Generation Z is set to make up over a third of the workforce in 2020, and the oldest of the generation are settling into their careers, or are already moving into their next roles. At Fairygodboss, the largest career community for women, we took a look at what Gen Z women expect from employers, managers, and companies as well as their general opinions about the workplace and their careers.
A surprising and significant takeaway from the survey was the value, or lack thereof, that Gen Z places on long-term, professional relationships. Most notably, over half of the survey respondents have never had an internship and almost a third think you don’t need any internship experience to land a job. And once landing the job, over half (55%) of respondents said that they plan to stay or stayed in their first full-time position for less than four years, and almost a quarter (24%) reported planning to stay or staying for less than a year.
A crucial part of establishing yourself as a professional in an industry is building a strong network, which is typically something that takes time and requires more long-term professional relationships. Not to say that a person can’t build a network while they’re hopping between jobs or even working for themselves. Many individuals can prove this to be true. But it does suggest a major change in the future of career development for this new generation of the workforce.
There’s a well-known statement that 80% of jobs are never posted, meaning that having a robust network may help you get a leg up on these “hidden” opportunities and give you a better chance at accessing them. Yet, from our research, we found that the number one way Gen Z women reported looking for their most recent job or internship was through an online jobs board, followed by their college or university jobs board.
Not to discount the value of a network, the third and fourth most popular ways respondents found their positions were through friends and connection referrals, but when it came to researching companies, Gen Z women still rely on digital sources like the company website (69%), social media (49%), and company review websites (44%) as their main sources of information. To sum it up: Gen Z women don’t believe it’s who you know, but rather it’s what you know that matters.
While the notion of changing jobs one or more times in the span of a few years is a foreign concept for some individuals, it may actually stand to benefit this new generation of workers. Overwhelmingly, throughout the survey, we found that the aspect of any job that respondents value most is the compensation. Sixty-three percent of female respondents said the most important quality they look for in a company is that it pays well. When asked if they could only have one thing at their next or first full-time job, 53% of respondents said they want a high salary. This may also explain why over half of respondents have never had an internship where the pay is very low or, sometimes, even nonexistent.
Perhaps changing jobs is the best way to get that desired high salary. Research has shown that when individuals stay in their jobs for too long they may actually lose money, as compared to if they changed jobs. When you accept a base salary for a position, you can only receive raises based on a certain percentage of that salary. If you’re a master negotiator, you might be able to get the raise you want every time, but for many others, the only way to get a 10% or 20% (or more) pay increase is to change jobs where you can ask for a higher starting salary.
It will be interesting to watch as Gen Z continues to enter the workforce and make up a larger portion of working individuals and see how their opinions change, or if they stay the same. Members of this generation are only beginning their careers, so they’re here for the long haul–although maybe not too long.
Georgene Huang is the CEO and cofounder of Fairygodboss.