How Gen Z Works

by | Sep 11, 2020 | MY JOB Gen Z

Highlights from Chapter 1 in our forthcoming book.

As sixty-one million Gen Zers enter the workforce in the U.S. alone, what advantages and challenges do they face? What are their values and aspirations? 


How We Define Generation Z

First of all, who is Generation Z?

You’ll find disparity in the parameters of this generation, but we define Generation Z as people born between 1995-2015; that’s everyone from preschoolers up to university students and professionals in the field. 


What People Call Generation Z

Nicknames for this generation:

  • Generation Z/Gen Z
  • Centennials
  • iGen
  • Founders
  • Pivotals
  • Digital natives
  • The Action Generation
  • Throwback Generation
  • Zoomers

For our purposes, we’ve adopted the abbreviated “Gen Z” and call members “Gen Zers.”


Fast and Savvy and No B.S.

They have a famous attention span of just eight seconds—less than that of a goldfish. Often they’re on five devices at once, compared with Millennials on three. Conversely, because they’ve grown up digital, they’re much more savvy about knowing when they’re being fed “fake news.” 

Gen Zers have “a fast-paced, highly selective and decisive filter — something that marketers have never encountered before,” report Gen Zers Connor Blakely and serial entrepreneur Deep Patel in HuffPost. Gen Zers have a built-in bullshit detector; they bring and demand authenticity everywhere they go. 


What the Statistics Show


The Numbers Right Now 

  • Powerful consumers: Largest consumer base (40%) on the planet
  • Ethnically diverse: 47% in U.S. are non-white
  • Nomophobes: 95% have their own/access to a smartphone
  • Digital natives: 50% spend ten hours a day online
  • Brick and mortar: 67% prefer to do their shopping in physical stores
  • No Facebook: Preferred social media sites—Facebook down 20% (falling to 51%); Instagram (72%), YouTube (85%) and Snapchat (69%) up
  • Very social; for example, 71% watch three hours of YouTube videos of other humans each day and 39% admit their self-esteem is directly influenced by social media
  • Impactful: 80% choose brands that are eco-friendly and socially responsible


Equality and Diversity

Many members of Generation Z grew up during the Obama years, and as such equality and diversity are important issues for them (just as they were during Obama’s presidency). In a study, 72% of Gen Z members said racial equality is the most important issue today, while 64% said gender equality and 48% said sexual orientation equality were the most important.


College? Maybe Not

Forbes cites 75 percent of Gen Zers do not see college as imperative to building a strong education. When they seek out employment, they rank diversity, good management, and job fluidity (ability to fulfill varying roles) as most vital. Money may not motivate their career choices, but more than any preceding generation (81%), it stresses them.


The Surprising Qualities of Gen Z

David and Jonah Stillman’s book lists some unique findings regarding Gen Z. Granted, their focus is on how to market to Generation Z; but we find that such qualities as realistic, DIY, FOMO, and weconomist show up in many other aspects of Gen Zers’ lives. Their list of qualities seems to fit.

  1. Phigital: The line between the physical and digital worlds for Gen Z hasn’t just been blurred; it’s been completely eliminated. Ninety-one percent of Gen Zers say that a company’s technological sophistication would influence their decision to accept a position with a firm.
  2. Hyper-Custom: Gen Zers have always worked hard at identifying and tailoring their brands for the world to know. From job titles to career paths, the pressure to customize has been turned up! Fifty-six percent of GenZers want to write their own job descriptions.
  3. Realistic: Growing up with skeptical Gen X parents in the aftermath of 9/11 and the Great Recession has created in Gen Z a very pragmatic mind-set when it comes to preparing for the future.
  4. FOMO: Gen Zers suffer from an intense fear of missing out on anything. The good news is that they will stay on top of all trends; the bad news is that they will worry they’re not moving ahead fast enough.
  5. Weconomists: From Uber to Airbnb, Gen Zers have only known a world with a shared economy. They will push to break down internal and external silos like never before.
  6. DIY: Gen Z is the do-it-yourself generation. Its fierce, independent nature will collide head-on with so many of the collaborative cultures that Millennials have fought for.
  7. Driven: With parents who drilled into them that there are winners and there are losers, this demographic is one motivated group. Seventy-two percent of Gen Zers say they are competitive with people doing the same job.


The One Thing Gen Zers Want Most at Work

Another author, Jessica Stillman (not related to David and Jonah, cited above), reports in Inc. magazine on a new study of 11 million workplace comments shows that, “Everyone wants to be paid decently, treated with respect, and have a life outside the office.” But not so for Gen Z: They want one thing above all else:

Gen Zers differ in that they look for companies that take a stand on political issues and are engaged with the world outside their company. They don’t just want to be part of a company that’s all about profits. 

Gen Zers, “raised in a time when the effects of climate change are making weekly headlines, care deeply about the world around them,” Stillman says. And more Gen Zers than any other generation (by a landslide) are likely to make employment decisions based on whether they agree with the stances and values of their employer—both the company and their boss. 


Cover photograph used with permission from and gratitude for Kae Ng via Unsplash. 


This post comes to you as a portion of the book:

MY JOB Gen Z: Finding Your Place in a Fast-Changing World

 (c) 2021 by Suzanne Skees and Sanam Yusuf

An open-source, narrative nonfiction book full of true stories of jobs along with best practices for how to make your dream-job come true.


Note from the authors:

Join us each Tuesday and Friday as we release highlights from our new book, that will be FREE to our community members.

Share with your friends and followers; it’s FREE, open-source, and available to everyone.

No one makes a penny on this book project, which is intended to inspire and empower Gen Zers to launch their careers and land their dream jobs. Suzanne and Sanam have volunteered their time, and we’ve chosen this platform to transmit our book so that YOU don’t have to pay for publication costs.

However, if you feel inspired to help someone in poverty to have access to dignified work, jump here to donate directly to the nonprofit job-creation program of your choice–all vetted and supported by Skees Family Foundation.

Thanks for being with us! We’re excited to share our book with you.

–Suzanne & Sanam

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Suzanne Skees, author of the three-volume MY JOB series on real people in remarkable jobs, believes in the power of our jobs over our identity and wellbeing and, conversely, our ability to change our world with the work of our minds and hands. She lives by the Pacific Ocean and spends as much time as possible listening to the surf, and to silence.



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