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Generation Z demands rethinking: Companies are the applicants - the new reality recruitment

Blog post by Stefano Pettinella - Partner & Pet Industry Lead | Riebensahm Agribusiness Recruiting



Everyone is talking about a shortage of qualified candidates within the job market due to. You would think everyone understands what this is all about!


Incorrect!


The shortage of qualified candidates in Germany is not only the result of changing demographics, and changing attitudes and expectations amongst more recent generations, in particular GenZ.


It also implies the need for behavioral change in the application process!


The generations are getting smaller: While GenX (1965-79) in Germany still totaled to around 16.8 million people, in GenZ (1995-2010) there are only 12.2 million, i.e., 27.4% less!


This means that the supply is shrinking, with the same or increasing demand, which in simple commercial terms means: the price goes up!


The material price or remuneration of candidates is not what I am addressing here, but the price with respect to the need to question established patterns of behavior and processes and, where necessary or sensible, to adjust them.


Britta Beste, personnel developer and trainer with a focus on the German pet trade, appropriately made a point about the change from an employer’s to an employee’s market during this year's German Pet Retail Conference (“ZZF”): "We are now the applicants!"


But what does the necessary change in behavior and process mean specifically in the recruitment process of new employees?


We know only too well the cookie-cutter competencies expected of every applicant: flexibility, high communication and teamwork skills, resilience or, of course, decisiveness, to name just a few.


But watch out! These apply equally to those involved in the recruitment process on the employer’s side!


We also know that the meaningfulness of work and a healthy work-life balance have a much higher priority for Generation Z than traditional materialistic benefits.


If you want to be taken seriously and perceived as an attractive employer, this begins no later than during the application process.



Here are some typical examples to illustrate what candidates don’t want to witness:


  • No communication from the company after receiving an application

  • The application process is not followed

  • Those involved in the interview are not aligned and send mixed signals to the candidate

  • Follow-up and decisions are unnecessarily prolonged from the applicant's point of view, there are no updates along the way, even if it is foreseeable that the process will be delayed

  • Questions are answered ambiguously

  • Dogmatic adherence to defined recruitment criteria with limited consideration of an applicant's individual potential


These examples speak for themselves and call for behavioral and process changes.


Therefore, an appeal to all companies that are looking to fill key roles – set the example by exhibiting the same skills that you expect from candidates:


  • Agility in a differentiated assessment of each applicant, even if they do not correspond 100% to the set criteria

  • Honesty and respect: Be authentic and show the values you stand for

  • Reliability: say what you do and do what you say. This has become particularly important given the shrinking pool of talented applicants who increasingly appreciate this value.

  • Decisiveness and courage: The possibility of being able to choose from several candidates at the same time is still possible, but has become a luxury. If you have an applicant who fits the more personal specifications and who fulfills the really essential skills, do not wait for the second, third or further candidate.


There is no such thing as a “Jack-of-all-trades”! But there are a lot of top candidates of individual strengths, who are very motivated to make their contribution to the further success of the company! And the better ones never remain available for long.

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