Unemployment rates in the past few months have reached astronomical numbers: it’s currently at 11.1% nationwide.
At the same time, the Class of 2020, robbed of the last couple months of their college experience and their graduation ceremonies, is just beginning their job search.
They are competing with experts in their fields of interest who had just gotten laid off and have decades of experience. “Entry level” jobs are often requiring a minimum of two years of experience to even be considered.
While I grant that displaced workers need somewhere to land, we also should consider how are these recent graduates (with little experience and loads of tuition debt) supposed to launch?
There’s a myth about Gen Z. “They’re lazy, entitled. They don’t want to work and don’t know how to work.”
I’ll grant you, there are the Gen Z’ers out there who are like that.
Just like there are boomers who are overly sensitive.
Just like there are Gen X’ers who are negative cynics.
But, believe it or not, the majority of Gen Z’ers are determined, passionate, and talented people.
I know this because the majority of my team is comprised of them (with a couple millennials thrown in there.)
And let me tell you, the fresh perspectives my Gen Z’ers bring to the table at my company are unique and invaluable.
Gen Z has passion. And it’s not fabricated passion, it’s genuine passion. When they’re passionate about what they’re working on, they work like no one’s business. They tend to naturally apply their passions to the work you give them, which leads to amazing results that you didn’t even have in mind when you gave them the project.
For example, I’d grown bored of blogging. It was painful for me. I got so tired of writing blogs on how to write a book. I mean how many ways can you say the same thing over and over?
I consulted my Social Media Maven, Maya Hoffman, 22 years old and a fresh graduate from Mount Holyoke College, and shared with her my dilemma.
She challenged my belief that I needed to just blog about writing advice. She cut through my limiting belief (shredded it really) when she pointed out that I can write on topics that I’m passionate about, such as social justice and environmentalism, because they tie into the publishing industry in many complex and fascinating ways.
Truth! I now relish the opportunity to blog, and I see how it gives me a platform to share my unique perspectives on what is happening in the world today looking through the lens of publishing.
I needed her Gen Z point-of-view to help me get out of my own way.
The job market and businesses need to stop actively devaluing the wisdom of Gen Z’ers in favor of older generation’s wisdom. Businesses are getting in their own way by doing that.
Gen Z has perspective beyond just consumerism. They already have an ingrained sense of duty, having inherited the world that Gen X and Boomers left them.
They’re invested in shaping who we are going to be as a society and people. So, every project they pick up is always motivated by a bigger picture. They don’t work for themselves; they work for others and beyond themselves.
Gen Z is purpose oriented and adaptable.
Not to mention, they’re digital natives.
Every Gen Z’er might as well have majored in technology in college because they can work their way around every piece of technology and learn any new program in a fraction of the time it takes any other generation.
They are the first generation to grow up with technology. Even millennials had to grow into technology.
For example, I would never know the extent of capabilities that Excel has if it weren’t for my Chief Operations Officer, Asia Small, also 22 years old and working toward her MBA at Stetson University. She showed me that Excel is alive! That we can create an active progress bar that we can use to show each of our clients where they are in their process.
Another one of my Gen Z team, my executive assistant, Aubrey Polliard (University of Denver, 2020), is the FIRST to help me figure out how to locate and populate Accounts Receivable in my QuickBooks. (Before you judge me for not knowing how to do that, realize that I’ve gone through 3 bookkeepers who couldn’t do it, and QuickBooks customer support couldn’t tell us how to do it either.)
Business is already interwoven with tech, but by the end of the decade, it will be tech driven. Gen Z employees are the portal to tech and adaptability in your business, guaranteed.
And I’m not just talking about STEM students. I’m talking about any and all Gen Z’ers.
Honestly, I would rather have a Gen Z’er than any other age group as an employee at my company. Why? Well, all the reasons I’ve already mentioned, but also, it’s much harder to train someone out of bad habits than it is to train good ones. Gen Z’ers are just entering the job market and they are eager, blank slates with inherently strong work habits as is.
If I had to use six phrases to describe a Gen Z employee, it would be:
3. Committed to the bigger vision
5. More informed than any previous generation
6. The cheapest they’ll ever be
So, don’t miss out on your chance to hire them now.
For you recruiters out there reviewing hundreds of job applications that got dropped on your lap mere hours after posting the job you’re hiring for, all I’ve got to say to you is that I hope you give a little extra consideration to those people with class of 2020 on their CV.
Those people are people worth listening to, and in the rapidly changing environment of business, they are the one’s that will keep your company current, open, and thriving.
Trust me on that.