Because of the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, young people who are still early in their careers have found themselves job hunting in disproportionate numbers. Many were, after all, precariously employed to begin with. Still, even for those who were able to keep their roles during the past eighteen months, the pandemic revealed aspects of many workplaces that didn’t align with personal values or were simply unsustainable. So, what happens next?

Whatever the motivations behind the numbers, 35% of Gen Z and millennial workers are looking for new jobs, and it’s important that those in a position to hire keep this fact in mind. What will it take to hire these young professionals for the long-term? While it starts with a meaningful desire to recruit from among this demographic, that’s just the beginning.

Understanding Your Applicants

When compared to your current workforce, there are certainly a number of traits that set millennials and Gen Z apart from your past hires. For example, young professionals are often characterized as job hoppers, but that has more to do with the opportunities they’ve been presented than their innate character. Most would actually like more stability – though not necessarily stability accompanied by a quick climb through the professional ranks – but it has to be with a company that’s a good fit and allows for a reasonable amount of growth and influence.

Acknowledge Their Abilities

What if, instead of wedging young professionals into entry-level jobs that don’t use their skills, or forcing them to bend to inefficient ways of doing things, your workforce actually hired in ways that reflect their abilities? This is the sort of query that both frustrates and seems self-evident to many hiring managers, and yet few seem to embrace such an approach.

Young professionals are tech-savvy, inventive, digital natives who have an innate understanding of key topics like branding and marketing and communications. They grew up online and that means approaching these topics differently from those who had to learn about the tools as adults.

For a better understanding of how young professionals understand their role in the workplace and, more importantly, what they wish it could be, check out this blog, sites like Ask A Manager, and other digital resources that serve young people trying to navigate professional settings.

Be Flexible

Millennials and, to an even greater extent, members of Gen Z aren’t inherently bound by norms. Just because something has “always been done this way” doesn’t mean they’ll just accept that. And, if those old norms aren’t in alignment with their personal ethics or they don’t think they’re being treated fairly in the workplace, they will go elsewhere. While it’s true, as noted above, that these young professionals leave jobs due to a lack of opportunity, they’re also so-called job hoppers precisely because they won’t put up with working conditions, including imbalances like a lack of diversity, that previous generations didn’t see as a problem.

The current population of young professionals who make up a large percentage of current job applicants are deeply aware of the ways they’ve been disadvantaged by the economy, as well as being attuned to some of the big changes to the working world, like the decline of unions.

This makes them discerning applicants and employees, and you need to be equally conscious of those issues. If you’re not asking the big questions about topics like equal pay, family leave, labor organizing, and wages that haven’t kept up with the cost of living, you will struggle to hire and retain workers from these generations. Do you have what it takes?