Generation Z


to effectively recruit students and younger populations, there needs to be more to the story

With the next wave of Generation Z getting ready to march down the aisle toward graduation, we need to talk about college recruiting in the real world. And not the “what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real” world beloved by Gens X and Y. Instead, let’s take a long hard look at student outreach in today’s hiring landscape. Just who are these students? This generation? What do they want from an employer? Well, for one, they certainly aren’t Millennials, something that’s already well documented. In fact, they seem to reject the idea of being lumped together, determined to stand out as diverse individuals. That’s right, note the d-word.

By now you’ve likely heard about the benefits of workplace diversity: higher innovation, stronger profitability, improved culture and so on. But how does that translate to student outreach and what does it mean to this next generation of workers? For starters, it’s time to rethink that stock definition of diversity.

Broadening our understanding

As previously discussed, somewhere along the way, diversity got reduced down to two categories: race and gender. Of course, race and gender matter immensely, but frankly, there’s a whole big world out there beyond the corporate confines, and students probably know that better than anyone else. Which is why Oleeo and Universum’s recent report on student recruiting trends in the U.S. sought to expand diversity, surveying 20,879 business students from across the country. Of that total population, 4,903 identified as LGBT; 1,841 as people with disabilities; and 1,063 as veterans. The goal being to learn more about their take on employment and to understand how companies can capture the attention of different student communities.

The results are telling, especially when it comes to the top attributes that students look for in an employer. Overall, those surveyed honed in on factors like leaders who support their development, high future earnings and a clear path for advancement. In looking at students with diverse backgrounds, these preferences change focused more on respect for people and an inspiring purpose. So for employers interested in attracting diverse talent and building advocacy among these communities, balancing out different recruiting messages definitely matters.

Making it count

But beyond a tailored word choice, there’s also a growing call to meet the needs and ambitions of individuals throughout their employment journey. As no two people are created equal, neither are their goals and aspirations and going to work for one organization over another is a serious decision. So it’s no surprise that chief among the desires of those surveyed is a work-life balance, followed by job security and stability. However, when you take a look at the most attractive employers in the U.S. and compare it with the best workplaces for diversity, there’s minimal overlap. The only company that appears in the top ten on both lists is NBCUniversal.

So what is this company doing right? LinkedIn points to the fact that the NBCUniversal hired more than 36,000 new employees in 2017, attracting job seekers with expanded parental benefits, free cable and internet and even complimentary park passes. Check one for work-life balance. According to the Forbes ranking, current employees say it’s because “In any team or division you work for there are people from all walks of life.” Check one for diversity. Still, to effectively recruit students and younger populations, there needs to be more to the story – something else NBCUniversal seems to have all figured out.  

Solutions, steps, and resources

Breaking into new talent pools, particularly those that are just entering the workforce, requires planning, foresight and the right combination of strategies and solutions. Going back to NBCUniversal for a moment, one thing that’s worked for their student outreach or “early career” initiatives is events.

Whether in person or virtual, events offer employers a way to connect with candidates early on, learning about their background and career goals while establishing a relationship. With support from a designated recruiting event platform, the company can accurately capture this information and stay in touch with top talent well after the event ends. Easy access to calendars helps highlight diversity-centric events, including date, time and location, while candidate profiles maintain resumes, supporting documents and any details shared at check-in. And given all that recruiting teams need to keep track of, especially as they welcome Gen Z job seekers, this works to increase efficiency and ensure key factors such as diversity remain top of mind moving forward.  

To find out how recruiting events facilitate student outreach and improve diversity, visit


Jeanette Maister

Jeanette Maister is Managing Director and Head of Americas at Oleeo. At Oleeo, Maister drives growth, influences the product and helps customers leverage technology to transform their recruiting efforts.  Prior to Oleeo, Jeanette spent most of her career as a recruiting practitioner holding leadership roles at Credit Suisse, Lehman Brothers, IBM, and Gartner. A graduate of Washington University in St. Louis with an MBA in Management from Columbia Business School, Jeanette was recognized as a 2018 IT Women of the Year finalist. She also received the Stevie silver 2017 Female Executive of the Year and the 2017 SmartCEO Brava Award.