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Four key steps to appeal to Gen Z technology talent

In the battle to secure top technology talent and attract a pipeline of young people, it’s important to understand that Gen Z is attracted to organisations that offer a sense of purpose and the ability to make a difference. This young cohort wants to be part of a team with a true diversity of thought, a mix of age, background, culture, gender and experience, where they can both learn and contribute meaningfully. 

Gen Z is entering the workforce at a key inflection point in the evolution of work. Technology and automation have eliminated many of the more manual and repetitive tasks that were normally the domain of starting out in your career. This cohort has to start out learning more valuable professional skills and employers need to redesign jobs to suit the future of work better.   

At Tesserent, we believe it is critical to encourage the next generation of upcoming talent to pursue a role and pathway into the technology industry. In particular, the cybersecurity sector faces a significant skills shortage, which isn’t just restricted to technical skills. Deep technical skills such as coding are not all that’s required to thrive in this fast-moving sector or to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers. Various cognitive, interpersonal, and digital skills such as problem-solving, collaboration and data analysis are also key. 

When engaging with this key stakeholder audience, we’ve learned that the way we reach out to Gen Z must be different. In particular, we’ve found that Gen Z females prefer to engage in conversations through a personal approach. Careers fairs, flyers and advertisements alone don’t seem to have as much impact on this target audience. 

Despite the myth we hear that Gen Z only want to communicate via email and text, we find at the coal face that young girls seriously considering a career in cybersecurity want to have a conversation about opportunities. This is why talent acquisition specialists that work to connect and engage with future talent must provide a personal experience. It’s about connecting at a level where young girls can see what they can be.

For others keen to succeed in attracting the next generation of young talent and build a strong, diverse future leadership pipeline, consider these four strategies:

1. Have a narrative

You need a strong, engaging story to tell Gen Z about why working in the industry and your organisation will align to their values, foster their passion, and expose them to opportunities, skills and development that will turbocharge their careers. 

2. Take a personal touch

Reach out and take the time to personally engage and talk to prospective Gen Z talent, sharing insights and learnings. They seek personalised career experiences that enable them to apply their diverse skill sets. Help young people to see the contribution and impact they can make in the industry. 

It’s important that your organisation has already taken steps to build an inclusive and diverse culture. This is about more than just thinking about gender and quotas – it is through true diversity of thought, bringing together diverse teams of people to solve problems and provide perspectives that are representative of your customers. A mix of background, culture and experience is paramount. 

3. Fosters work/life balance

Create a workplace that supports young people in achieving and maintaining their work/life balance:  empowering employees to work in hybrid models with a blend of remote work and flexibility. Communicate your inclusive practices and demonstrate that you value your people and support their journey through all life stages. 

The pandemic has accelerated the need to embrace hybrid and flexible working arrangements for the long term. In the fight to make your organisation appealing to Gen Z talent, it’s important to consider work/life balance, upskilling opportunities and career progression. 

4. Language matters

Much of the language around cybersecurity and technology-focused careers uses language that is typically aligned with male stereotypes. For example, rather than looking for “cyber warriors”, write your job ads using terms like “creative problem solvers”. Often, the way we define roles and look for talent may discourage Gen Z female candidates from applying for positions.

Cybersecurity isn’t just about highly technical coders sitting in darkened rooms hunched over green screens or archaic code. Cybersecurity is about problem-solving, education, human behaviour and myriad other skills. By engaging directly with Gen Z and understanding their needs and wants, it’s possible to help this cohort feel they belong and can contribute to the industry’s future development. 

Read more: Small businesses not targeting millennials or Gen Z enough, missing out

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Emmeline McIllree

Emmeline McIllree

Emmeline McIllree is the chief people officer of Australia’s largest ASX listed cyber security company, Tesserent. Prior to this, she was human capital director at PwC and general manager - customer, people & performance at St Kilda Football Club. Emmeline has also held senior leadership human resource roles at Telstra and Australia Post.

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