Do you know someone born between 1996 and 2015, also known as Gen Z? Ever find yourself asking them to help with a small task on your iPhone because you know they can do it in seconds? Well, I’m a member of that group, and as the largest generation by number, we’re about to take over the workforce.
Gen Z will bring roughly 60 million job seekers into the workplace in the next decade. One of the traits that sets our generation apart is tech-savviness; we grew up in an era with a lot of technology, some necessary and some not. As a result, we can accomplish tech tasks more quickly than the average Joe or Josephine. And when it comes to areas like social media, we have an understanding of how platforms work and which ones are worth the time.
But, what does that mean for the workforce as we know it and your company? Plenty, especially if you’re in a fast moving tech startup that needs to keep pace in quickly evolving areas like marketing.
Connecting and adapting
For Gen Zs, most everything needed can be found with the touch of a button. That’s why we have our phones on us at all times; it’s practically a bodily extension, a third arm if you will. It is the first thing we look at when we wake and the last thing we check before going to bed. Who needs a book when you can read on your phone, iPad or Kindle?
This leads to our constant need for the latest news. You can hold hundreds of outlets right in the palm of your hand. Not to mention, Gen Z’s favorite social media platforms - Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat - have created news channels. You can see what your friends are up to on the same app that you use for news. What’s more convenient than that?
This level of connectedness will enable Gen Z to shape and transform the workplace. With the world of technology changing so rapidly, we need individuals who can adapt just as fast - and the ability to pivot is built into Gen Z. This can be useful in many ways, including when you have a marketing campaign that needs to quickly shift or new tools and platforms to evaluate and come up to speed on.
Working it out
I am currently a junior in college. Many of my peers feel they’ve been presented with a generic life plan. It’s pre-K, elementary school, middle school, high school, college, maybe graduate school and then onto the working world with hopes of climbing the corporate ladder. But why is this necessary to be successful? Is the cost of higher education always worth it?
These are some of the issues Gen Z has been wrestling with and for good reason. Some of the most crucial skills I’ve learned have come from real-world experiences, not school, and I am not alone. Generally, while a college degree is rewarding and can open doors, those big loans have to be paid back and can limit life choices.
It’s no wonder that with Gen Z there’s been a normalization of taking alternative paths and focusing on happiness. We’re working it out - trying to find the right road to follow.
Want to know the funniest part? Despite misconceptions, we are arguably the most productive generation. This goes back to our use of technology - Gen Z knows how to work much more efficiently. We don’t follow the motto “work hard, play hard,” instead we’ve adopted “work smarter, play harder.”
It’s that ability to find faster, more efficient ways to get things done that makes us good candidates. After all, in marketing, where things can change so quickly, time-saving new practices can make all the difference.
Social media outlets have taken over Gen Z’s lives completely and there is no going back. We are at the point where we even shop via these outlets. This gives those of my generation who are pursuing marketing careers a unique and valuable perspective. For instance, here are a few of my recent takeaways.
Instagram Ads: One second you’re scrolling through your daily feed when an advertisement catches your eye, next thing you know you’re on a website purchasing a somewhat random item. You barely gaze at the review section before completing the purchase and anxiously await the 3 to 5 business days for your discovery to arrive. It doesn’t take long for Gen Z to know what they want and to pursue it. The latest shopping journey - consisting of purchasing ease and a better customer experience (CX) - is perfectly suited for them.
TikTok Influencers: TikTok is a short form of video entertainment similar to our old friend, Vine. In the past few years, it’s exploded into much more, including memes, life hacks and cute animal videos. One unexpected outcome is some individuals behind these videos have become “TikTok famous” and paid influencers for brands. They’ll share discount codes and viewers flock to purchase the items. While they might not be big names yet, they will be; TikTok has over 800 million users worldwide. However, anything that looks like a traditional ad will scare them away. Marketers that learn to work with influencers - and consider such things as content challenges and TikTok Ads - could carve out a big audience.
One of the reasons these are such successful platforms is that attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Many people want quick, easily digestible content, Gen Z being perhaps the biggest example. Because it’s such a large group - one that’ll have even more purchasing power in the near future - it’s important marketers capitalize by targeting areas where their interests lie. After all, the popularity of these platforms is going to continue growing.
Those in my generation can help with our deep knowledge of these platforms and how to use their tools in the most engaging ways possible.
The class of 2019 and 2020 have easily been the most affected in their career development by COVID-19. Unfortunately for the class of 2019, they are part of a weird, in-between group where they are ready to apply their skills and knowledge but don’t have the opportunity as fewer companies are hiring right now. As for the class of 2020, the odds of their entire senior year being taught remotely are looking very likely.
But it’s not all doom and gloom.
With business leaders recognizing the financial gains of a remote workforce, and employees enjoying new conveniences, it’s more likely that working from home will be a permanent option. Gen Zs can hit the ground running - we’re used to working like this. And, should there come a time when businesses look to bring more people back into physical offices, no doubt many of us would leap at the chance. We do “play harder” and many would enjoy environments that offer more social opportunities.
Gen Z can bring a unique perspective to the workplace and marketing in particular. And with such numbers - both as employees and consumers - we’re sure to make a big difference on the way business is done and bottom lines.
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