It’s student intern time, and Gen Z is invading. How are they different from millennials, and what do I need to know about them? – Caroline B., Hamilton
Gen Z, defined by Statistics Canada as those born since 1993, is determined to be heard in a way that’s already eclipsing millennials. I’m in awe of how Gen Z activists are leading the movement for change in U.S. politics while still in high school. Although the two cohorts have a lot in common, including a social conscience and strong B.S. detector, there are key differences in how they communicate, make decisions and solve problems. While millennials grew up with computers, Gen Z mastered the iPad before toilet training.
Generations expert Rumeet Billan of Toronto-based Viewpoint Leadership Inc. says while millennials are more likely to use Google, Gen Z members obtain their information from YouTube. As their preferred learning style is both visual and kinesthetic—they want to see and do—Billan suggests demonstrating and letting them experience what it is you are trying to get across. Co-workers can also use technology to build trust with Gen Z, as they relate well to groups and sharing (think Google Docs).
“When communicating, allow Gen Z to reflect and react,” she says. “They want to provide feedback—it’s what they are used to.”
I’m frustrated by trying to get a job in the tech field after staying home with my son for the past two years. My skills are current, but I can’t even get to the interview stage. Any advice?– Andrew G., Toronto
Taking care of the kids doesn’t win any kudos from potential employers. Recent research by Kate Weisshaar, an assistant sociology professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, showed stay-at-home parents were about half as likely to get a callback as unemployed parents and only one-third as likely as employed parents. So expect to work harder to get that first interview, possibly for a job at a lower level than the job you left.
It may help to confront the gap in your résumé head on. There’s no need to apologize for your choices, but present yourself with confidence and create a positive impression around your values. Opportunities may come from unexpected sources, so get the word out that you’re looking and ready to commit. Also, make sure you’ve got child care already organized for when that job comes up.