By 2030, Gen Z will make up 30% of the workforce.
That’s a mere eight years away, yet the way these young professionals are already interacting with employers is going to change the workplace even more quickly. Handshake, the platform that connects students and employers, surveyed over 1,200 alumni and soon-to-be graduates as well as analyzed more than 2 million connections this year. The research reveals that this group is approaching networking and job seeking much more virtually than ever before—a trend that the company says has been kicked into high gear by the pandemic. COVID-19 notwithstanding, Gen Z is not only optimistic but quite ready to toss out the playbook and write their own ticket to career opportunity.
- Nearly 7 in 10 job seekers believe that they do not need to meet in person to forge a meaningful professional connection.
- Women are 26% more likely than men to believe you do not need to meet in person to make a professional connection.
- 87% of job seekers believe that messaging with an employer may lead to a job.
- Across gender, race, ethnicity, and first-generation student status, 8 in 10 agree that it’s easier for them to learn about a career they’re interested in and make a wider range of professional connections than was possible in their parents’ generation.
“With two-thirds of respondents reporting they believe professional connections can occur completely online, the ongoing question is not whether Gen Z is willing to get out from behind their screens, but rather will they even have to?” Christine Cruzvergara, Handshake’s chief education strategy officer tells Fast Company. The report notes that Gen Z regards the internet as the “path to social capital—a wealth of information, resources, and network potential, facilitating access to a richer job pool and catalyzing broader professional networks than their parents.”
The research did point out that “who you know” is still important. However, those connections can be made virtually as well. The report states that 92% of alumni would pay it forward by helping a fellow alumnus find a job. “If virtual networking is the most effective way to optimize a career and has many side benefits around inclusion and convenience, says Cruzvergara, “Gen Zers will undoubtedly leverage their digital-native skills for the foreseeable future.”