Legal Hiring: Are You Ready for Generation Z?

Legal Hiring Gen Z

In just a few years, more than 20 percent of the workforce will consist of Generation Zers. Born between 1990 and 1999, Gen Zers have been natives of the digital and mobile landscape since they were children.

Having grown up in unstable economic times, this generation saw parents work long hours and attend countless work-related events — only to lose their jobs and homes anyway. Many were laid off without any acknowledgement of their years of service. This social reality helped shape a generation largely uninterested in the corner office, workplace politics or employer loyalty.

Influenced by technological developments and financial uncertainties, Gen Zers are starting to enter the legal workforce. Read on for legal hiring strategies that can help you attract and retain these next generation professionals.

Attracting Gen Z

Gen Z candidates are attached to their mobile phones, not for talking or sending emails (that's so Gen X), but for texting and social media. To attract them, you’ll need mobile-friendly career pages and a strong social media presence. You'll also want to consider texting candidates about jobs and letting them apply from their smartphones. 

They’re also attached to mobility itself as a lifestyle. Gen Zers tend to move frequently — changing schools, roommates and jobs — and are attracted by flexibility and change in the workplace, too. To appeal to Gen Z candidates you interview, promote any flexible work policies you have, such as remote working, flextime and combined time off. Also, go beyond work-life balance and focus on variability in the job, such as the potential for travel, a variety of projects to suit varied interests, or opportunities to work in court or at client sites. Gen Zers also tend to be attracted to a collegial culture in the workplace; be sure to make candidates aware of opportunities for teamwork.

Hiring Gen Z

Since many Gen Z workers have career goals and priorities that are different from previous generations, you’ll need to evaluate their fit with your particular workplace environment. Once you’ve invited Gen Z legal hiring candidates for an interview, clearly state the challenges that come with the job and gauge their responses. Next, ask open-ended questions like, “Why do you want to work for our law firm?” The answers will help you determine how thoroughly candidates have researched your organization and whether they’re a good fit for your workplace. They can also reveal whether candidates are inspired by the types of cases your firm handles.

Ask candidates whether they thrive in fast-paced, hard-charging situations with long hours. Conversely, if your organization works at a slower pace, ask applicants whether they’re comfortable at that tempo. If your workplace culture is team-oriented, do they enjoy teamwork or autonomous projects more? Questions like these help you determine whether candidates will succeed in your firm’s culture before making the offer. Weeding out candidates who may not be a good fit for your firm at this point reduces post-hire culture shock and subsequent turnover, substantially lowering overall hiring costs.

Retaining Gen Z

The flexibility of Gen Z attorneys and legal support professionals is both a strength and a weakness, from an employer’s standpoint. Like millennials, who are known for their job-hopping, Gen Zers are likely to stay with employers for less time. Gen Zers have been watching a job market filled with law firm layoffs, and some haven’t seen (or recognized) loyalty from the employer side. So show them reasons to stay. Leverage their technology skills and tell them clearly how much you value those skills. Show them the career path to partner or general counsel, and discuss opportunities awaiting them along the way if they stay. Also, members of this generation tend to be closer than previous generations have been to their parents and are likely to see seniors as parental figures; train bosses and mentors to explain the guiding vision for the future of the law office and how employees can help shape it.

When your legal hiring strategy includes recruiting, hiring and managing multiple generations, it’s essential to remember each generation is driven by different motivators and offers different strengths. But there also are similarities. Most people seek work-life balance, for example. By learning what motivates Gen Zers, you’ll also know what it takes to attract the best and brightest legal minds from the latest generation to join the workforce.

Find out even more about working with Generation Z by accessing Get Ready for Generation Z, highlighting key insights from a recent survey conducted by Robert Half.

Do you have experience with hiring Gen Z professionals? Share your thoughts below.