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“If employers are requiring experience that Gen-Zers haven’t had the opportunity to gain yet, and Gen-Zers are setting their sights high for their first job, companies are going to continue to struggle to recruit the talent they need,” says Welch.

It’s a lose-lose for both sides—unless we find a way to flip the script and break free from this catch-22 situation.

Reset expectations

It’s worth looking at how Gen-Z graduates are planning to open the next chapter of their lives. “For starters, Gen-Z isn’t just looking for a job out of college,” says Welch, “they’re looking to start their career.” According to Tallo research, some 69% of Gen-Z said finding work that’s personally fulfilling is very important to them. This seems to indicate that Gen-Z job seekers have higher expectations for their first career move than previous generations have held.

But for those new grads looking to land their first job, Welch suggests embracing adaptability, innovation and new opportunities. “At the current rate of advancements in automation and new technology, the specific jobs that Gen-Zers grew up envisioning for themselves may not exist in the same form by the time they enter the job market,” he says. The first step is getting your foot in the door—maybe not the door you first imagined, but an opportunity nonetheless.

“I encourage Gen-Z to look at this as a positive rather than a hindrance; this new generation has the chance to become real pioneers in their fields.”

Broaden the recruitment funnel

When employers insist that candidates must have relevant past experience to be successful and productive, they create an impossibly narrow recruitment funnel, says Welch. “Recent grads who finished their education virtually may not have been able to secure the internships or part-time jobs that recruiters expect, as many of these opportunities were canceled or drastically scaled back during the pandemic,” he says.

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What employers should do instead, says Welch, is to expand their search to find candidates who will be the “right fit” in terms of their values and alignment with the company culture. For both sides to escape this catch-22, the recruitment funnel must be broadened.

Make long-term investments and commitments

Another ah-ha moment for employers is that Gen-Z truly is a unique generation. “I see a lot of employers making the grave mistake of treating Gen-Zers like Millennials,” says Welch. “But companies can’t take a ‘one size fits all’ approach to recruiting younger talent.”

While some employers might be reluctant to invest in training entry-level employees who could leave in a year or two, this might not be such a gamble with Gen-Z. Unlike the “job-hopping” Millennials, many Gen-Zers are looking to stay at their first full-time job for several years. In fact, 51% of Gen-Zers plan to stay at their first job for at least three years, a number that has gone up from 43% in 2019.