile-friendly; present feedback often and in real time; provide a flexible work environment; and infuse a sense of community and feel for social issues in your messaging.

 "Gen Z rejects the treatment of its predecessors and demands more from potential employers," the Dice report notes. "Gen Z is nothing like the millennials – and should not be treated as such. Their approach to work is more pragmatic and cautious than it is idealistic."

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