What Are Gen Z's Career Aspirations and Expectations?

December 14, 2021

By: Julianna Chen

As the youngest generation in today’s labor force, Gen Z is bringing new, fresh perspectives to the workplace. And those ideas shouldn’t be discounted simply because we’re young: Gen Z is poised to make up 30% of the workforce by 2030, and we already outnumber millennial workers. Soon to become the largest generation at work, it’s undeniable that we’re a force to be reckoned with.

But companies and the people that hire us to work for them still might have a lot to understand about Gen Z. Read on to learn more about what we want our careers to look like and what we expect from the places that employ us. 

Although not all of us might know exactly what we want, we do know that we want careers we’re actually passionate about. More than 40% of Gen-Z college students want post-graduation professions that match their precise interests. As a college kid studying comparative literature, I know I want to work in a field where the skills I’ve developed from this major—writing and critical analysis, for example—can be applied. And with a minor in Chinese studies, I’ve previously applied to several internships at Asian-American advocacy groups, museums, and magazines. Basically, for me, I’d like the job I have after college to match what I was into during college—if only because I know I’m already passionate about it, have devoted a ton of time to it, and want that time to pay off.

We’re entrepreneurial self-starters. In a survey framing Gen Z as the most entrepreneurial generation yet, 62% of Gen Zers indicated that they’ve already started or intend to start their own business. As digital natives, we’re adept at using social media to build strong brands, products, and services. 

We’re a values-driven bunch, seeking employers whose efforts toward diversity and inclusion align with ours. A recent study revealed that 69% of surveyed Gen-Z workers said they would “absolutely” be more likely to apply to work at a company that “emphasized a racially and ethnically diverse workplace in recruitment materials.” Plus, 88% believed that recruiters should ask for candidates’ gender pronouns. However, only 18% of the same surveyed workers reported actually being asked their pronouns by a recruiter. To me, being asked pronouns or emphasizing the diversity of a workplace is a great sign—although it does seem like a bare minimum, it indicates a level of basic respect that may be hard to come by elsewhere (as evidenced by that abysmally low percentage). I actively search for companies with a proven history of commitment to uplifting their marginalized employees and making the recruitment process more equitable and navigable for marginalized candidates as well.

Work-life balance is super important to us. Flexibility and a clear distinction between “office life” and “personal life” are paramount to us—I know you’ll never catch me agreeing to work crazy overtime hours, sorry! In fact, a GOBankingRates survey discovered that 42% of Gen-Z workers aged 18 to 24 prioritized work-life balance, the ability to work from home, and flexible vacation time when embarking on the job search. We value our individuality as people with purposes besides labor, and, ultimately, we want the time and space to be able to explore that.