Mar 28 2022
From personal branding tips to curated job postings, this platform is helping Gen Z prep for the new realities of work…
YPulse’s What’s Next for Work Trend Report found that the most important thing to Gen Z when thinking about their future career is finding a job that they enjoy doing. By now we all know that work culture—in the corporate world, that is—has shifted significantly, and remote work has become a long-term norm. Our trend research also shows 45% of young people think hybrid work will be the norm in five years. Gen Z is entering the workforce during a time of immense accelerated change, facing a host of new challenges. These changes will have a significant impact on how Gen Z navigates the workforce, for good. Enter Generation Hired. An online career resource center helping Gen Z college students and entry-level employees kick start their career. Generation Hired offers resources for both Gen Z job seekers and companies looking for young talent. We talked to Windsor Hanger Western, the co-founder and president at Her Campus Media-owned Generation Hired to hear how they’re connecting Gen Z with work opportunities while helping them build the skills they need to stand out.
YPulse: How did Generation Hired get started?
Windsor Western: As you and everyone in the world is aware, COVID-19 posed many challenges. Everyone was affected by COVID-19, and our job at Her Campus Media is to serve, empower, and uplift as many college women as possible to make sure they’re set up to be the most successful versions of themselves. So, as the pandemic was ravaging the country, colleges were shut down. One area that we identified that had been impacted were on-campus career resources. Your campus career center is not something you can access if you’re not on campus. We realized this entire ecosystem of that transition from college to career had been totally disrupted. So, we looked at our resources, we looked at what we were really good at, and we decided we needed to step in and build a virtual campus career center to fill that void.
YPulse: How does the virtual campus career center work both on the employer and consumer side?
WW: Generation Hired is a members-only resource portal intended for current college students and young people within the first two years of their careers post-graduation. For those students, we really have three different big opportunities. We have Generation Hired Advice, which is a self-guided career advice path that they can take, whether they’re focused on finding the job, landing the job, crushing the job, or being their own boss. Within each of those four areas, we have an entire syllabus or roadmap of what you need to do if you are figuring out what kind of job you want, you’ve got the job and you want to figure out how to be really good at it, or you want to be your own boss. That’s one area of Generation Hired that we provide for students. The next area is we have a job board where we curate opportunities. We look into the companies that we feature. We want to make sure they’ve got best practices and are good places for Gen Z to work, and then we curate a list. At any given time, there’s going to be about 50 hand-curated opportunities for our members that they can look at and are constantly refreshed. We have our virtual events, which are seminars, and office hours series where we bring in industry executives and experts to come in and provide advice. For example, we have a woman who works at Hasbro who is going to talk about Women in Toys. So, there’s a few different ways that students can get involved. For companies, they can come in and of course, they can apply to have their jobs posted within the job board. We’re going to be rolling out employer pages where we let companies have an opportunity to talk about why it’s amazing to work at their company, what the advantages are to working at their company, and what they provide to Gen Z.
YPulse: When GH launched during the pandemic, what was your strategy for helping connect young job seekers with potential employers? How has this changed over the course of the pandemic?
WW: Our strategy for helping job seekers certainly has changed. We have to keep very close attention to the trends while looking at the fact that more members of Gen Z are interested in fully-remote work for an indefinite period of time. We’ve had to adjust our strategy of, ‘Are we just talking about office culture?’ Or, is it virtual office culture? We had a whole series themed around temporary work settings at the beginning [of Generation Hired]. We were telling Gen Z employees, “Temporarily, you’re going to be interviewing on Zoom. Temporarily, you might not ever meet your coworkers.” But now it’s, “You might never meet your coworkers. You might only interview on Zoom.” You know, people talk about the pandemic being a trend accelerator, and we were already headed in this direction. Well, they feel a lot more permanent now, and we’ve definitely adjusted our strategy to what the future of work is moving toward and how that has rapidly shifted in the last two years.
YPulse: What are you seeing as some of the top issues Gen Z workers want out of their job and career?
WW: I’m seeing a large conversation about the elimination of the fluffy perks. It’s not about, ‘You get to wear jeans on Fridays, and you can bring your dog to work, and we have a ping pong table.’ That doesn’t matter to Gen Z. They want to be fairly compensated. They’re interested in pay transparency. They want benefits. They want stability. They want equity within the workforce. They want things to be fair. They’re interested in diversity, equity, and inclusion. They’re interested in making sure that there’s representation across organizations, not just entry level, but all the way up. So, they’re definitely a different generation. They’re a generation that cares about what companies stand for and why the company exists, not just what they do.
YPulse: Based on your experience, are you seeing any gaps in what Gen Z wants out of their career and where potential employers aren’t fulfilling?
WW: I think we’re in a really interesting place right now with the job market and The Great Resignation. There’s a lot happening. One, Gen Z is very different from Millennials. Two, The Great Resignation and the entire job market has been totally shaken up. I do think there’s a disconnect between the way that hiring processes are set up. They were set up and they haven’t really changed to evolve. It’s very inefficient. Students will apply to a hundred jobs. Jobs will receive hundreds to one thousand applicants and it seems like there are just so many inefficiencies within that process, and there’s a ripe opportunity to come in and fix that.
YPulse: How are you using social media to connect with and empower young workers?
WW: Social media is everything, and we are doing education on building your online persona and your brand. We’re presenting a “Ready To Be Hired” career accelerator program this summer. We haven’t launched it yet, but it’s going to be a four-week program in June going through all the training that we’re doing. We do want to make sure that the way that students are using social media is intentional and that they know it’s going to be viewed by future employers. And we tell them that that’s not just a liability. It’s also an enormous opportunity. There’s so much creativity that can be shown on social media. There’s so much of a person that you can showcase using all the tools out there on Instagram and TikTok, in particular, on Twitter as well, that you can build this entire persona that a brand can really understand, and you can put it out there in a public place. We tell our communities to list their social handles on their resume because recruiters are probably going to look at those first. It’s an opportunity for them to show off who they are and to come across as a well-rounded person beyond just the piece of paper that is their resume. We’re also encouraging the employers that we work with to use social media to connect with [young potential employees], and to make sure they have a presence where Gen Z is so they can set themselves apart.
YPulse: Tell us about your Office Hours series. What types of business professionals are involved and how is it helping young professionals build community?
WW: We love Office Hours. What we originally wanted to do was create an intimate opportunity that would replicate professors’ office hours where a student can just come and ask their questions. Instead of professors, we bring in industry executives. We had the CMO of Kate Spade. We talked to the head of global beauty education for Two Faced cosmetics. What they talk about is something that is near and dear to their heart; something that they feel they can authentically speak to; something that has been part of their story. They’re about 30-minute conversations where someone from the Generation Hired team will have a conversation with the executive for about 20 minutes. And then there’s 10 minutes of Q&A. We’ve had executives offer up on LinkedIn and say [to Office Hours attendees], “If you want to add me on LinkedIn and send me your resume and send me your cover letter, I’ll give you feedback on it.” It’s really providing this unprecedented access to these incredible executives and role models to students where it’s as easy as logging on to Zoom. And then afterwards, we provide a video library that’s accessible for all Generation Hired members free of charge.
YPulse: Are there any other programs that Generation Hired is running?
WW: We’re working on a “Fuel Your Search” program that’s specifically for graduating seniors who are in the middle of frantically searching for a job. Some have [jobs] lined up by spring semester of senior year. But many, many do not, or some feel like they may have to settle for the only job they’ve gotten. So, we’re going to do an event that specifically focuses on graduating seniors and help them be strategic about their search. We’re also launching the Ready To Be Hired career accelerator program. It’s a program where [attendees] can test out of it and receive a “Ready To Be Hired” badge to put on [their] LinkedIn or resume, and it means [they] have the job skills to excel in an interview. There are a lot of basic workplace skills that just aren’t taught at many colleges and universities. It’s kind of a running joke that you can analyze a long form poem, but do you know how to show up in a meeting and when to speak? Do you know how to prepare an agenda for a one-on-one with your boss? Do you know how to appropriately network with your colleagues and what’s crossing the line? A lot of these basic skills, you kind of just have to learn on your own or find a mentor who’s going to teach you. And we really want to be that ground [Gen Z] can stand on right as they’re beginning.
YPulse: What’s next for Generation Hired?
WW: We’re trying to recruit as many students as possible. It’s free to join Generation Hired. We’re doing an active recruitment push this spring, and it’s something that we are just really, really passionate about. We always want this to be free for students and recent graduates, and we just want to provide these amazing resources to as many people as possible.
Windsor Hanger Western is the Co-Founder, President, and Publisher at Her Campus Media, which owns digital media brands including Generation Hired, College Fashionista, Spoon University, and the InfluencHer Collective.
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