(Gen)erating interest in your employer brand(Z)
Much has already been written about the latest generation to enter today's workplace. A group whose generational signposts* include: the launch of Google, the publication of the first Harry Potter book, the first same-sex marriage in the Netherlands, an Iraqi invasion, the introduction of Facebook/YouTube/Instagram/Snapchat to society as a whole, the election of two US presidents worlds apart and where our global population reached 7 billion. A period where we took great leaps forward (and others back behind where we'd reached...), more ups and downs than a roller coaster, with great ambiguity and unrest. In some ways it's no surprise that the resulting generation entering our workplaces today feel they have a lot to prove and have set their expectations high in terms of what they expect from the world of work.
So where does this leave employer branding professionals, when trying to attract Gen Z to 'purchase' whatever we may be 'selling', in a careers landscape where so much is changing, and where there are such huge gaps in knowledge in understanding and experience among school leavers, and their influencers? Time and time again, authenticity is cited by Gen Z as a key driver behind why they are attracted to, and stay loyal, to brands. For me, what's been most interesting working in employer branding for the last 7 years has been an evolution in approach, away from 'company first' towards 'candidate first' - instead of asking 'why do you want to work for me?' we need to ask 'what can we do to help you understand us better?'. Here I share 5 ways in which I think we can all take steps to build more authentic employer brands which are honest and empower Gen Z to make informed choices about the best way to start their careers.
#1 Do your research: There is so much information already out there about Gen Z that is useful to held build your attraction strategies but we should always take the time to sense check those candidates we are already talking, or indeed those we have already attracted. I am a firm believer in audience insights and they value they add to creating an authentic employer brand. Have you considered running some focus groups with your apprentices and graduates? Posting surveys to those you are currently converting into applicants? There is a powerful message lying behind an employer who asks 'what more can I do for you' that resonates with a candidate. This generation cares, and so should you.
#2 Quench their thirst for knowledge: Don't forget that this is the generation that has grown up with knowledge literally at their finger tips. Gone are the days of loading up a shared PC in the family home, dialing up to connect to the internet, and inserting Encarta (was that just me!?) and here are the days where we are a swipe and a tap away from whatever our heart desires. Use this thirst, and the technology available to educate and empower Gen Z. Have you tried Facebook Live to interview your people at events you are hosting or attending? How about Instagram Stories for a 'Day in the Life' feature for example.
#3 Help them to 'find their fit': If I've learnt one thing in the last few years it's that school leavers like to talk, and they like to talk to our people. They want first-hand stories to understand more about the roles they are thinking of applying to, and to work out whether it's something their strengths and passions align to. No brochure or website can do that. Focus on ways in which you can connect your people directly to your audience.
#4 Be where they are, and add value: An audience that lives as much time as Gen Z do online expects you to be there too. Your digital attraction strategy needs to take this into account and also in a word with so much 'noise' and fake news, needs to add value. What tools, advice can your content strategy focus on that stands out from the crowd and is valuable to those you are trying to attract?
#5 Engage with their parents: Parents are the No.1 influencer of school leavers in particular and they expect them to have an influence. However, recent research conducted by EY found that over half of parents lack confidence in giving careers advice to their children in fear of giving the wrong advice. Make parents part of your attraction strategy.
At the end of the day we're all on the same journey, in a world that's changing just as fast as our strategies. Have some fun, and enjoy the journey together.
*'generational signposts' refer to personal or shared experiences in our lives that significantly contribute to who we are ('Generations Inc. From Boomers to Linksters - Managing the Friction between Generations at Work', Johnson & Johnson)
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