Connect your business with Gen Z on LinkedIn

Gen Z use LinkedIn for a few reasons. Most importantly, it’s considered trustworthy and they are using it to learn new skills, open doors and foster connections, just in case the main job or employer isn’t what they thought it would be, says Baker Tilly Staples Rodway Taranaki marketing manager Sarah Ellem.

Time to read: 7 mins

With Gen Z now starting to use LinkedIn, what is the best approach to using the platform with this new generation of online posters and readers?

We all look for a good working environment with decent pay and benefits, fulfilling work and a positive culture – and for Gen Z workers, who they work with, and the social vibe of a workplace, can be even more important than the work itself. Increasingly, they’re using LinkedIn to gauge the nature of prospective employers or colleagues.

For companies using the platform to appeal to Gen Z and any other generation, it’s key to be honest. Use LinkedIn to communicate the real outputs of your people and what drives your firm. It’s a place for “expert positioning” content, highlighting your employer brand and values, championing your efforts in the community, sharing valuable insights, and showcasing events and activities you’re working on.

However, it’s also a place you can “open up” about things that might not be perfect in your business, but that you’re working on. This demonstrates authenticity, especially for a younger audience that’s increasingly savvy to “spin” and the curated perfection of online influencers. It’s a place to create connections and improve business relationships with referrers and contemporaries, inviting enquiry and professional curiosity.

That means not just congratulating achievements, but updating on what your business has achieved while also acknowledging where you’re going next and inviting questions. It includes thought leadership that sets out your position on issues important to your stakeholders; and executives sharing their professional struggles, personal observations and lessons they've learned.

As an individual, it’s far more than a place to share your employment history. It’s about demonstrating your professional integrity, highlighting your skills, sharing your knowledge and building valuable connections with a broader community. LinkedIn groups and newsletters offer individuals professional spaces to share knowledge and ask questions of their peers – irrespective of physical location.

Why is there a surge of younger people using LinkedIn?

There are a few reasons, but most importantly it’s considered trustworthy. In a recent LinkedIn poll 73% of Gen Z said they “feel safe” posting content, researching, learning and interacting on the site.

They’ve grown up in a challenging time. Pandemics, economic uncertainty, isolation from peers, remote working as normal, high rates of mental health challenges, a high cost of living and disasters on the news every day. They’re entering the workforce in an uncertain world, so job insecurity, economic uncertainty and risk feels like it’s everywhere to them.

Many are therefore concerned global citizens and realists – they’re socially conscious, adaptable tech-natives with ambition to do what they deem important or valuable. They live in a world of flux so, unlike Boomers and Gen X, they don’t believe in a “job or career for life”.

While they spend time on the more “fun” social media apps, they use LinkedIn to build their network, research their options and “vibe check” potential employers. They want authenticity and a real work/life balance – something that goes beyond a mission statement on the office wall. LinkedIn represents a more trustworthy source than, say, Tik Tok or Instagram, which are full of photoshopped images and fleeting trends, to figure out which company or people will help them grow.

Gen Z is also a very entrepreneurial generation with a growth mindset. As part of the “side-hustle” generation, they are also on LinkedIn to learn new skills, open doors and foster connections – just in case the main job or employer isn’t what they thought it would be. As global entrepreneur and influencer Gary Vaynerchuck stated: “These kids are not growing up in the world we grew up in. We sh*t on Gen Z for being entitled and lazy, and what they're being is thoughtfully understanding of their options.”

How should businesses and individuals utilise LinkedIn?

Gen Z are fully aware that “relationship marketing” and networking is important. It’s the old adage “who you know, not what you know” coming back around. They might be looking for a “CEO” to connect with. In Gen Z speak, that’s someone who’s a pro or has mastered something, not an actual CEO.

So, businesses and individuals need to use LinkedIn tools as best they can, if they’ve identified that LinkedIn is where they need to be. For example, if you’re a business looking for new people to join your team, LinkedIn offers quite powerful advertising targeting tools. You can promote a vacancy at your firm and actively target people who may have a certain job title, follow a certain hashtag, belong to a professional group, work for your competitors, have X years’ experience in a specific role, plus all the other standard demographic targeting options.

There are also InMails, which should be used sparingly to target specific audiences directly in their inboxes beyond visible-to-all posts. This is a great way to announce major initiatives, research, available positions and other things of interest to specific kinds of people.

But if your employer brand isn’t strong already on the site, don’t waste your efforts, as Gen Z will see right through it. They value transparency and are global citizens first – equal rights for all, fairness, honesty, and culturally-invested firms and people. If you present a false front, you won’t attract Gen Z workers, no matter the benefits you offer.

Senior staff and business owners wanting to attract more people to their business should be active on the site too. The important insight in this environment is that recruitment can’t just be considered as the role of HR or marketing. You need to lead from the top and showcase your skills, considering: “What can this young person learn from me or expect from me? What will they see me do each day?”. Speak honestly on the platform about your personal values as well as your firm’s – and show how they are achieved. Be vulnerable, too, sometimes – you’re human after all.

LinkedIn is far more than an online CV repository. Active, considered use of the platform can strengthen your employer brand and create opportunities for great people (Gen Z or other) to knock on your door first.

Where do you see the platform going from here?

The Digital 2023 report states that 4.24 million New Zealanders were regularly using social media in January 2023. While LinkedIn is not the highest-ranking social site in New Zealand (YouTube takes the crown), it does have 2.5 million members and growing.

LinkedIn’s own data shows that its global membership is growing each month and its advertising reach appears to have grown more quickly than Facebook in the past 12 months.

LinkedIn only takes members 18 and above; and so, as the younger members of Gen Z get to employment age, they will likely continue to use LinkedIn as a safe space to research employers, seek opportunities that better align with their personal values, find entrepreneurial inspiration, educate themselves, foster valuable connections and tell their own authentic stories about their passion projects, career goals and life ambitions.

Within the social media landscape, LinkedIn offers a unique, trusted, professional place, and that position may well ensure its continuing strong future. 

– Wherever you’re based in New Zealand, our Taranaki marketing specialists and design professionals are here to help you achieve your business goals. Whether you need to launch, grow, rebrand or improve your marketing knowledge, they can help.

DISCLAIMER No liability is assumed by Baker Tilly Staples Rodway for any losses suffered by any person relying directly or indirectly upon any article within this website. It is recommended that you consult your advisor before acting on this information.

Baker Tilly Staples Rodway Taranaki marketing manager Sarah Ellem

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