Recruiting Generation Z
All involved student recruitment particularly those reaching out to school leavers, cannot assume the same recruitment strategies that worked in the past will continue to do so today.
If your university has been using the same student recruitment techniques for the past 5 years you need to stop and seriously reconsider your strategy. The student population you want to engage with has moved on. A vastly different cohort has entered college with its own needs, aspirations, styles, and preferences. The cohort you reach out to changes every few years. Its most likely that if you are a student recruitment director or manager you were part of GEN X, those born before 1979 or GEN Y (Millennials) born 1980 – 1997. However the students you are encouraging to enrol this year and the next 8 – 10 years are GEN Z (born 1997 – 2015), this generation is not like you and will not respond to marketing and lead generation tactics of the past.
Don’t call me, text me
The generation with the shortest attention span wants faster, more direct communication, Gen Zs think phone calls are disruptive and time-consuming – why spend an unpredictable amount of time on a phone call, when it could take less than thirty seconds to respond via text? Gen Z consider a phone call inefficient.
Gen Zs were practically born with a smartphone in their hand and it’s been glued there ever since. But while this makes them the most accessible generation, it doesn’t mean they always want to be reachable. Gen Zs prefer messaging over phone calls because it gives them the freedom to compose a response in their own time – not just when it’s convenient for someone else trying to contact them.
Instead, Gen Zs overwhelmingly prefer messaging, with 8 in 10 Gen Zs we surveyed for Y13’s What Gen Z Actually Do Online report regularly using messaging apps such as Instagram (81%), Snapchat (74%), iMessage (62%), Facebook Messenger (60%).
Curiously, the same doesn’t apply to video chat apps, which are hugely popular – 77% of Gen Zs regularly use video chat apps like Facetime (54%), Zoom (29%), Facebook messenger (26%). A Talkative report suggests that’s because video chat “mimics how younger generations communicate with their peers.
Searching for truth
The search for truth is the root of GEN Z behaviour. McKinsey & Co. defined it as, “Don’t define yourself in only one way”, “Be radically inclusive”, “Fewer confrontations and more dialogue” and “Live life pragmatically”.
Generation Z students identify as compassionate, loyal, responsible, and thoughtful. They are committed to social change and social justice and seek education as a way to build their skills for the future. Being money conscious, tech savvy, and entrepreneurial, university recruiters need to find ways to engage these students differently from what may have worked with previous generations.
Generation Z students are highly career-focused and see university as a way to develop the skills they need to be successful in the future and they are keenly aware that passion plays a huge role in their happiness. They’ll be much more motivated to engage with you if you can tie what you offer to their passions. These passion-driven students want to ensure that they use their very limited time and resources to pursue what they believe is their greater calling in life. Helping them find opportunities that fit with their passions is critical for involving these students.
This desire to make a difference is not just important for their careers. 75% of students Gen Z’s going to university are motivated simply by knowing that what they are doing in any aspect of their lives is making a difference for someone else. Generation Z students are driven by the need to participate in experiences that promote sustainable, social change aimed to eradicate the underlying problem.
Regardless of how good the marketing and recruitment strategies are, if what Generation Z students are being recruited for does not align with their interests and needs, they may not participate. Thus, it is important to ensure that your attraction programs, web marketing content appeals to Generation Z.
Invest in parents
Interestingly, while Millennial parents were more like helicopter parents, hovering uninvited, GEN Z’s see their parents as co-pilots. This being the case you need to invest in connecting with parents. Our own experiences confirm this. In a case study 5,000 school leavers completed a MyCareerMatch profile of which a copy was sent to parents and carers. This encouraged child and parent to start a career conversation about their future. Not only did our client enrolment increase, but over 30% of parents decided they too wanted to upskill and improve their career prospects and enrolled in an online course.
Finally, the desire to be an entrepreneur figures highly with GEN Z’s and should not be overlooked in your student recruitment strategy. Nearly 50 percent want to be an entrepreneur. Many students, regardless of their degree, will end up working for themselves. Nearly 40 percent of Generation Z students plan to invent something that will make a difference in the world.
If you’re university is encouraging entrepreneurship, leadership and innovation, then as recruiters you must bring this to the attention of every single prospect during the recruitment process.