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Employer branding for Gen Y & Z: Interview with Philipp Klein

If you want to attract the best talent for your company these days, you have to overcome a few challenges. In addition to the shortage of skilled workers and increasing digitization, there are two new generations on the job market that need to be inspired: Generation Y and Z.

What requirements do these target groups have of their employers and how can companies optimize their employer branding in order to win over Gen Y and Z for themselves?

Today we are talking to Philipp Klein, Co-Founder of StudyAds and an expert in employer branding for Generation Z, about exactly these questions.

Hello Philipp, please introduce yourself briefly to the readers. What solutions do you offer your customers with StudyAds?

Hello and first of all, thank you very much for inviting me to the interview. I'm Philipp Klein, HR blogger on HRtalk.de and co-founder of the StudyAds agency. With our agency, we have specialized in the young target group and advise organizations on how to reach them.

My great passion is the think tank for new products or the optimization of existing products or processes. For this reason I also started to write my blog, on which I publish my “crazy” ideas and want to share them with the world. True to the motto “sharing is caring”.

The term “war for talent” is used over and over again. What are the challenges employers face today?

I am much more surprised that the term does not yet have an entry in the Duden, as often as it is now used. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of this, but basically it brings exactly that on point where we are currently at. The war for the best talent.

Arguably the biggest challenge employers face is looking for a difference between the generations. Stiffen up on it and, in the worst case, turn in circles. There are more similarities than you might think, only the display medium has changed. What the television was then is now the smartphone. Magazines that were liked to read today are the Internet and influencers. All in all, there was just a shift in the channels on which companies were supposed to advertise.

"The difficulty lies in choosing the right channels for the respective trainee campaign."

Another important property of Gen Z is the purpose of the activity or occupation to be performed. This characteristic means that Gen Z does not simply “work according to the rules”, but often asks “why”. The Questioning work tasks is an absolute no-go for many executives and initially an unfamiliar situation in the office with today's youth.

Whoever got it right to the point, Prof. Dr. Antje-Britta Mörstedt, in her lecture and YouTube video, she explains that we, the previous generations, the parents, contribute to Gen Z questioning everything and also daring to ask these questions to their superiors. Spoiler alert: don't we include our children in almost all decisions ?! It is precisely this involvement that makes our children self-confident and gives them the courage to question their tasks with the employer.

Another challenge lies in the career side of companies.

“A simple list of open job positions is stale and ensures that the candidate leaves the career page quickly. The aim is to make the company attractive to the candidate on the career page. "

Let's build a bridge to product marketing and take the top dog Apple to heart as an example. Apple is a way of life, a trendsetter, a lifestyle that stands for design and quality! All of this is also communicated on Apple's product page. It is almost a Hollywood experience to visit Apple's product page.

This is exactly the example we have to take for our careers page - make your company attractive to the candidates! It has to blow you away that you don't want to work in any other company than yours. As soon as the applicant has decided on your company, he has to get to the “Apply now” button with at least 3 clicks, regardless of where he is on the career page. Because that is the goal of a career page that the candidate clicks on "apply now".

What are the Z & Y generations? What are your expectations of your employer?

Both similarities and differences can be identified. So are both generations are familiar with digital media. They are used to carrying the knowledge of all of humanity with them and feel it Digitization as consistently positive. In terms of work-life balance, too, life is more important to them than work. A self-actualization effect is more important than salary. This is one of the reasons why job advertisements that make sense are more successful than those that do not provide any information.

The differences, in turn, result from the similarities. While the Gen Y still know the old button cell phones or VHS tapes, the Gen Z has grown up with smartphones, tablets and Netflix. That distinguishes itself when dealing with the media. Gen Y acts more passively on social media and takes the position as a spectator. Gen Z, however, are content creators, active participants in the action, they want to get involved, make a difference! The most recent example is the TikTok campaign against Trump, in which the seats in Trump's election halls were almost empty.

“This procedure is also what you expect from your employer. You want to participate, make a difference, give the whole thing a meaning and maybe rebel a little. "

Doesn't each of us have a little rebel in us and would like to live it out? ;)

What does this mean for the employer branding of companies? How do companies manage to successfully retain employees of this generation?

Two questions that I have to answer differently.

I have been doing interviews with Gen Z representatives (high school and university students) about their perfect employer for some time in order to find the answer to these questions.

What does this mean for the employer branding of an organization? The appropriate answer to this question could also be referred to as the Holy Grail. A uniform employer branding measure that can be used equally on all companies is simply impossible.

"Just as the generations develop, so does the employer brand - a living organism that has to constantly adapt to its environment."

Retaining today's youth is also a complex task. By the way: It's hard to believe that in some organizations all tasks should be carried out by the HR department.

"To bind it means to offer the right opportunities for advancement and benefits."

In the interviews I could see that too Home office is becoming more and more important for Gen Z. Why waste precious life commuting when the most important tasks can be done within your own four walls. Of course it is type dependent, but the possibility should be there. Small calculation example for a 5-day work week, one hour commuting a day, is 5 hours a week, 20 hours a month, 240 hours a year, which in turn is 10 days that we waste commuting to work each year. I ask just like Gen Z: Why?

They are also very popular Further training opportunities, a win-win situation for employees and employers. The more qualified the employee, the more valuable he becomes for the company and the employee increases his chances of advancement in the company and of course in the labor market. You heard correctly, it sounds abstract at first, but you bind Gen Z by not binding them.

What personnel marketing measures can companies take to best address this target group?

Sometimes I mix personnel marketing and recruiting, one or the other might want to jump at my neck when I say that 😄 Currently social recruiting is a big hype, in connection with active sourcing. In itself makes sense when used correctly. Always think about how would you feel? Would you jump on it? The best example: Many actively advertise their vacancies on Instagram at Gen Z. Under the advertisement is of course the link to the landing page. There are now two variants:

Version 1: You come to the careers page and can read through everything and apply directly. The approach isn't wrong at first, but Gen Z is out and about on Instagram with their smartphones. You come to the careers page and oh yeah I have my résumé and cover letter on my mobile phone too, so I apply directly. You can already see that something is going wrong. The candidate is currently in school, on the bus or in the swimming pool. He is only briefly connected and would have to open the career page again on his laptop in order to be able to apply. You already had the student on your side and there is a 70% probability that you will lose him because he has to change his device or, in the worst case, he forgets the (job) advertisement.

Variant 2: With his smartphone he comes to an extra landing page where the pupil or student can apply by answering a few questions, ideally 3. He can still submit his references or his curriculum vitae, but only after he is in the applicant funnel and has left his contact details. With the correct use of active sourcing, potential candidates can be generated here.

I think which variant is more successful is self-explanatory. But let's go one step further!

"With the use of the right tracking tools, the candidates who were on their career page can be recorded and the advertisements can always be targeted to precisely these people."

After all, the interest was there that they clicked on the careers page. This funnel can also be used in such a targeted manner that candidates are addressed who have broken off the application in between and simply need to be reminded again. #Retargeting

Which channels are best suited to reach generations Z and Y?

Channels are added every day to reach the youth. If we look at social media platforms then it is definite Instagram still the leading platform. TikTok is on the rise, but here too it has Facebook the function of short videos with music integrated in Instagram. Whether the function will prevail on Instagram “Reels” and TikTok useless, time will tell. Likewise Snapchat is a popular tool of Gen Z. What perhaps no one has on their screen is “Tellonym”. A profile of questions and answers is built up on the young platform. But it is still too early here to be able to say that the next yodel or Snapchat is on the rise.

For offline variants, two answers stuck in my mind in my Gen Z interviews. I quote this time:

When asked, "Which advertising medium do you remember most?" I got the following cool answer:

Seriously, the advertising posters on the toilets. I mean, I'm here and I won't get out of here anytime soon, what should I do, not read the poster in front of my nose? I think I can list every company that bought advertising space over a urinal at university in the three and a half years of my studies. ” - Gerrit

And when asked, "Which advertising medium would you recommend companies to reach students?" I got the following logical answer:

“.In my opinion, the only mistake that many companies make here is that they set up stands in the entrance area of ​​the cafeteria and then try to talk to students at peak times. But of course this is only moderately successful because every student who comes from a 600-man lecture knows that if he talks to the nice young man from ADAC for 2 minutes, he will be in line for the schnitzel for 20 minutes .

But especially in summer there are always students scattered across the green spaces of the campus and its cafés, and these students are usually very relaxed and in a good mood. Why you are not approached by promoters more often is questionable to me.

In conclusion, both answers are totally logical, so the following applies: Put yourself back in the position of the student, how would you have liked to have been addressed? Where did you have time and in which situation did you just want to get hold of a schnitzel quickly?

Which trends in employer branding and personnel marketing do you think will become more and more important in the future?

Heart! Every year, as an alumni, I take part in the annual meeting of my old school. This is where parents, schoolchildren, company representatives and alumni meet and discuss future events and measures for alumni and schoolchildren. I remember a discussion between students and parents about the form in which the invitation to the summer party should be sent.

The parents were against an invitation in the form of a letter and would like to have it digitally, but the students gave roughly the following answer: "In this day and age we are inundated by digital media. A simple invitation as an email is nowhere near as "valuable" as a letter. " Holding something in your hand is becoming more and more important and lends an additional immaterial and emotional value. Now I don't want to be the ambassador who says, everyone is doing print advertising again, no, definitely not.

"But if a company wants to address a candidate, it should add one or two emotional values."

In the digital arena, I believe that Active sourcing and approaching passive candidates a successful course in attracting applicants to its vacancies. In the course of the growing tasks for HR managers, alternative and suitable HR software must be found that automate some processes so that you can concentrate on the important things: Attracting for talents.

Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?

Gen Z is contagious and transfers its values ​​to previous generations. In the meantime, the term generation is only an expression of when someone was born. Many Gen X or Y’lers act and think like Z’ler. Defending yourself against it is like trying to stop the progress of digitization. Get involved and learn from each other to create a pleasant relationship in the working world.

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