The Thrill of Working at a Startup Holds Little Appeal for Gen Z

Surveys find the youngest workers crave employment stability. They are unimpressed by the offbeat perks startups believe will attract them.

learn more about Heather R. Huhman

By Heather R. Huhman

Denys Prykhodov |

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

For up-and-coming professionals, it's not all about finding the dream job anymore. The desire for creativity and passion at work is fading compared to stability, according to an online survey of 1,001 current and recently graduated college students, conducted in March on behalf of Adecco Staffing USA.

The survey found 70 percent of Generation Z (referring to people born since the early 1990s) professionals would prefer a job that offers job security, as opposed to one that offers passion but less stability. Further, perks just aren't cutting it. Friendly work environments, flexible schedules, and high salaries ranked much lower on the Gen Z respondents' list as priorities for a first job.

Startups will have to get creative to sell their employer brand to Gen Z:

1. Create a picture of stability on the company's website.

When security-conscious Gen Z'ers look at the startup's website and social media, they're going to assess its credibility. With so many job scams out there and startup projects that fall through within the first few months or years, they'll likely be skeptical at first.

Include information about the startup's past, present, and future goals on the careers page. Gen Z candidates will look to see how it started out, how far it's come, and decide if that path looks like one they'd like to join.

Don't have a good grasp on the company's culture? Encourage employees to download Memo to learn the culture and environment employees honestly experience.

Related: What Companies Can Expect When They Hire Gen Z

2. "Sell' self-development.

A major selling point for working at a startup is the how it impacts an individual's professional growth, through solving complex problems and overcoming trials.

Fortunately, Gen Z values career growth almost as much as job security. Career growth topped the list as the most important aspect of a first job, ranked first by 36 percent of Gen Z'ers in Adecco's study.

Emphasize to candidates the opportunities for development and promotion within the growing company. Additionally, don't forget to mention all of the personal and professional skills employees will develop as they work for the startup.

Related: Why 'Gen Z' May Be More Entrepreneurial Than 'Gen Y'

3. Be realistic.

More than one half of both Gen Z and Gen Y said that honesty is the most important quality for being a good leader, according to Millennial Branding's 2014 Gen Y and Gen Z Global Workplace Expectations study. The study, conducted in April 2014, surveyed 1,005 people aged 16–20 (Gen Z) about their thoughts on their future workplace, and 1,016 respondents aged 21–32 (Gen Y) about their thoughts on their current workplace.

Just like Gen Y, Gen Z wants their bosses to be real with them. Instead of trying to woo job candidates by talking about grandiose ideals of where the company expects to be in a few months, be more realistic. Be straightforward and honest about where the company is in the market and what it's capable of.

Related: Gen Z Employees: The 5 Attributes You Need to Know

4. Communicate in-person.

The Millennial Branding survey also found the majority (51 percent) of Gen Z respondents prefer in-person communications with managers, as opposed to emailing or instant messaging. Though the digital natives grew up during the tech craze, for Gen Z, technology doesn't replace having that one-on-one time with their boss and co-workers.

Meet with qualified candidates in person to help build credibility and show the face behind the brand. With an existing team, schedule regular, consistent meetings to help build stronger relationships and camaraderie.

Related: Why Face-to-Face Communication Won't Disappear (Infographic)

5. Have a solid vision.

Both Gen Y and Gen Z agree they want leaders exhibit a solid vision, which ranks second to honesty, according to the survey. It's not hard to see why. If a company doesn't have a clear plan to accomplish its goals or know where it wants to go at all, that's a big red flag for career instability.

Share with candidates the company vision statement, and highlight tactical ways the company works toward turning that vision into reality every day, no matter how small. Include how the candidate's new role will contribute to that vision. Don't be vague. Provide specific examples of how joining the startup's team will help propel it to success.

Related: Age and Experience Don't Matter. Mindset Does.

Heather R. Huhman

Career and Workplace Expert; Founder and President, Come Recommended

Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, the PR solution for job search and HR tech companies. She writes about issues impacting the modern workplace.

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