If you’re older than 25, you’ll still clearly remember the days when recruitment success came down to your application form and interview performance.
The hours spent honing your CV were worth it because that carefully crafted document could open doors. Your professional presentation was all that mattered. But slowly but surely, the hiring process has changed. While the internet has opened a world of employment possibilities, social media has put personal performance as well as your personality under the spotlight. And Gen Z are the ground breakers, traversing this unknown territory, where what you do online is as important – if not more so – as what you put down on paper when you’re looking for work.
How is social media changing recruitment practices?
You don’t have to dig too deep into media archives to unearth a story about someone getting into trouble for what they’ve written online. From the high profile cases, like Katie Hopkins and Piers Morgan, to academics voicing highly controversial opinions. The fact that jobs have been lost due to online activity is no great secret. But the degree to which employers are using social media to assess prospective employees is advancing rapidly. In 2018, the Career Builder survey reported that 70% of employers had used social media to screen applicants. And it’s a trend that has continued to grow.
At first it was controversial to look at someone’s social media when screening them, wasn’t that a bit intrusive? Was it any of your business? The truth is hiring good talent is hard, getting a good cultural fit is even harder. Social media is a two-way opportunity for both employers and prospective employees – a chance to see behind the curtain a little and know if it’s a good fit.
While CVs still play an integral role in revealing your professional acumen, social media has the power to reveal your personality traits. And help managers assess whether individuals are likely to be compatible with their team, and their company culture. To be clear, what an employer is looking for depends on the nature of that employer – so don’t assume this means they want to see a very well behaved, curated and overly professional persona, in truth it’s often the opposite. We want to see you.
When there is no obvious red line between professional and personal, social media evolves from a place of pure entertainment, to become a personal PR platform.
What does a Gen Z employee really look like for SMEs?
In the next few years, Gen Z will be making their mark in businesses across the world. And they are children of the technological age. Most will have never known life before the smartphone. And social media will be part of their DNA. For businesses, this means the dawn of a whole new way of working.
Risk-averse, competitive – freed from the participation awards foisted upon Millennials – open-minded, and frighteningly well-versed in technology, analytics, and data, according to a survey from Accenture, Gen Z is looking for stability, and security. While McKinsey reveals a need for authenticity, and a distrust of the fake. They are used to having the world’s information at their fingertips – and tend to make their own opinions based on their own research.
It can be easy to roll your eyes at this new generation, but write them off at your peril.
What is the value of investing in a Gen-Z workforce?
Fresh perspectives, fresh skills, and fresh enthusiasm seem to be the primary draw of the new generation. An ability to manipulate technology is always going to be beneficial. But the drive for transparency and authenticity also carries advantages. With the potential to feed brand differentiation and push value-driven policies, Gen Z employees bring cultural value as well as technical skills.
How to manage and maintain a healthy workplace culture when there is a clash between younger and older employees
Culture change is always problematic, and there’s plenty of scope for conflict when younger and older generations collide. In most instances, team members will be happy to welcome new talent. But where there are sticking points, it’s important to foster open communication and encourage both sides to – politely – express their views. Problems need to be acknowledged and appreciated, according to leading expert on generational change management, Haydn Shaw. With an emphasis on flexibility and leveraging the skills of all parties.
In some respects, Generation Z is like every other generation that has come before it. It has its own perspectives, new ways of doing things, and opinions that may jar with the established workforce. But its members also bring benefits, both cultural and practical, to the workplace. And they’re not going anywhere. So, with embracing change being the only way forward, it’s time to prepare your business for the next generation.