Gen Z’s New ‘Happy Place’

Gen Zers are among the most active users on LinkedIn. Could their career ambitions be greater than leaders believe?

Most corporate leaders are not particularly optimistic about the next generation moving into the workforce. Indeed, three out of four managers in a recent survey say Gen Z employees lack effort and motivation.

But they may be mistaken. LinkedIn, the professional networking site, notes that Gen Z users are its fastest-growing demographic group, accounting for nearly 22% of its users and trailing only millennials.

The trend is gaining attention in mainstream business-news outlets and lifestyle magazines, which observe that LinkedIn is Gen Z’s “happy place,” and this has come at the expense of other social networks like Twitter.

While it’s tempting to chalk up the increase to disenchanted job-hoppers, experts say leaders would be wrong to do so. “It’s a microcosm of the broader changes in the talent market,” says David Ellis, Korn Ferry’s vice president for global talent acquisition transformation in North America.

It’s no secret that Gen Z—some 68 million Americans (and 2 billion worldwide) born between the late 90s and early 2000s—is increasingly eschewing college and entering the job market instead. At the same time, Ellis says, the focus on learning agility and skills-based hiring has opened career opportunities never before available to young workers.

 “Gen Z is super resourceful about building their own career paths,” says Juliana Barela, vice president and general manager of recruitment process outsourcing in North America for Korn Ferry. Put another way, they’re using LinkedIn not to climb the corporate ladder, but rather to circumvent it.

Barela says LinkedIn’s popularity with Gen Z workers highlights shortcomings in corporate recruitment and retention efforts. It suggests, she says, that firms should consider doing a better job of connecting young workers with mentors, providing adequate training and development options, aligning with their values, and more.

In the absence of these things, Gen Zers are taking control of their own careers, using digital tools to figure out who to connect with, which new skills to learn, and other ways to advance their careers. “They have a clear idea of what they want to do and where they want to go,” says Barela. “They just have a different approach for how to get there.”


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