Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Tailoring recruitment strategies to generational differences: new research from Monster reveals how recruiters can attract top talent from different generations

Study finds that Gen Z candidates prioritise company values over compensation and benefits - unlike Millennials and Baby Boomers

New research launched today by Monster, one of the world's largest recruitment firms, highlights the need for recruiters to adapt their recruitment strategies to changing candidate needs and generational differences. The report, titled "Recruitment revolution: closing generation gaps," states that the traditional 9-5 working day is no longer applicable and examines attitudes of different generations towards work.  It also provides top tips on how recruiters can tailor their approach to each group to attract the best talent.

Generational similarities and differences in attitudes to work

To gain insights into changing candidate behaviours, the research surveyed 3,100 established global professionals in recruitment, talent acquisition, and HR from every generation, as well as candidates aged 18-67 who are employed for at least 24 hours per week (excluding self-employed individuals). According to Monster, although "generational traits" is a broad characterisation, the research unambiguously reveals significant differences as well as similarities in terms of work satisfaction. 

The research found that the standards, expectations and demands of each generation have transformed in the past few years. Common to all is the desire for greater freedom and flexibility, with workers of all ages agreeing that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a new normal in the workplace. Almost a third want to work flexibly in environments where they feel safe.

In response, companies are offering more flexibility and focusing on benefits. For example, the report states that 42% of companies are allowing Generation Z employees to operate flexibly or remotely.  In addition, while the factors that motivate work choices differ among generations, there was a consensus among all generations that working for organisations that align with their values, and in roles that have meaning, scored highly. 

However, there are some crucial differences between the generations that recruiters should note, says the survey.   For instance, Baby Boomers are almost twice as concerned with compensation and benefits as Generation Z. Millennials also rated good compensation and benefits highly - 41% compared to Generation Z on 26%. Generation Z candidates, on the other hand, focus more on company values. 59% of Generation Z recruiters anticipate that candidates will increasingly expect to learn about a company’s diversity and inclusion efforts and social impact.  Perhaps surprisingly, Generation Z was least likely to approve of dressing less professionally in an interview when compared to previous generations. 

Claire Barnes, Monster's Chief Human Capital Officer, says: “Workplaces are, like wider society, becoming more diverse.  Recruiters must embrace new ways of working, adopt new technologies, and understand what is important to each generation. They need to alter the assessment criteria, and adapt their recruitment techniques to the modern candidate by embracing generational diversity, evolving needs, and the desire for flexible working. Successful recruitment, for any generation, is to balance effective existing strategies with new approaches to attract interest from all groups for every role.”

She added, “Gen Z is the first generation to come of age in a fully digital world and have access to more information about companies and their values than ever before. The findings of this study could have significant implications for companies looking to secure top talent in the coming years. Employers may need to re-evaluate their values and messaging to reflect this shift in priorities when it comes to choosing an employer in order to appeal to the growing Gen Z workforce.”

Using technology to recruit – a generational perspective

The survey asked recruiters which recruitment technologies they favoured.  While all generations still ranked an ‘in-person’ interview as a more important factor than a virtual interview the gap between them was much narrower for younger recruiters. It found that Generation Z recruiters are almost twice as positive about digital recruiting as any other generation. Online search tools and applicant tracking software are more effective than social media at identifying candidates than social media. They’re also twice as likely to use text messages and WhatsApp to communicate with candidates. Technology can break down barriers, but for Boomers and also for some Millennials, it can construct them. Not every candidate will be as comfortable in a video interview.

61% of Generation Z recruiters claimed that virtual recruiting was better than hiring in person, while 26% of Millennial recruiters, 13% of Generation X recruiters and only 6% of Baby Boomers said the same.  All generations ranked in-person interviews better than virtual, with 67% of Generation Z, 56% of Millennials, 66% of Generation X and 74% of Baby Boomers claiming this.

Top tips for recruiters: best recruitment methods for different generations

To successfully attract candidates from diverse generations, the report provides several top tips for recruiters, including:-

  • Recruiters targeting Generation Z candidates should provide real examples to back up their statements, as this generation tends to be sceptical about promises. Authenticity is key. Recruiters should also highlight a company’s corporate values
  • For Millennials, organisations should use social media, text messaging, and WhatsApp to stay in touch and describe packages, perks, and benefits
  • When recruiting Boomers, recruiters should highlight the stability and security of roles
  • Generation X recruiters should emphasise benefits, perks, and salary, and use word-of-mouth, networking, and tried-and-trusted methods to engage with candidates