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How to Recruit Gen Z On Their Turf (And On Their Terms)

February 14, 2023
Parker Pell

Relying upon campus recruiting to fill early career roles has been standard practice for the past 40+ years. And for good reason: until recently, a college degree was considered the golden ticket to entering Corporate America. As employers needed to quickly and cheaply hire early-talent positions, colleges and universities became an easy and obvious source of that talent. Employers could assume that if a candidate had successfully navigated the rigorous admissions and academic processes to obtain a degree, they would turn out to be a good hire. 

However, today’s campus recruitment isn’t what it used to be. For candidates, research shows that the newest workforce generation cares less about getting four-year degrees, instead, following “non-traditional” pathways of skills-based education (trade schooling, for example). For companies, this can also come with the challenge of expanding their notion of what “early career” or “early in career” talent means. 

Either way, when visiting college campuses or attending career fairs, companies can no longer expect to attract and engage early career talent by simply showing up to a career fair with brochures, expecting students to be impressed and attracted. Generation Z is well aware of their worth and, at the very least, expects to be wooed well before committing to working for a company. 

Read on for suggestions on making your campus recruiting efforts a valuable, worthwhile experience (for candidates and companies alike!). 

Understand your talent pool

With each new generation, we hear how different they are from the last. So, it’s important to understand the generation from which you are recruiting and the values that drive them to make decisions. As we’ve seen, Gen Z values things like authenticity, diversity and inclusion, stability, freedom, and creativity, to name a few. Their approach to work and life has been shaped by major events and considering that most of these defining events were streamed on devices or followed through hashtags, it’s no surprise that Gen Z is more worried about financial stability, has anxiety around the future, and is overall, more inclusive in understanding identity differences. 

However, despite potential misconceptions, Generation Z wants to work: they just see and do it differently. Acknowledging and understanding these differences is the right step in ensuring that all workplace generations can work in harmony.

Stand Out…The Right Way

With over 70% of companies hiring new college graduates each year, the pressure is on to stand out at career fairs and other campus events. And let’s not forget who we’re working with: to best connect with Gen Z, you must not only speak their language but use their preferred platforms and media to capture their attention. Use job description best practices to make your open roles enticing to early talent. 

Building an employee influencer network is another way to highlight what it’s like to work at your organization. Leaning on referral programs, brand or campus ambassador programs, social media and employee review websites (like Glassdoor or Indeed) can ensure your company and culture are being represented in a way that appeals to Gen Z. This initiative is research-backed: nearly two-thirds of Gen Z prefer to rely on current or former employee referrals as the most-trusted source for job searches. Job boards came in second, followed closely by a company’s website.

Measure, Measure, Measure

With the adoption of advanced technology like AI, machine learning, and other automation software, early career teams are getting savvier about their recruiting approaches. With all the responsibilities that feed into campus recruiting, it’s important to focus on your hiring needs and goals and how your campus efforts fit in. Metrics such as school performance, event performance, cost per hire, conversion rates by source, talent pool size, and other communication data points (i.e., email open rate, and candidate engagement points, to name a few). Understanding what constitutes a successful campus recruiting effort can help teams determine if their initiatives are worthwhile. 

Personalize Your Follow-Up

Once you’ve connected with students on campus, make sure to stay in touch! You likely won’t have the bandwidth or space to hire everyone you meet, but you never know when you might need them or where they will be in a few years. Following up with personalized job recommendations, future event invitations, company news or updates, or other professional resources can help keep candidates engaged in the years after campus recruiting. And, if you do move a candidate forward, send frequent updates about their hiring status or next steps. Shameless plug: when it comes time to make an offer, use Abode to ensure there are no gaps in your preboarding or onboarding processes!


As you move into the bulk of your spring recruiting efforts, remember that campus recruiting is taking on a new shape. No longer can recruiters expect to sit back, wait for students to stop by, and collect hundreds of resumes or applications. To remain competitive (and authentic!), teams need to invest in solutions and strategies centered around Generation Z’s candidate experience: maintaining authentic connection, transparent processes, and frequent and personalized communication. Gen Z expects your best; show them you can deliver. 

For more insights like these, or to see how Abode’s platform can help formalize your candidate experience strategies, schedule a demo with us here

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