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By the year 2030, the number of Gen Z employees globally is expected to triple, meaning that those born between 1995 and 2015 will soon make up as much as 30 percent of the workforce worldwide.

With increasing numbers of Gen Z joining the workforce, it is inevitable that they will play a vital role in shaping the world of work for decades to come. But the question remains around how this generation will change the fabric of workplaces – as this cohort will bring their own vision of what the new world of work should look like.

LinkedIn data shows that those early in their careers are changing jobs nearly 40 percent more than last year, at more than double the rate of millennials. Just under three-quarters of these career starters attribute this to a career awakening, primarily brought about by the pandemic – with many reporting feeling bored, wanting a job that better aligns with their values, and craving a better work-life balance.

This leaves employers and recruiters with a new challenge: how can they attract and retain this younger generation of workers in an increasingly competitive labor market?

Gen Z wants flexibility, not necessarily remote

It’s clear that to attract Gen Z talent, recruiters will need to understand what matters to them. The pandemic has clearly taught us that flexibility at work is not just a daydream – it’s an expectation. According to our data, Gen Z is the generation most likely to have left – or considered leaving – a job because their employer didn’t offer a feasible flexible work policy (72%), compared to 69% of millennials, 53% of Gen X, and 59% of boomers.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean that career starters wish to be remote all of the time. Our research of 4,000 Gen Z (18–25-year-old) career starters in the UK, US, France, and Germany suggests that the vast majority (70%) want access to an office, preferring either a mix of office and remote working, or being in the office full-time, compared to just being fully remote.

For recruiters, the key takeaway here is the importance of flexible working arrangements. That means recognizing the realities of people’s personal situations, including that they may not have an ideal set-up to work from home full-time. Offering flexibility isn’t just essential in attracting and retaining Gen Z talent, but it also represents a huge opportunity to make workplaces fairer, more inclusive, and more equitable. For example, our recent report found greater workplace flexibility could help open up new employment opportunities for 1.3 million people in the UK with disabilities, caring responsibilities, and those based in rural locations.

Create a culture of continuous learning

People aren’t just rethinking when, or where they work. But also why. Our recent Workplace Learning Report found that 76% of Gen Z employees cite learning as the key to a successful career. Our data also suggests that two-fifths would be willing to accept a pay cut of up to 5% of their salary for a role that offers better career growth.

To attract Gen Z talent, companies can promote a culture of continuous learning and highlight the opportunities they’ll provide for career growth. Whether you’re facilitating mentorship opportunities or providing access to learning courses, all of these steps will go a long way to attracting and retaining those at the earliest stages of their careers.

Remove the barriers of experience inflation

Recruiters have a crucial role to play in helping their clients to advertise entry-level job roles appropriately. If you’re hiring at the entry-level, you need to ensure that your job postings are reflective of the level of experience career starters will have under their belt.

Our data found that nearly a third of Gen Z job seekers say that the biggest hindrance they face is not knowing where to start. This is because more often than not, organizations label positions requiring three-plus years of experience as entry-level. This experience inflation is locking top talent out of applying for roles that they perceive themselves to be underqualified for. For example, based on our analysis of LinkedIn data from nearly 4 million jobs posted between December 2017 and August 2021, we found that employers required a minimum of three years of relevant work experience on 35% of their entry-level postings.

It may seem advantageous to have experienced employees coming in at the entry-level, but companies could end up losing out on top talent in the long term. With Gen Z candidates becoming increasingly selective about the roles they apply for, it’s more important than ever for recruiters to be well-versed in an organization’s purpose, culture, and what makes it stand out. Job postings will not only need to reflect entry-level skills and organizational values, but they will also need to take a skills-based approach to ensure potential candidates aren’t being locked out of these opportunities.

By Adam Hawkins, Head of Search and Staffing EMEA & LATAM, LinkedIn.

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