2022 Recruiting Trends for Gen Z & Millennials

by Mike Tannian on March 22, 2022

Learn about the differences in recruitment trends for Millennials and Gen Z, including a focus on work-life balance and the ability to make a positive impact.

Article Highlights

In the time of the Great Resignation and the continued retirement of Baby Boomer workers, government agencies are looking to younger workers to fill these now-empty roles.

But Millennials and Generation Z are not looking for jobs the same way the previous generations of workers did. They're looking for more than just a paycheck. They want to feel good about their jobs, have a positive impact with the work they do, and feel like they're making a difference in the world.

The public sector often offers more of these opportunities than the private sector. Health departments serve their local communities, family services care for vulnerable children and seniors, and the department of natural resources seeks to protect the environment. Very few corporations offer those kinds of opportunities.

This article will discuss the hiring trends that Generation Z and Millennials are embracing as they look for new jobs. We'll also look at the differences and similarities between the two generational cohorts, explain what they're looking for in a new employer, and give some insights into how to recruit Gen Z and Millennials.

Differences Between Gen Z and Millennials

According to the Pew Research Center, the Millennial generation (also called Generation Y), was born between 1981 and 1996. That means the oldest Millennials are in their early 40s and the youngest are in their mid to late twenties. That's a rather wide span when you think about it – the older Millennials likely have careers, houses, and children; younger Millennials are early in their career paths, many still live in apartments and have roommates, and are getting married at a later age.

Similarly, Gen Z was born between 1997 and 2015, making them between the ages of 7 and 25. They're finishing college, getting their first jobs, living at home or with roommates, and typically aren't married or having kids.

While it's impossible to say that "all Millennials think this way" or "all of Generation Z is like that," researchers like the Pew Research Center break people "into generational cohorts [to] give researchers a tool to analyze changes in views over time."

That means we have some generational trends that reflect how certain age groups tend to think about certain issues, which can tell us how to recruit Gen Z and Millennial generations.

Similarities in Recruitment of Millennials and Gen Z

When it comes to the recruitment process for Millennials and Generation Z, both age groups are looking for the same thing. They want employee benefits, including medical insurance, paid time off, and retirement savings. Both groups also want maternity and paternity benefits and student loan repayment options. However, Gen Z is looking for more tuition reimbursement while Millennials tend to be interested in bonus incentives.

They're also looking for a chance to help people in their work. They want to make a positive impact on their community or the population they serve. Millennials and Gen Z want their jobs to have purpose and meaning,– not just a way to get people to buy things they don't necessarily need.

Key Differences in Millennial and Gen Z Recruiting Trends

Of course, there are still differences to keep in mind when recruiting Millennials versus Gen Z. It takes different tactics to recruit someone in their late 30s and early 40s versus someone still in their 20s.

There are even differences within the Millennial age groups, as some people refer to the older Millennials as "geriatric Millennials" – those people born between 1980 and 1985 who associate strongly with Generation X's experiences. Meanwhile, younger Millennials are sometimes referred to as Zennials because of their strong affiliation with Generation Z.

Generation Z may also have some expectations about work that Millennials – especially the geriatric Millennials – don't have themselves. For example, most of Gen Z believe they'll receive a job offer right out of college. Their most popular college majors were science and psychology, two fields that almost certainly require going to graduate school to continue in that field. However, government agencies are often willing to work with most majors, so this could be a way to hire recruits who don't want to go to (or can't afford) graduate school.

According to a Kronos study, 32% of Gen Z believe they are the hardest working generation ever, with Millennials ranked as second. And 36% of them believe they "had it the hardest" when entering the workplace after college.

While both Gen Z and Millennials are concerned about finding competitive salaries and work-life balance, Millennials tend to focus on career growth opportunities while Gen Z focuses on the duties of the job.

Top Millennial and Gen Z Recruiting Trends

For government agencies trying to recruit Millennials and Generation Z, we've seen a few trends in the corporate world. Since corporations are a government agency's biggest competitor, it's important that you follow some of these trends if you expect to hire young talent before the large corporations can scoop them up.

These are the latest trends in the recruitment of Millennials and Generation Z candidates.

Brand Building

It seems a little odd to think that a government agency has to build a brand, but it's less about finding "customers" and more about finding recruits. What do people think of when they hear about your agency? Do they want to work for you or do they roll their eyes and whisper to their friends that yours is a place to avoid?

Colleges and universities learned long ago that one of their top tools in the recruitment process toolbox is more than sports. It's about student opportunities for volunteering or participating in educational events that also benefit their local community. 

Corporations have learned the same lesson, showcasing their volunteer days and community involvement. When they post about this on their social media channels, it's as much for customers as it is for future employees. It's also important to showcase your mission and values in your various job descriptions, even if it's just to show candidates what you're offering them.

These days, Millennials and Generation Z are not driven solely by a paycheck. They want to have a positive impact on people and some are willing to take lower pay if they know they can have a positive impact on their community or the world at large.

Use of Technology

Young Millennials and Gen Z are digital natives. While most Millennials are younger than the Internet (which was first launched in 1989), it's Generation Z who grew up playing on their parents' phones and tablets.

That means the younger recruits are looking for ways to use technology in the workplace. Rather than having rules about what websites they can't use during work (they're going to access them on their phones anyway), find ways to incorporate technology into their work.

This should also include remote work. The last two years have shown that we have outgrown this Industrial Revolution mindset that everyone must be at the office in order for any work to get done. Younger candidates grew up in a school system that allowed for working collaboratively in groups. Now, they've spent the last two years working remotely – and many of them enjoyed it. They could complete their work without making the long commute into an office.

In fact, many people are quitting their jobs rather than going back to the office. If you want to attract younger employees, offer work-from-home and remote work options, even if it's just a few days per week.

Development Opportunities

Both Millennials and Generation Z are interested in development opportunities. They want to expand their knowledge, learn new skills, and grow professionally. They don't just want to move up because of attrition and schedules. Remember, these are people who want to help their community and have an impact on their workplace. They want skills that will help them do that, and to develop skills that will benefit them in higher positions.

Work-Life Balance

One advantage the public sector has over the private sector is the ability for true work-life balance. The fact that most agencies work from 8 - 5 with a one-hour lunch should be appealing to anyone who wants that balance. After all, corporations are more than happy to work employees 60–80 hours per week, which is why their employees get burned out and often leave their positions quickly. One recent study found that 40% of people who left their jobs did so because they were feeling burned out.

Benefits and Transparent Pay Grades

Benefits include more than just a paycheck and health insurance (although that's also important, especially since the public sector often has better health benefits). Millennials and Gen Z are seeking other benefits like professional development, job flexibility, remote work or work-from-home opportunities, and a positive and diverse company culture.

They're also looking for transparent pay grades so they know what they're making alongside everyone else. Too many times, corporations pay two people in the same role entirely different amounts. That can cause hard feelings when either person finds out, which is why many companies forbid employees from talking about their salaries in the first place. Offering transparent pay grades builds trust for your organization, and employees will feel peace of mind about their pay in their different roles.

Job Security

Ever since the economic collapse of 2008, Millennials have been worried about job security, fearing that they could be laid off at any moment. Similarly, the pandemic has been hard on Generation Z as their jobs were often the first to disappear. These generations are anxious about job and financial stability, so they're looking for job security from their employers.

Student Loan Repayment Programs

Some government agencies offer a student loan repayment program as part of their benefits through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. More and more corporations are starting to offer it as a perk, but government agencies have the jump on them.

Shorten Time to Hire

Realistic or not, many Gen Zers expect to receive a job offer one week after their first interview with a company. Since this was a common occurrence in the fast food and retail world – and still is – Gen Z believes there is a similar timeline in career hiring.

Millennials who have been working professional jobs already know what to expect, but even still, those in the corporate world are used to quicker hiring processes.

There is already a competitive job market as companies scramble to fill jobs left open by the Great Resignation. They're snatching up employees as quickly as they can, which means if your agency is too slow in its hiring process, you'll miss out on some of the best talent.

Final Thoughts

The recruitment of Millennials and Generation Z is a lot different from the way the public sector has recruited past generations. These younger generations of workers still have career goals, but they want a work-life balance, professional growth opportunities, and the chance to help others. By keeping up with these trends, you can increase the recruitment of Millennials and Generation Z into your agency.

As these two generational groups increase within your agency, they can also progress your recruiting by sharing job opportunities with their friends and through their social networks. And they can even help you come up with innovative new programs that can help you further serve your communities and populations.

Visit our website to learn more about Millennial and Gen Z recruiting trends and how you can reach more candidates and increase diversity.

Mike Tannian

Mike Tannian is the Head of Content Marketing at NEOGOV. With a talented team of writers by his side, he aims to produce content that delivers real value.