When you think of the value of your brand, the common response is immediately to think about how well known you are to your customers in your particular sector and their experience of your brand be that receiving literature, looking at your website, visiting a store or your office… But what about when it comes to recruiting new staff? Do you pay as much attention to their experience of your brand or do you think it an unnecessary distraction and poor use of time and money

It is said that in order to gain buy in from staff about the company that they work for, service organisations need to spend a minimum of a third of their marketing budget on internal marketing to ensure staff are aware and constantly reminded of the brand values of the company they represent. The findings of Dartmouth Partners “The Gen Z Hiring Report” certainly seem to reinforce the importance of also getting the employee journey – or rather the future employee journey right.

The report focuses on “Gen Z” – those born between c1995-2012 and looks at the way in which they approach applying for their first job and reveals some surprising findings which companies would do well to bear in mind and which apply to companies of all sizes and industries, although the focus concentrates on the financial services sector due to the market specialism of Dartmouth Partners. Their survey concentrated specifically graduates targeting working within financial services but the respondents were from a variety of academic backgrounds and at different stages of their job seeking with a total of almost 600 responses.

News reports and articles often cite the lack of talent available to companies today so it seems obvious that those who succeed in engaging with candidates as early as possible and who are able to keep them engaged during the process will have a greater success rate in securing the hire of their graduate of choice.

Companies can often overlook, or simply forget, that recruitment is very much a two way process tending to think that all candidates will accept any offer of employment that they might choose to make. Why wouldn’t they – after all, the organisation is bound to be the employer of choice, right?

In today’s connected world, Gen Z operate in the “now” – information is available 24/7 via the internet and not only is it available 24/7, but it is also available immediately on hitting enter on their computer or smart phone. It is therefore more important than ever to connect early and keep them informed and updated during the process. Gone are the days when job seekers are happy to be left wondering if they are going to be offered an interview while you sift through application after application. 44% of Dartmouth Partners survey respondents expected an update on their application within 1 to 2 weeks and a further 45% expected the process to be completed within 1 to 2 months. They are often left feeling frustrated at what they consider to be an unduly long time to get back to them and are now more demanding of future employers than previous generations: “It really frustrated me how unresponsive or slowly some HR respond. If a candidate is asked to complete a stage in a select number of days, then HR should abide by the same rule” .

It’s time for HR departments to up their game – Gen Z candidates expect a high-touch and efficient recruitment process that is quick, streamlined and transparent at every stage.

Another myth that appears to be dispelled by the responses to the survey is that Gen Z are all in it for the short term – it’s all about the money and they will jump ship as soon as a better offer comes along. Not entirely the case… undoubtedly salary is important – 43% of graduates were expecting a minimum starting salary of an eye watering £45k+ when working in London – but perhaps surprisingly, graduates ranked career progression and the importance of early training and brand almost as important and more important than location and salary. They are also looking for a good fit culturally as they are anticipating remaining in their first post for between 3-5 years.

Employers need to recognise this shift in mindset for both Gen Z graduates and Millenials who are now making up a greater part of the workforce. Both now place a greater emphasis on the value of work-life balance and are driven by values other than simply financial success. They often have a social conscience and want to make a difference. Coupled with the widely acknowledged understanding that there is now no ‘job for life’ which doesn’t appear to unduly faze them, Gen Z are prepared to not only decline a position if they don’t feel it is a good fit culturally, 70% of respondents confirmed they are also happy to continue to look for a new job even after having already accepted one. However, as mentioned, once they commence work, and assuming the job lives up to the expectations presented at interview, Gen Z will be committed to the company for a reasonable length of time.

So, with Gen Z graduates being not only tech savy but tech innate using up to 4 pieces of tech at the same time, it is imperative that having gained an expression of interest, that you keep them interested via your brand exposure. Gen Z are used to getting regular updates on the progress of orders placed online – the suite of text messages/emails that say ‘thank you for your order’ …. Followed by ‘we are getting your order ready’… ‘your order is on its way’….. ‘your order will be delivered by xx and, by the way, if you want to see where the delivery driver is, click here’ and finally…. ‘we hope you like your order, feel free to leave us feedback here…. Gen Z are used to being kept informed and involved in the process at every stage and they are looking for – or some might say – are expecting similar from a future employer: ‘thank you for your application’, ‘we are reviewing your application’, ‘we are arranging interviews’ ‘come for an interview’, ‘we’d like to offer you a job’ and perhaps more importantly even a further set of comms letting them know how much you are looking forward to them joining your organisation, details of their induction programme, even an invite to a social event perhaps subject to size of organisation. If you can adopt this type of approach, your future new starter will hopefully remain engaged enough to move from being part of the 70% who still actively seek alternative employment opportunities despite having a accepted an offer, to being one of the 30% who would not actively seek alternative employment.

What is the most important factor when considering an opportunity during an interview?

An employer’s branding efforts will project the identity of the organisation and the long-term benefits of working there, both internally and externally. A strong brand will align current employees to your organisation, creating vocal brand ambassadors who will help attract new hires. What’s more, Dartmouth’s report concludes that regardless of the outcome of the recruitment process itself, an unequivocal proportion of participants highlighted feedback (or lack of it) as the real deal-breakers.

First impressions have a lasting impact, which may come back to haunt you in the future when the previous graduate is now the senior manager you might be wanting to hire a few years down the line. It’s important therefore that all graduates feel positively about their interactions with your organisation. Conversely, by delivering market leading candidate experience, you can build yourself an army of advocates, which is surely the most powerful marketing weapon you can ask for.

You can download a full copy of Dartmouth’s report here

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