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New Research Reveals What Each Generation Needs from Recruiters for Successful Virtual Recruitment

It’s no surprise that each generation has its own specific priorities and values. It’s not advisable to stereotype or rely on preconceived biases about the age groups. However, to effectively recruit talent with diverse experience and skills, it’s essential to understand candidates across generations have slightly different versions of interacting with people, competence with technology, and expectations for the workplace. 

When strategizing for your recruiting solutions, it’s essential to keep even small differences in mind. For this reason, we surveyed 512 respondents from ages 18 to 65+ in September 2020 to gauge what virtual recruitment looks like through the eyes of job seekers. Our results reveal that the generations have distinct preferences regarding virtual recruitment practices. 

As you might expect, satisfaction with virtual recruitment decreases with each generation: Gen Z 7%, millennials 12.9%, Gen X 14.2%, and Baby Boomers 16.3%. However, the majority of respondents feel the virtual process has positively impacted their job search experience. 

To build off the momentum of positive experiences and limit dissatisfaction, we’ve assembled a quick guide to help you attract top talent through virtual recruitment. 

Keep these candidate personas in mind and apply what top talent needs most from you as a recruiter to optimize their virtual recruitment experience:


Generation Z

It’s safe to say that most members of Gen Z (18-23) like the virtual process. 

Their top value to keep in mind in your recruiting solutions is personability. Gen Z finds the process more personable than older generations, with 86% agreeing it is at least somewhat personable. However, their top reason to turn down a job offer is if virtual communications makes them feel less connected to the interviewer. Disappointing their confidence in virtual recruitment personability could be irredeemable. 

Likes: 

One of Gen Z’s favorite parts about virtual recruitment is the option to interview in the comfort of their own home. As the generation with the least experience with traditional recruitment practices, it makes sense that removing the intimidation of interviewing at an office location would ease some nerves. 

Dislikes: 

At the same time, however, Gen Z struggles more than other generations to find an appropriate location for their interviews. 21.1% in Gen Z report that this is difficult for them compared to the 11.9% of Millennials, 10% of Gen X, and 10.4% of Baby Boomers. This is understandable, as they are the least likely to own their own homes, and finding privacy from roommates or younger siblings could be challenging. 

Surprisingly, the survey results reveal Gen Z’s least favorite virtual recruitment aspect was technology issues, with 52.6% saying they disliked it the most. Most recruiters assume Gen Z is the most confident and competent with technology, but they may need more virtual interview tech support than previously thought. 


Millennials

Millennials (24-38) may come across as fairly apathetic about the virtual recruitment process but they still have their priorities.

As with Gen Z, the No. 1 reason they would consider turning down a job offer would be if they felt less connected to the interviewer due to virtual communications. However, millennials (55.9%) care less about meeting the recruiter in person than Gen Z (57.8%), Gen X (58.4%), and Baby Boomers (58.5%). Transparent and frequent communication is the most critical part of the entire recruitment process when brainstorming recruitment solutions for millennial candidates.  

Likes: 

Nearly half of millennials agree that the time efficiency (48.5%) and flexible scheduling (49.5%) of virtual recruitment are excellent. Given that millennials are more likely than any other generation to have a young family, work more than one job, and/or pursue advanced degrees, their time is supremely valuable. 

While it is less important to them than it is to other generations, they also appreciate the comfort of interviewing from their own home. In fact, just 41.6% of millennials said they like the comfort of interviewing from their own home, compared to 61.4% of Gen Z, 52.6% of Gen X, and 48.2% of Baby Boomers.

Dislikes: 

It’s true millennials are more tolerant of some of the common issues in virtual interviewing than other generations. However, recruiters must be vigilant to negate slip-ups in these categories, as they could still result in losing top talent: 

  • Millennials miss being able to meet the recruiter, but less so than other generations. 56.3% note it as one of their least favorite aspects of virtual interviewing. 
  • 33.9% shared that they dislike feeling like they don’t fully understand the culture. 
  • They also find problems with technology frustrating, as 27.2% agree it was something they dislike.


Generation X

Gen X (39-53) is much more optimistic about the virtual recruitment process than millennials.

Similar to Gen Z, Gen X needs virtual recruitment to be a personable process. Compared to Gen Z and Baby Boomers, they are less likely to find it personable, with only 77% affirming that they believe it is. Gen X is most likely to consider turning down a job offer if they don’t feel connected to the interviewer.

Likes: 

Gen X loves that the virtual recruitment process is efficient and easy to navigate. Over 90% of Gen X survey respondents indicated that these were positive traits of the process. In fact, time efficiency stands out to them so much, 60.6% listed it as their favorite part of virtual recruitment.

Dislikes: 

As previously mentioned, Gen X dislikes missing out on meeting the recruiter in person. While there’s no recruitment solution to replace meeting in person, there are plenty of ways to make up for it by engaging the candidates and showing some personability in virtual settings. 



Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers (54-74) are more experienced and confident with the virtual recruitment process than you might think. 

The most important thing for Baby Boomers to get out of virtual recruitment is a good understanding of the position’s role expectations. They are not willing to go through the process of researching the company, reviewing the job description, communicating virtually with a recruiter, and having a series of interviews and still not understand the expectations.

All other generations indicated that the No. 1 reason they would consider turning down a job offer would be if virtual communications made them feel less connected to the interviewer. However, Baby Boomers said it would be if virtual communications made it difficult to understand role expectations. 

Likes: 

When it comes to what they like about the virtual recruitment process, Baby Boomers had a lot of praise for it. 88% find the virtual recruitment process personable, 92.6% efficient, and 93% easy to use. 

Dislikes: 

As one might predict, the oldest generation in the workforce struggles a bit with the technology learning curve. However, tech issues came in second as their least favorite aspect of virtual interviewing. 

Their least favorite was not meeting the recruiter in person. This generation tends to be the most traditional when it comes to face-to-face interactions, so it makes sense that this is the biggest hurdle for recruiters who can’t get in front of Baby Boomers.

Ultimately, your goal as a recruiter is to ensure all candidates receive a fair opportunity to reveal their best selves. Understanding the possible nuances that stand out between generations enables you to empower candidates to present their strengths and feel confident their preferences, and even weaknesses, will not hinder their ability to connect with you in the recruitment process.


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