How Employers Can Attract (and Impress) Gen-Z Workers

Gen Z is entering the workforce—and there’s competition for their labor. 

Like many other employers, Icon is always on the hunt for new and fresh thinkers and doers for our team. We asked our strategy intern (and real-life Zoomer) Molly Kleier to share her point of view on what companies should know when hiring Gen-Z workers.

I might not always catch your movie references, but I remember Blockbuster, Motorola flip phones, and when we used to be able to wait for people inside the airport. Although we’re the youngest generation, we’re quickly growing up. We’re already on track to be the best educated generation. And by 2025, we’ll make up 27% of the workforce.

We are Gen Z: young professionals bringing passion and a fresh perspective into the workplace.

And the market is ready to embrace us. With an unemployment rate hovering near 4%, employers are pivoting to attract new talent from our generation, and some are even revisiting their office perks and policies to do so. After all, with a potential recession looming on the horizon, we are going to be more selective about who we work for.

So, how can a business get our attention and keep us on board?


First, meet us where we are: online.

It all starts with the search. For us, we’re not visiting career fairs, picking up cold calls, or reading newspaper ads—we’re searching LinkedIn, researching employers’ social media pages and websites, and networking through our schools’ career planning services. Forget Indeed or Monster, Handshake is a popular job search platform that a lot of schools, like mine, are implementing into their career planning services. Students attend a “virtual career fair” where we can search for specific jobs or internships and message recruiters as well.

Personally, I have LinkedIn post notifications turned on for a few key terms relating to both current internship opportunities and potential full-time jobs (in the future). The terms include “Strategy Summer 2023” and “Creative Co-Op 2023”.

(See all of Icon’s open positions online!)

Next, you’ve got to make a great first impression.

From our point of view, the interview process is the first chance for everyone—employers included—to make a good impression. As much as an interviewer is evaluating whether I’m the right fit for the job, I’m evaluating whether the job is the right fit for me. In my initial interview at Icon, the interviewer asked about my experience and capabilities, but by the end of my final interview, we were discussing my values, successes and failures, and personal growth. This showed me that Icon valued not only my abilities, but also me as an individual.


Set your new hires up for success.

Although working at your company might be considered our first full-time job, it will likely not be the first job we’ve seen. And our generation is not afraid to job-hop to find a workplace that aligns with our personal values. That’s why it’s important for employers to hit the ground running and build a relationship with their new Gen-Z hires—starting with a solid onboarding plan.

Here's how Icon helped welcome me into the company:

  • A schedule of my first week

When I was handed a printed schedule of my first week of meetings, it lifted an immense weight off my shoulders. At prior jobs, I had no idea what was going to fill my time before my main work kicked off. This also helped me know what to expect so I could prepare appropriately to make a great first impression.

  • Team introductions

While I was learning my job responsibilities, it was crucial for me to know who I was working with, who/what my resources were, and how my role fit into the grand scheme of things. For that reason, getting one-on-one time to meet with my colleagues on different teams was an essential part of the onboarding process.

  • Navigating the logistics of working in the office

In 2020, I was still in school. During a time when I normally would have been coming into an internship and learning the do’s and don’ts of shaking hands, holding meetings, and the meaning of “business professional” attire, I was at home doing everything through a computer screen. So while Gen-Z workers are smart and hardworking, we might need a little extra help with things that many people take for granted, like knowing where to park, lunch options, and expectations for working and communicating in an office setting. Thankfully, these details were laid out for me when I started at Icon, and everyone was happy to help answer questions and offer advice when I needed it.

Gen Z is hardworking, passionate, and entering the workforce at a time of seemingly constant crisis (inflation, student debt, a housing crisis, a recession, and—let’s not forget—some of us were handed our diplomas through a car window). Even though we may have been dealt a difficult hand, we are still hopeful for our futures. After the events of the past few years, we put value into how our time is spent. Our first jobs are more than a means to pay off our student debt. We’re seeking to create purposeful, passionate, and fun careers with employers that care about their workers.

Thankfully, Icon is one of those employers. If you’re looking for a job, you should try applying for one of their open positions.


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