Hiring Gen Z: Talent Attraction and Retention Strategies

Hiring Gen Z is essential to surviving in this talent market. In this photo, a multiracial, multiethnic, and gender-diverse group of Gen Z professionals sit around a conference table in business casual attire. Some of the Gen Z workers are using laptops. Other Gen Z employees are looking at others’ laptop displays. The room has white walls, a corkboard with sticky notes, a leafy plant in the corner, and diffuse bright light. The conference table is cluttered with coffee mugs, notebooks, writing utensils, and various documents.

You know the story: The skills gap is cavernous. The Great Resignation is here. Baby boomers are retiring at record pace. The employment climate is changing too quickly, and you have jobs to fill — you need to adapt. But how?

First, know it’s not just you. Organizations across industries and around the globe are confronting these issues and more. As Industry 4.0 technologies change how businesses operate, employers are seeking candidates who have strong digital skills, including the ability to quickly and easily learn to use new technology and aptitude for data and analytics.

Meanwhile, major demographic shifts are occurring within the talent market. Through 2030, 10,000 baby boomers will reach retirement age every day, leaving a plenitude of open positions in their wake.1 Worse, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this phenomenon, with more than 2.4 million early retirements as of fall 2021.2

Of course, ability to use technology or learn new skills is not limited by membership to a specific generation. However, this combination of trends has many employers wondering about hiring Gen Z, also known as Generation Z.

Who Is Gen Z?

The most recent generation to join the workforce, Gen Z consists of people who were born from 1997 through 2010.3 Gen Zers grew up knowing the ubiquity of the internet, smartphones, and social media, so expected fluency with technology is one reason many employers consider them to be desirable as candidates.

Another reason organizations are hiring Gen Z? Gen Zers make up a substantial and growing portion of the talent market. In 2021, 24% of the global workforce were members of Gen Z.4 By 2030, Gen Zers are expected to account for nearly one-third of all workers.4

Although they were expected to come of age with good employment prospects, Gen Zers instead have begun to launch their careers during a global crisis.5,6 While human resources and talent acquisition professionals have been lamenting the Great Resignation and the retirement boom, the effects the pandemic has had on the employment market have disproportionately affected Gen Z. Between March 2020 and April 2021, Gen Z experienced 79% more layoffs and 73% more furloughs compared to the rest of the workforce.6 In other words, they’re open to work.

Building trust will be essential to hiring Gen Z. So, what kind of measures can you take to attract Gen Z job candidates and, more importantly, retain them?

Prioritize Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Gen Z is the most racially, ethnically, and gender diverse generation in history, and its members are more likely than any previous generation to expect organizations to have diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DE&I, programs in place.5 In fact, 99% of Gen Z workers consider workplace DE&I to be important,7 and they won’t necessarily wait for you to hire them before they evaluate your organization’s efforts.

If your DE&I initiatives are insufficient or nonexistent, your leadership team appears homogenous, or your brand doesn’t appear to celebrate diversity, Gen Z job seekers might not even apply in the first place. Concerns about not being accepted due to race, sexual orientation, or gender identity have stopped 37% of Gen Z job seekers from applying for a job, and one in five say they’ve elected not to apply for a job because of concern about the hiring organization’s ability to accommodate neurodivergent individuals.7

While no perfect solution exists, a simple starting point does: talent management. If your talent acquisition strategy relies solely on human judgment, you could be missing out on qualified candidates due to unconscious bias. Using scientifically validated personality tests, hiring managers can evaluate candidates objectively to make the hiring process more equitable. Personality can also be used to develop leaders who will promote diversity and inclusion efforts, which is important for creating lasting cultural change.

Look Beyond Hard Skills in Hiring Gen Z

Gen Z workers are just starting out in their careers. Although many already have acquired some experience, don’t limit your consideration of their candidacy to technical skills. The pandemic has been a formative event for this generation, interrupting their education, their transition to the professional world, and more. They’re likely to bring a unique style of emotional intelligence to their work, but they might need and even expect flexibility in finding a role that is both motivating and fulfilling.8

Gen Zers understand professional success depends on qualities such as curiosity and willingness to take on new challenges, and 81% believe it’s important to develop relationships with potential employers even when an open position isn’t available — an increase from 22% before the pandemic.9,10 A 2019 report by Deloitte and the Network of Executive Women concluded that one of the best ways for employers to attract Gen Z is to select smart, talented people, and then figure out how they align with the organization’s objectives.11 Other strategies some businesses are taking include establishing an internal talent marketplace or job rotation program.12

Well-validated personality tests can facilitate any of these approaches (and mitigate risk) by giving hiring managers detailed insights about candidates’ so-called soft skills. The Hogan Personality Inventory, for example, can predict how a candidate is likely to behave at work on an everyday basis. Its data offer nuanced information about adaptability, interpersonal style, learning approach, and more. As another example, the Hogan Development Survey can show how candidates are likely to derail if they cease to self-manage during times of stress or pressure. This kind of intel can help you ensure people are matched with roles and projects that suit them.

Offer Professional Development Opportunities

In this competitive hiring market, refining your talent development programs might be the last thing on your mind, with talent acquisition taking precedence for obvious reasons. But don’t underestimate the power of development opportunities when it comes to attracting Gen Z talent. Opportunities for development are a key factor Gen Z candidates consider while job hunting, and they’re critical to provide if hiring Gen Z is an objective for your organization. In fact, 76% of these candidates see learning opportunities as a must-have.13

To make your organization more attractive to this population of job seekers, consider investing in talent development initiatives. These might include mentorships with more experienced employees (which could be reciprocal or “reverse” mentorships), coaching, or personalized development plans supported by personality data. It’ll pay off — more than one-third of Gen Zers expect to stay at their first job for at least four years.10

Define Your Organization’s Values

As you might assume, many Gen Zers care about your business’s social and environmental impact, and they want you to care too. In a 2021 Deloitte survey, 49% said their personal ethics inform the type of work they’re willing to do, and 59% said they believe businesses have no ambition beyond wanting to make money.”14

Gen Zers fear being stuck doing work that doesn’t feel fulfilling, and they want to work in environments where the organizational culture reflects their personal values.15 If you’re interested in hiring Gen Z workers, it’s crucial to know what motivates your employees and how those motivations shape your organizational culture. After all, what drives your employees is what drives your business.

At Hogan, for example, every employee has completed our three core personality assessments. This includes the Motives, Values, Preferences Inventory, which sheds light on the types of jobs and working environments people will find most satisfying. Although we’re a diverse bunch, our collective personality results show that most of us share one key value: altruism. Given that our business’s core purpose is to help people and organizations succeed using data-driven talent insights, and that our company was founded on social justice principles, our shared desire to help others is fundamental to both our organizational success and our employees’ personal fulfillment. Perhaps we can help you sometime?


  1. U.S. Census Bureau. (2019, December 10). 2020 Census Will Help Policymakers Prepare for the Incoming Wave of Aging Boomers [Press release]. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/12/by-2030-all-baby-boomers-will-be-age-65-or-older.html
  2. Faria e Castro, M. (2021, October 15). The COVID Retirement Boom. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Economic Research. https://research.stlouisfed.org/publications/economic-synopses/2021/10/15/the-covid-retirement-boom
  3. Dimock, M. (2019, January 17). Defining Generations: Where Millennials End and Generation Z Begins. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/01/17/where-millennials-end-and-generation-z-begins/
  4. Fuscaldo, D. (2021, December 1). Managing Gen Z in the Workplace. Business News Daily. https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/15873-managing-gen-z.html
  5. Parker, K., & Igielnik, R. (2020, May 14). On the Cusp of Adulthood and Facing an Uncertain Future: What We Know About Gen Z So Far. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2020/05/14/on-the-cusp-of-adulthood-and-facing-an-uncertain-future-what-we-know-about-gen-z-so-far-2/  
  6. Pardue, L. (2021, April 30). Class of 2021 Job Prospects in the COVID Economy. Gusto. https://gusto.com/company-news/class-of-2021-job-prospects-in-the-covid-economy?utm_source=org_tw&utm_medium=social
  7. What Companies Need to Know About Gen Z’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Expectations. (2021, July 12). Tallo.  https://tallo.com/blog/gen-z-workplace-diversity-equity-inclusion/
  8. Stiller Rikleen, L. (2020, June 3). What Your Youngest Employees Need Most Right Now. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2020/06/what-your-youngest-employees-need-most-right-now 
  9. EY. (2018, September 28). Failure Drives Innovation, According to EY Survey on Gen Z [Press release]. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/failure-drives-innovation-according-to-ey-survey-on-gen-z-300714436.html 
  10. Perna, M. C. (2020, October 14). Recruiting Top Gen Z Talent in a Post-Pandemic World. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/markcperna/2020/10/14/recruiting-top-gen-z-talent-in-a-post-pandemic-world/?sh=779ff10c7db6
  11. Gomez, K., Mawhinney, T., & Betts, K. (2019). Welcome to Generation Z. Deloitte. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/consumer-business/welcome-to-gen-z.pdf
  12. Horovitz, B. (2021, January 13). 10 Tips for Hiring — and Retaining Gen Z Employees. SHRM. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/10-tips-for-hiring-and-retaining-gen-z-employees.aspx
  13. Van Nuys, A. (2021). Workplace Learning Report 2021: Skill Building in the New World of Work. LinkedIn Learning. https://learning.linkedin.com/content/dam/me/business/en-us/amp/learning-solutions/images/wlr21/pdf/LinkedIn-Learning_Workplace-Learning-Report-2021-EN-1.pdf
  14. A Call for Accountability and Action: The Deloitte Global 2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey. (2021). Deloitte. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/2021-deloitte-global-millennial-survey-report.pdf
  15. Four Ways to Retain Gen Z at Work. (2021, July 22). McCrindle. https://mccrindle.com.au/insights/blog/four-ways-to-retain-gen-z-at-work/