Candidate Experience
4 min read
May 5, 2023

Here’s why Gen Zers don’t like your recruitment advertisements (as told by a Gen Zer).

Every candidate looks for unique aspects of companies when applying for jobs, but is there a winning formula for recruitment advertising? QR codes? Quick-apply? Here is what we think.

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Historically, I have been crippled by an undeniable inability to execute.

Ask anyone I know and they’ll say: “Jack is an idea guy. He’s great at thinking about stuff, but don’t let him do ANYTHING — he won’t get it done.”


Let’s call it my Gen Z attitude. 

Now you may think that all Gen Zers have cultivated a deep yearning for instant gratification, but many of us have actually developed a pragmatic approach to consumption and decision making that places thorough analysis and patience at its crux. We’ve garnered a habit of tying our identity to the companies we choose to buy from, interact with, and work for. And we don’t want to choose poorly. 

With this culture shift slowing down many Gen Zers as they prepare to enter the job market, it's more important than ever that companies get their recruitment advertising right. 

Which brings us to the issue at hand: Pretty much everyone gets it wrong. Most recruitment advertising doesn’t motivate Gen Z candidates to actually click “apply.” 

I should know. I was one. 

You’re losing candidates by only designing for one type of Gen Zer. 

It’s incredible to me that people try to lump all  Gen Z candidates together, as if we’re some amalgamated hive mind of screen addicted, TikTok-loving job seekers. Well, I’m here to debunk that claim. There are some ways we differ!

My buddy Tyler and I started at Paradox together, about a year ago to this day. Now Tyler and I were on absolute opposite ends of the job hunting spectrum. Tyler applied to 150 jobs over his last semester of college. 

I applied to four. 

Let’s just say that I wasn’t one to cast a wide net. Not because I didn’t want a job, but because applying to jobs was difficult. Before I applied to work at any company, I had to be persuaded that I could see myself happily working there. The job needed to prove that it was worth applying for. And a lot of the time, that wasn’t the case.

Vague language. Flimsy testimonials. A website that looked like it was built before I was born (because it probably was). And that’s without even mentioning the aggravating process of actually filling out an application if I was convinced.  

To sway Gen Zers to apply to your position, you have to leverage the value that you would bring to them. Be clear about what makes you unique in the marketplace. Use powerful calls-to-action that galvanize us to click that ”apply” button. Ensure you present your company in a way that we’ll understand.

I don’t want to speak for all of Gen Z, but I like things to be simple and straightforward. Convince me I should work for you, and make it easy for me to try. 

If you can do that, you’ll start getting more applicants like me. 

You’re throwing away money into ads that nobody cares about. 

Go look at your LinkedIn feed right now. Take some time to scroll and see if you can spot any patterns. Here’s what I notice: One in every four posts is a promoted advertisement. 

So, essentially a good chunk of  your timeline is only there because someone paid real money to put it in front of your face. Doesn’t that make you feel special?

I’m on LinkedIn a lot. Like, a lot. I probably scroll past a small country’s GDP worth of promoted advertisements every day. And here’s what I notice: A lot of companies don’t know how to speak to me. No, not me as in “Jack Dimond.” Me as in “a 23 year old guy who wants to kill three minutes before a meeting.”

And they especially didn’t know how to talk to me  when I was searching for a job. 

Maybe that’s the wrong way to say it. I can see and understand job listings on social media, but I just don’t care most of the time. Almost 40% of Gen Zers are on social media for more than 4 hours a day. That’s a ridiculous amount of food photos, selfies, and yes, recruitment advertisements. 

With so much stuff competing for our attention, your recruitment advertising has  to stand out. Or you’re not going to get candidates. It’s that simple. And the best way to stand out is to make every individual candidate feel unique and wanted. 

I get it. It’s seemingly impossible to make a post for thousands of Gen Zers feel personalized to each and every one of us. But here’s where I drop in the dramatic reveal…

It’s actually not that hard! Not with the right technology, at least. There’s something we like to call conversational software that transforms this clunky and entirely impersonal process into something Gen Z can relate to: a conversation. 

Conversational software works for Gen Zers because it changes the point of contact between company and candidate. Say I saw a CTA on a LinkedIn ad to apply in minutes simply by texting a shortcode to a phone number. That seems pretty easy, so I willingly move my attention from my social platform of choice to my phone’s messaging app. From that point on, I’m no longer being yelled at by thousands of brands at once. I’m having a one on one chat with a conversational assistant who can automatically answer any of my pressing questions. Peaceful, right?


That’s what recruitment advertising should be. Actually getting to know a candidate through a direct conversation. Now that  feels special. And it works.

You’re not maximizing Gen Z’s favorite phone feature.   

Here’s a design change that I think we take for granted. Years ago, if I wanted to take a photo, I had to take out my phone, unlock it, and navigate to my camera app. Now all I have to do is swipe up. The geniuses that designed our phones knew that we love  to take photos, so they made it as easy as possible.

And you can take advantage of this seamless experience within your recruitment advertising. 

QR code usage has skyrocketed since the turn of the decade, and Gen Zers are leading the charge. It makes sense then, that your recruitment advertising should take advantage of that proclivity. Placing a QR code in your advertising adds an extra element to your marketing strategy: convenience. With one swipe and scan, candidates can be transported into a real-time job application. 

In an ideal world, there is no segmentation between your recruitment advertisements and your job applications. One should seamlessly flow into the next. The less barriers and friction in the process, the less chances candidates have to drop-off. Higher conversion rates equals more quality candidates. 

And it equals a process that works for both job posters and Gen Z applicants. It looks like this:

I applied to four jobs my last semester of college. And the reason I chose to apply to Paradox was because their recruitment advertising stood out, was direct, and made me feel wanted. I could easily envision myself working at the company.

I don’t intend to come off as sycophantic. But it’s true! I mean, I'm here aren't I? And Tyler, the guy who applied to every job opening in existence, he's here too. So clearly Paradox has figured something out that appeals to the generation of employees that everyone else seems to be struggling to hire.

Really, there is a winning formula. When you have candidates that hesitate to make decisions (like me), make things as comfortable and simple for them as you can. 

Then they can’t  screw it up.

Written by
Jack Dimond
Contributing Author
Jack Dimond
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