Skepticism around Gen Z students’ academic rigor has led some to speculate a level of entitlement absent from previous generations. Regardless of whether higher education faculty would like to comment further on that, employers have made their thoughts abundantly clear in a new survey from ResumeBuilder.com.
Nearly a third of employers hiring entry-level positions admitted to avoiding selecting Gen Zers. They pointed to specific gripes they had with them in the hiring process; more than a third of all employers said they ask for too much money, lack communication skills, aren’t prepared, don’t ask questions and aren’t engaged.
Yes, entitlement cropped back up: six in 10 said they possessed this trait. Employers believe they displayed entitlement by getting offended too easily (59%), not responding well to feedback (58%) and lacking work ethic and motivation (57%).
However, Stacie Haller, chief career advisor at ResumeBuilder, posits a deeper challenge Gen Zers face than being entitled. Rather, they lack foundational workplace skills due to the pandemic.
“Many Gen Zers spent their college years predominantly in remote or hybrid settings, and upon entering the workforce, they often started in remote roles,” she said. “This departure from the traditional in-person learning environment impacted their ability to hone crucial skills, such as effective communication, handling constructive criticism, and observing others to build their professional acumen.”
Gen Zer’s shortcomings make sense from this lens, considering employers’ biggest criticisms of applicants: They struggle with eye contact and lack communication skills. Similarly, a “growing gap” has emerged between university qualifications and proof of proficiency in general 21st-century skills, according to an international report from 2016 to 2021 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Gen Zer’s biggest competition: Their parents?
Haller believes managers lean toward hiring applicants with a track record of proficiency and who can easily integrate into the workplace culture. One cohort sitting squarely in this category is older workers.
About one-fifth of workers 60 years old and up, primarily baby boomers, are working at nearly double the rate compared to 30 years ago and are more satisfied with their jobs than other generations today, according to a pair of reports from Pew Research. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development identified that workforces comprised of 10% or more older workers have a 4% lower turnover rate than companies with a lower proportion.
Despite being older, baby boomers are displaying vigor to continue working, whether due to unrealistic retirement windows or the desire for extra cash on the side. According to a Gallup poll, this cohort may be motivated solely to maintain a well-balanced social life that incorporates a sustained interest in working and contributing to society. These interests point to why baby boomers display more engagement with their work-life than millennials and the same amount as Gen Zers.