They are cause-driven, they are tech-savvy, and they are innovators. The initial research on this generation—born between 1995 and 2010—tells us that we have a bright future ahead. Most of their characteristics and behaviors stem from worldly events and trends of their youth. Most members of Generation Z have little memory of 9/11, they watched their parents make budget cuts after the 2008 recession, and the Middle East has always been in a state of unrest. The internet moved from a desktop to a laptop to a mobile device at rapid speed during their childhoods. They can access the news of any current event at any time and don’t have to wait for (or even watch) the evening news like previous generations. According to a study of Generation Z conducted by Meghan Grace and Corey Seemiller, the following findings are important to know for those of us looking to eventually hire this group of leaders into our organizations:

  • They are intra-personal learners and prefer individual over group work.
  • They care passionately about issues related to education, employment, and racial equality.
  • They are motivated by making a difference for others and not so much by public recognition.
  • Their social circles are diverse and they support diversity and inclusion.
  • They prefer to “do” rather than to “lead” when working in groups.
  • They love technology but prefer face-to-face communication.
  • They are social change minded and would rather engage in community work that addresses the underlying cause of an issue than engage in short-term service to address the symptoms.
  • They lean left on social issues and, on financial issues, are center to right.
  • They use social media but prefer to share on Instagram and follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Their findings will undoubtedly affect our ability to hire these eventual executives. For starters, the research uncovered that nearly 50% of Gen Z students currently in college or graduate school want to work for themselves. It would be logical to see engagement in entrepreneurial endeavors and invention go up dramatically. The primary agenda will be one of employing innovation to address issues and create a more efficient society. For those of us in the people recruitment business, we should acknowledge now that it will be more and more uncommon for this generation to seek traditional employment after graduation, rather they will create their own opportunities.

Ready or not, here they come!