Digital + Social Media Employee Communications

Gen Z: From Social Media App to Job App

By Nash Levitt

Gen Z is a growing labor force, and according to Oxford Economics, they will account for 30% of total employment by 2030. Many of them are hungry, dedicated, and with the right training, can be the future of your company. But first, you have to convince them to apply.

Amid workforce trends like the Great Resig­­nation and Great Reshuffling, employers are struggling to attract and retain talent. In the tech sector specifically, the available applicant pool decreased by nearly 25% in 2021, and the number of jobs posted nearly doubled over the same period.

As a Gen Zer who recently did the job search song and dance, here are some recommendations for employers inspired by how I leveraged social media to find and land the position that put me behind this keyboard. With insights from employer branding best practices through integrated communications, let’s convert that click from a “like” to an “apply now.”

Why Social Media Is a Useful Hiring Tool

Social media is one of the first touchpoints the talent audience has with your brand, and candidates spend hours researching a company online before applying. According to CareerArc, 54% of active job seekers search for jobs on social media, and 33% apply to jobs they discovered on social media.

Social media isn’t just for researching companies; it’s also a communication and application tool (not to mention free!) best used as a conversation, not a billboard. It is an effective and personal avenue uniquely positioned to capture the interest of Gen Z candidates.

The Social Content Gen Z Is Looking For

Odds are, you already have a marketing strategy for social media. But make sure to treat your hiring effort on social as its own strategy. Posting your accolades and business success adds credibility to your organization, but that is not enough to stand apart from the sea of employers. To position your company as a fit for Gen Z’s interests and professional goals, incorporate the following messaging pillars.

Company values and impact.

Gen Z is looking for a company that shares its values and is willing to make a difference in the world. LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index shows that 80% of Gen Z want an employer who demonstrates “better alignment with my interests or values,” compared to millennials (59%) and Gen X (49%). While value alignment is Gen Z’s number one criteria in an organization, millennials and Gen X both prioritize “better compensation or benefits.”

Highlighting company culture is also essential, as the significance of work/life balance is at an all-time high. Company culture extends beyond flexible PTO policies to include your focus on mental well-being, what mentorship opportunities are available, and how candidates can more meaningfully connect with the people they would spend a third of their life working alongside.

A great example of highlighting employee mental wellness is the #ShowUsYourLeave campaign by theSkimm, encouraging employers to share their paid leave policies on social media. This viral phenomenon achieved massive success by contributing to the conversation of employees struggling to get sufficient time off during life circumstances like family planning and care.

INK's #ShowUsYourLeave graphic for theSkimm's campaign emphasizing transparency and employee mental wellness.
INK’s #ShowUsYourLeave graphic for theSkimm’s campaign emphasizing transparency and employee mental wellness.

Also, recognizing current employees on social media can give a sneak peek behind your company’s work, show that you value your people, and humanize your organization. Acknowledging and appreciating the successes of your workforce attracts new talent and retains existing employees.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

In addition to purpose, DEI is a critical component to highlight in your recruitment efforts. Hiring diverse candidates is one thing, but aspects like the structure of your leadership team, how you educate people on alternate perspectives, and what causes your company contributes to financially are actions that potential employees seek.

Gen Z wants to know the big picture of how your company is positively contributing to the community and the world beyond showcasing diversity metrics on a website pie chart.

Professional development opportunities.

LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index also illustrates that 76% of Gen Z are looking for positions with “more opportunities to learn/practice new skills or expertise.” A paycheck and benefits are great, but how will you help Gen Z employees develop professionally? Gen Z is at the beginning of their careers, and you may be their first or second job ever (outside of high school fast food slinging).

Also, consider your long-term recruitment goals. Getting employees in the door is great, but churn is expensive. Creating a fulfilling experience that enables employees to expand their skillsets and experience components of their job that they are best at and get the most pleasure from makes you more likely to retain them and get better results. Ensure your communication is relevant by discussing how they can benefit from working for you.

The Best Social Media Channels for Gen Z Hiring

Less is more when it comes to prioritizing social media channels in your Gen Z hiring strategy. Although repurposing posts across platforms can help with your reach, don’t sacrifice the resources required for developing engaging content on the channels that will drive the best results.

LinkedIn and Instagram are the best two social platforms for talent recruitment.

LinkedIn should be your primary focus, as it is a professional social platform with many users looking for open positions, leveraging their networks, and seeing how companies present themselves professionally. And make it easy for folks to get in touch with you! My journey to INK began with applying for a job I saw posted on LinkedIn and direct messaging the employee experience manager. Ensure the individual(s) in charge of hiring at your company have a clear title that defines them as the point of contact for interested applicants. Consider incorporating keywords like recruitment, hiring, human resources, and HR into their bio and a CTA to direct message them for more information.

Instagram is an excellent opportunity for lifestyle and company culture content. Show your employees at the latest retreat or volunteer day, reveal vignettes of company life on stories, and post fun photos of your four-legged work-from-home colleagues. Instagram feels familiar and makes people think they are part of your story, even if they just started following along.

Facebook and X, on the other hand, won’t be as advantageous for hiring Gen Z.

Gen Z are fleeing Facebook, complaining that it’s for older relatives to share vacation pictures and birthday wishes. In 2012, 94% of 12- to 17-year-olds had a Facebook account. Almost 10 years later, only 27% of adolescents say they’re on the platform, according to a 2021 survey of 10,000 teenagers conducted by Piper Sandler. Also, Facebook predicts teen users to decline by 45% over the next two years, adding to a 13% drop since 2019.

Although X is typically a significant component of tech and energy companies’ marketing strategy, it is less frequently used as a hiring and branding tool. Reserve X for sharing company news, amplifying perspectives from your company’s thought leaders, and participating in industry discussions through formats such as X chats.

Now for the infamous question, “Should we start a TikTok?”

Although effective at showcasing brand personality, TikTok shouldn’t be a primary medium for hiring efforts due to the time investment required. Instagram can be a better alternative for visually appealing brand-building posts while also supporting other content pillars in your marketing strategy.

From Followers to Employees

Potential employees want to know what’s in it for them to work at a company. Ultimately, showing Gen Z applicants how you can help them grow, contribute to their values and interests, and work somewhere with supportive colleagues is what will elicit interest and address your hiring challenges.

Social media allows companies to intimately connect with their applicant audience and highlight the components that make them desirable as an employer. Trust me, as someone who was on the other side of the screen once, it works.