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Gen Z Research Findings, Part III: Why Candidates Sign With Employers They Can Trust

This is Part III in our four-part blog series, Gen Z Research Findings, guiding employers to build better candidate journeys for top early-career talent. Please read Part I, Who Is Gen Z and Why Do They Matter, and part II, Setting Clear Expectations for Incoming Candidates, here.

In this series, we uncover how to create a candidate-first experience, based on four tenets Gen Zers want to see from future employers. Last week we reviewed Gen Z’s demand to understand day-to-day expectations in the workplace. This week, we explore the third principle: transparency.

Gen Z candidates expect open, honest communication with future employers from the moment they join their talent community to their first day on the job. In particular, early-career applicants expect transparency in three key areas: hiring timelines, salary ranges, and opportunities for career advancement.

Transparency Surrounding the Hiring Process

Imagine this scenario: You apply to a company, conduct an initial phone screening, get invited to headquarters to interview in person, then…crickets. For weeks, you wonder if the role went to another candidate, with no word from the company.

This all-too-familiar scenario is one of the most frustrating aspects of job searching, particularly for Gen Z candidates. Research shows that just 36% of candidates receive a progress indicator throughout the hiring process, while just 29% receive instructions for the next steps after submitting an application. This lack of transparency can cause early-career candidates to drop out of the interview process entirely. In fact, nearly half (45%) of Gen Zers believe that transparency surrounding the next steps and timelines is the number one way to improve the interview process.

What Employers Can Do

To build a transparent candidate journey, communicate openly and effectively early in the hiring process. Use an automation platform, like Abode, to send instructions on the next steps after each step within the candidate lifecycle. In addition, explain your hiring process when a candidate joins your talent community, answering commonly-asked questions, including:

  • Will candidates complete interviews over the phone, via Zoom, or in-person?
  • Will candidates be expected to complete take-home projects or panel interviews?
  • What is the estimated duration of the hiring process, from application to offer?
  • If a candidate has questions throughout the process, who is their point of contact?

When determining whether a piece of information should be passed on to candidates, use this rule of thumb: communicate anything the candidate can’t Google. This generation is incredibly self-reliant when it comes to research, leveraging online resources including Glassdoor, Indeed, or TikTok, in addition to crowdsourcing opinions of friends and family,  to evaluate employment opportunities. Based on their inherent need to trust their future employer, they will naturally gravitate toward companies that offered hiring details they couldn’t find through their own research.

Transparency Surrounding Salary Details

Over half (52%) of all Gen Z candidates state that salary range is the number one factor in determining whether to accept a job offer. In fact, over two-thirds (68%) of early-career candidates state they would accept a role they didn’t like if the salary was high enough.

And yet, corporations have historically kept salary details hidden. According to a report by the BBC, a measly 12.6% of global companies publish job postings with salary ranges.

If you want to attract and retain top talent, you need to be forthcoming about salary information. After growing up through two recessions, witnessing high cost of living expenses, and experiencing record-breaking student debt, finances are a top concern amongst young people. According to Deloitte’s Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey, 46% of Gen Zers worry about living paycheck to paycheck, while 26% fear they won’t be able to retire comfortably.

The outcome? Gen Zers continue to prove they can, and will, exit a job if it doesn’t meet their financial needs. New research by Payscale shows that 50% of workers will leave a job if they believe they’re being paid less than the market rate. A report by the Bank of America Institute showed that Gen Zers are most likely to quit their jobs and receive the highest pay bump when they do (earning nearly a staggering 19.9% salary increase on average).

Gen Z’s demand for salary transparency has sparked change on a national scale, influencing everything from social media trends to state laws. On TikTok, the account @SalaryTransparentStreet amassed a following of nearly 900k followers with 19M likes, fostering conversations around salary transparency. In November 2022, New York City joined the likes of California, Colorado, Connecticut, and other states in requiring employers, by law, to post salary ranges with job postings.

What Employers Can Do

To attract top talent, research salary market rates across multiple data sources. Factor in the cost of living expenses with the cost of labor, comparing salary ranges to those posted on Glassdoor, Indeed, PayScale, or the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Communicate salary ranges with your talent community and train managers to have conversations about compensation with potential employees. Finally, create a pay philosophy that aligns with the types of behaviors you want to incentivize in the workplace.

Transparency Surrounding Career Growth

When evaluating future employers, Gen Z candidates aren’t just looking for a paycheck — they’re looking for a career.

Early-career candidates demand transparency surrounding upward advancement, whether it comes in the form of mentorship, networking, or learning and development opportunities. As written by Forbes, 76% of Gen Zers state that learning is key to their career advancement. And they’re willing to put in the work — LinkedIn reports that Gen Z logged 50% more hours watching online courses on its platform than any other generation.

Finding an employer where they can learn and harness new skills is a top priority for Gen Z applicants. According to the NSHSS 2022 Career Interest Survey, 67% of Gen Zers want full-time jobs that enable them to learn new skills and advance their career. Their biggest hopes? To land a position that provides in-person training (63%) and to have a boss whom they can learn from (26%). And frankly, they expect to know opportunities for gaining access to all of the above before accepting a job offer.

What Employers Can Do

To attract and retain top talent, be upfront about the career trajectory of early-career hires. Create a content strategy explaining how a potential hire might advance within their future department. Consider collecting testimonials from current employees, launching a mentorship or buddy program, or creating cohort meetups to decrease your renege rate with new hires. Leverage an engagement platform, like Abode, to create a digital community for your talent community while automating all candidate communication. With Abode, you can segment your content strategy based on future roles or departments, thereby creating personalized candidate journeys.

Leverage Abode to Increase Transparency Amongst Early-Career Candidates

Transparent candidate journeys allow Gen Z applicants to make informed, confident decisions about their career. Today’s early-career candidates expect employers to remain open throughout the hiring process, letting them know the next steps at every stage. In addition, candidates gravitate towards employers who are transparent about salary ranges and upward advancement opportunities.

To prevent Gen Z candidates from being left in the dark, use Abode. Abode is built by Gen Z candidates for Gen Z candidates, allowing brands to build personalized journeys at scale. Abode's all-in-one platform allows you to track candidate engagement, automate your content strategy, and increase transparency with your candidate journey.

Stay tuned next week to learn about the fourth – and final –  tenet of Gen Z engagement: respect.

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