How to Appeal to Gen Z in the Job Search (and How NOT to Appeal to Them)

How to Appeal to Gen Z in the Job Search (and How NOT to Appeal to Them)

By: Bradley Fischer

Two weeks ago, our very own RubyJoy (RJ) Pikes was a panelist at the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Conference, alongside recent Penn State University grad Alexis Dominguez and 2022 DePaul University student Nick Seda.

They shared the student perspective on the job search and recruiting process and provided actionable insights that recruiters could take back to their teams ahead of the Fall recruiting season.

This post will touch on students’ experiences searching for a job, the importance of diversity and inclusion at a company, and takeaways that recruiters can integrate into their teams to make themselves more attractive to Gen Z job seekers!

Portions of their responses are below, and they’ve been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

1. Student Perspectives on Job Searching

Q: Tell us about your job search process as a current student or recent college graduate. What roadblocks have you faced applying for jobs and internships, and what advice would you give to companies to break down those barriers?

“I found that sites like LinkedIn and Indeed were way more vital in my job hunt. They seem to be the place where I would get interviews and be able to interact with companies. Career fairs and pre-recorded virtual interviews, on the other hand, feel much more impersonal, as they really take away from recruiters being able to have a natural flow of conversation to genuinely learn about them.” – Alexis

“A major roadblock I’ve experienced is that some of my previous jobs have been difficult to find. I’ve had to do a lot of research and digging to find these opportunities. The positions need to be more readily available to the audiences you are trying to target.” – Nick

Insights & Tips for Recruiters:

  • Prioritize authentically engaging and connecting with candidates, even if it takes more time.
  • Utilize spaces like LinkedIn and Handshake to market and promote your opportunities. The better job that you do marketing it, the more talent you will attract.

Q: What are some red flags you’ve come across as a recent grad or student applying to jobs?

“One of the biggest red flags in the job search is lack of transparency and honesty from recruiters. Don’t lead on candidates and just be upfront about where exactly they are in your interview process. It may take you more time, but it’s the least you can do for someone who took significant time to apply for your position.” – Alexis

Q: What are some positive aspects of a job or company that makes you more likely to consider working there?

“Company culture is the most important. If it’s a thriving, positive company culture where people are being uplifted, supported, and encouraged with their talents, that’s great! Growth and learning opportunities are important, especially those within your own career or with yourself. Lastly, benefits are important, especially if candidates have to relocate for work.” – Nick

2. Diversity and Inclusion from the Student Perspective

Q: How important to you is it to see diversity in the workplace? What makes you view a company as diverse and inclusive if you can’t see the inside of that company?

“As a Black student, diversity and inclusion are super important to me, but it only really has an impact if it’s truly authentic. Having people from different backgrounds and ethnicities allows a company to have a lot of character and stories which benefit the brand as a whole.” – RJ

“A tell-tale sign that a company is serious about its diversity and inclusion efforts is if it has Employee Resource Groups for women and other minorities, where those employees can go to feel safe and feel like they have people around them who probably are struggling with the same types of problems.” – Alexis

Insights & Tips for Recruiters:

  • Give diverse students a platform so they can have their voices heard, appreciated, and acknowledged.
  • Avoid silencing the voices of minorities.
  • Put diverse people in leadership positions that younger candidates or employees can look up to.
  • Put diverse recruiters on your interview panels that can speak to, acknowledge, and relate with the diverse students you recruit.

Q: How can companies go about discussing diversity and inclusion with students and with candidates?

“If a company wants to go about discussing diversity and inclusion with its employees and candidates, they should be honest, open, and ask for feedback from their employees and other people that they interact with daily. Talking about it within a company is really important in being truly authentic.” – Nick

3. Actionable Insights for Recruiters

Q: What’s your biggest piece of advice for a recruiter to take away and implement into their campus recruiting strategy this Fall and beyond?

“Not all students are the same. Trial and error are so big when communicating with college students, as we are constantly changing and constantly wanting to be communicated with in different ways. Keep trying new ideas until you find something that works for you.” – RJ

“Be authentic, be upfront, and be real. Treat your candidates and your employees like human beings. Encourage them to be the best people they can be and everything will fall into place from there.” – Nick

“Be timely and communicate. I would much rather get the letdown email than hear nothing at all and feel that I spent two hours putting my all into the job application and they couldn’t even send me the automated rejection letter.” – Alexis

Ready to step up your game engaging with college students during the upcoming recruiting season? We’d love to team up! Contact us at to set up an exploratory call.