A Guide to Recruiting Gen Z Developers

Millennials have been a hot topic of discussion for a long time in the workforce. However, studies suggest that Gen Z will make up 24% of the workforce in 2020. As millennials inch closer to middle age, Gen Z is expected to quickly fill the recruiting pipeline.

Born between 1996 to 2001, Gen Z-ers are true digital natives; they have always been exposed to the internet, advanced tech, smartphones, social media, and virtual reality. What this generation looks for in a job and a working lifestyle is significantly different from the generations that came before them. Hence, the same recruitment strategies are not going to work when recruiting and retaining Gen Z developers.

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Here’s a guide that will help companies catch the attention of Gen Z or early-talent developers. Read on to find out how you can attract, hire, and retain this generation.

1. Gen Z-ers are tech-savvy. What does this mean for you? 

Build an online presence: According to a Global Web Index report, Gen Z spends more time on social media than millennials, at 2 hours 55 minutes per day. Gen Z-ers not only use social media to connect with people but also to engage with their favorite companies, access new career tools, and stay up-to-date with global events. Hence, it is imperative for businesses to build an online presence to promote your company and culture using eye-catching ads, videos, anecdotes, photos, and hashtags(Recruiting).

Create a seamless digital candidate experience: Gen Z candidates are very selective. For employers, this means creating a seamless digital candidate experience for attracting top early-talent developers and creating a positive brand recall with this generation in the long-term. This is where pre-employment assessment tools come into play. As an employer, you can leverage these tools to:

  • Let candidates code from anywhere in an environment of their choice. They do not need to travel long distances to give interviews, code on whiteboards, or get rejected based on a phone conversation during the screening process.
  • Conduct unbiased interviews. This means that all the candidates are asked the same set of questions and interviewers do not know the specifics of each candidate such as gender, age, ethnicity, etc. This assures the candidate that the hiring decision will be fair and they will be benchmarked based on merit.
  • Invest in the latest and most cutting edge tools. Most hiring managers and senior recruiters tend to be veterans in the industry that might be used to traditional assessment methods which have worked great in the past. However, according to The 2020 HackerEarth Developer Survey, only 19% of all developers prefer traditional whiteboard interviews and that was before COVID-19. Companies must update their recruitment methods to keep up with industry trends. 

Know where to look for them: As stated earlier, Gen Z talent spends a lot of time surfing the internet, and they’re looking for jobs in new places. In fact, according to The 2020 HackerEarth Developer Survey, 56% of student developers use LinkedIn more frequently than any other channel when looking for a new job. If signing up for paid services is not an option, the following are a few resources that you can tap into to hire quality Gen Z candidates:

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  • LinkedIn
  • GitHub
  • Stack Overflow
  • Reddit
  • Quora
  • Glassdoor
  • Hackathons

2. Gen Z has an entrepreneurial mindset, driven by security. What does this mean for you?

Adopt an open mindset: Gen Z-ers grew up in a digital world where online tutorials and self-learning were de rigueur. They know that paying exorbitant tuition fees for in-person classes is not the only way to upskill themselves. Hence, as an employer, you need to have a more open mindset toward learning and consider new ways to evaluate the skills of candidates. Think — does your new position really require a university degree? Focus on skills more than pedigree and provide plenty of upskilling opportunities to keep this generation engaged(Recruiting).

Emphasize job security: Growing up during the Great Recession and coming of age during COVID-19, it’s not surprising that Gen Z wants and needs more job security. This generation is also more likely to have a side job to diversify their income. This means that, as an employer, you need to:

  • Provide benefits that include the appropriate pay and the best health care benefits that you can obtain.
  • Support allowing them to have other sources of income apart from work if possible.
  • Raise the bar; ask them to lead a technical project without micromanaging. However, communicate that you are available if they need anything.

Focus on learning and growth opportunities: Studies reveal that 40% of Gen Z professionals are staying in their current role due to opportunities to learn and grow. Additionally, according to The 2020 HackerEarth Developer Survey, the top must-have benefit for student developers was a good career path. Hence, showing your company is invested in learning and development is a good way to win them over. This can be in the form of weekly challenges created through employee training tools. Most Gen Z candidates proactively look out for a chance to learn as much as they possibly can, and upskilling opportunities will surely amplify retention(Recruiting).

3. Gen Z is more informed about bias than you think. What does this mean for you? 

Highlight and promote your diversity and inclusion efforts: Gen Z has grown up in a society shaped by discussions around diversity and inclusion, technology, gender equality, and much more. In fact, The 2020 HackerEarth Developer Survey highlights that fully 25% of student developers list diversity at work as a must-have benefit. They are much more informed about bias than those before them. Here are a few examples:

  • Highlight your organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion on your career site.
  • Include a note about it in every job description.
  • If your company organizes events and activities that celebrate employee differences, ensure that you let the world know about them.
  • If you have a blog series that focuses on diversity and inclusion in tech, make noise on social media.
  • You can feature quotes and photos of diverse people on your printed and online company materials. Make sure to include your own employees and customers. Positive branding like this could mean great and diverse hires for your organization.

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Hiring for the Future

It might seem like recruiting Gen Z is akin to threading a fine needle with one eye shut. It’s hard work, sure, but with huge payoffs. Every generation builds on the knowledge of their predecessors, and as a workforce, the Gen Z-ers have an immense knowledge and skill base. The crux to hiring and retaining this demographic lies in understanding the values they adhere to, and providing them a workplace which upholds the same.