A Change of Pace For Gen Z Employees Entering the Workforce


August 16, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • Gen Z workers are most satisfied in roles that provide them with the opportunity to shape company culture and have social impact, with the highest rated jobs being corporate recruiter (ranked #1 with a 4.79 on a 5-point scale), marketing manager (#2, 4.56) and social media manager (#3, 4.46).
  • Gen Zers strike a balance in working for socially conscious yet large, established employers, with the highest rated companies being industry giants Microsoft (#1, 4.58), Google (#2, 4.53) and Morgan Stanley (#3, 4.46).
  • Gen Zers are reconsidering the big-city life and opting for jobs in smaller, more affordable cities and suburbs, with the highest rated cities to work being Scottsdale, AZ (#1, 4.27), Arlington, VA (#2, 4.22) and Boise, ID (#3, 4.18).

It’s been a bumpy ride for Gen Zers—adolescents and young adults born between 1997 and 2012 (see methodology below for more detail)—many of whom graduated into a calamitous job market for the first time during the pandemic, in a predominantly remote-first workplace. In this new world of work, Gen Zers are less satisfied in their jobs compared to other generations, at a 3.80 on a 5-point scale, tying with Millennials (3.80), but less satisfied than Gen Xers (3.85) and Boomers (3.93). The types of jobs Gen Z employees are landing, the companies they are working for, and the cities they are gravitating to give us insights into the experience of Gen Zers as they redefine company culture while balancing the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

The Jobs Satisfying Gen Z

For Gen Zers, corporate recruiting roles offer them the most job satisfaction (#1, 4.79) as it provides them the opportunity to shape how companies attract and retain talent, including helping to build diverse and inclusive workforces. For example, employees in corporate recruiting are able to ensure candidates are sourced from geographic regions that have been historically overlooked and at universities that often do not receive the same attention as top-tier institutions.

Highest Rated Jobs for Gen Z and Non Gen Z (Millennial, Gen X and Boomer)

RankGen ZAvg RatingNon Gen ZAvg Rating
1Corporate Recruiter4.79Corporate Recruiter4.59
2Marketing Manager4.56Realtor4.56
3Social Media Manager4.46Technical Account Manager4.56
4Data Scientist4.44Full Stack Engineer4.56
5Product Manager4.40SEO Analyst4.50
6IT Specialist4.35Executive Director4.46
7Account Coordinator4.31Solutions Engineer4.42
8Credit Analyst4.30Salesforce Developer4.41
9Project Engineer4.28Content Manager4.41
10Business Development Associate4.28Marketing Manager4.41

Source: Glassdoor Economic Research (https://www.glassdoor.com/research)

Gen Zers working as marketing and social media managers (ranked #2 at 4.56 and #3 at 4.46 respectively) play an important role in shaping a company’s brand. Marketing managers develop and implement strategic marketing plans to ensure the company is attracting and retaining customers, while social media managers look over an organization’s online presence by developing a strategy and producing relevant content. Also highly rated for Gen Zers and typically high on Glassdoor’s Best Jobs are data scientist roles (#4, 4.44). As a data scientist, Gen Z employees analyze big data and develop solutions to inform strategic decision making. Gen Z workers interested in broadening their social impact might consider ethics in AI, a growing subfield within data science.

Corporate Recruiting offers the most satisfaction for Gen Z and Non Gen Z employees, but Gen Zers show higher ratings, at 4.79 compared to 4.59 for Non Gen Zers. Additionally, older employees (Gen X and Boomers) are less content working as a corporate recruiter and are instead finding satisfaction in roles that require more years of experience, have more responsibility and wider impact across the business, like president and executive director, as shown in Appendix A. 

Overall, Gen Zers are most satisfied working in largely creative, non-technical roles, with only two out of the ten highest rated jobs for Gen Z employees in tech, compared to five for Non Gen Z workers.

The Companies Offering Gen Z the Best Employee Experience

A survey by Glassdoor conducted before the pandemic found that younger workers, more than any other age group, expect their employers to speak out about social issues that impact their employees and society. However, amid the pandemic, many employees have had to find a balance between socially conscious companies and other factors such as the stability and security of the companies they work for. The highest rated companies for Gen Z are Microsoft (#1,  4.58), Google (#2, 4.53), and Morgan Stanley (#3, 4.46) as shown below.

Highest Rated Employers For Gen Z and Non Gen Z

RankGen ZAvg RatingNon Gen ZAvg Rating
1Microsoft4.58MongoDB4.89
2Google4.53Procore Technologies4.80
3Morgan Stanley4.46Experian4.78
4Trader Joe’s4.44eXp Realty4.77
5Total Quality Logistics4.35NVIDIA4.73
6General Motors (GM)4.32ServiceNow4.72
7Fidelity Investments4.30HubSpot4.65
8Bank of America4.26Intuit4.63
9IBM4.25LinkedIn4.63
10Northrop Grumman4.23Smartsheet4.58

Source: Glassdoor Economic Research (https://www.glassdoor.com/research )

The differences between Gen Zers’ preferred choice of employers compared to Non Gen Zers are primarily the size and age of the company. All of the highest rated employers for Gen Z are relatively large companies and were founded prior to the year 2000, whereas for Non Gen Zers the top companies have smaller workforces and came into existence after 2000. For Gen Z, working for a larger, more established company provides them with greater job security and career opportunities that smaller and newer companies often lack. One shared value across all generations is that many companies listed in the table above have taken a public stance on issues ranging from racial equity in the workplace to environmental sustainability.  This reflects both a general preference employees have for companies to engage in public discussions around social issues impacting their employees, and the reality that many companies have become more openly engaged in social and environmental issues in recent years.

Where Gen Zers work is equally as important as who they work for, as inflation and higher rents continue to chip away at salaries. In the next section we examine how Gen Z employees are responding to the changes in the economic climate.

Hotspots For Gen Z to Work

With the rise of remote work and concerns about the cost of living, the allure of big central hubs for younger workers has dwindled and suburbs outside of fast growing cities such as Scottsdale, Arizona (#1, 4.24) have become the new attraction as shown below.

Highest Rated Cities

RankGen ZAvg Rating
1Scottsdale, AZ4.24
2Arlington, VA4.22
3Boise, ID4.18
4San Francisco, CA4.16
5Fort Lauderdale, FL4.15
6San Diego, CA4.15
7Cambridge, MA4.14
8Irvine, CA4.11
9Washington, DC4.10
10Albuquerque, NM4.10

Source: Glassdoor Economic Research (https://www.glassdoor.com/research)

The largest cities – such as New York City and Los Angeles – were far from breaking the top 10, ranked at #18 with a rating of 4.00 and #45 with a rating of 3.86 respectively, and instead have been crowded out by cities such as Scottsdale. Scottsdale is a suburb of Phoenix, AZ which is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States according to Census data and offers Gen Z employees a more satisfying professional lifestyle than they might find in larger metropolitan areas.

Overall, Gen Z workers find the most joy working at large and established companies in roles such as corporate recruiting and marketing management which enable them to reorient a company’s culture and obtain better alignment with the values of their employees. With the rise of remote-work, Gen Zers have opted out of the big-city life and instead are happier working in smaller, more affordable cities.

Methodology

We analyzed Glassdoor’s database of company reviews to examine which roles, companies and cities Gen Z and Non Gen Z employees rate the highest. According to Pew Research Generation Z were born between 1997 and 2012. Non Gen Z consists of Millennials born in 1981-1996, Generation X born in 1965-1980 and Boomers born in 1946-1964. Only employers with a minimum of 30 reviews left by U.S. full-time employees aged 18 and above from April 1, 2020 to July 15, 2022 were included in our analysis. Additionally, we exclude students, interns and employees in the military.

Appendix A

Highest Rated Jobs Across Generations

RankGen ZAvg RatingMillennialAvg RatingGen XAvg RatingBoomerAvg Rating
1Corporate Recruiter4.79Realtor4.58Chief Executive Officer4.91President4.95
2Marketing Manager4.56Corporate Recruiter4.57Chief Operating Officer4.73Chief Executive Officer4.89
3Social Media Manager4.46Full Stack Engineer4.56President4.72Realtor4.74
4Data Scientist4.44Chief Operating Officer4.54Corporate Recruiter4.58Executive Director4.64
5Product Manager4.40Technical Account Manager4.53Strategy Manager4.53HR Manager4.53
6IT Specialist4.35SEO Analyst4.49Realtor4.48Executive Assistant4.46
7Account Coordinator4.31Executive Director4.48Law Firm Partner4.45Business Development Manager4.39
8Credit Analyst4.30Technical Recruiter4.46Solutions Engineer4.45Marketing Manager4.36
9Project Engineer4.28Salesforce Developer4.45Customer Success Manager4.41Insurance Sales Agent4.28
10Business Development Associate4.28President4.43HR Specialist4.40Attorney4.22

Source: Glassdoor Economic Research (https://www.glassdoor.com/research)

Each generation shows distinctively different jobs that require different skills, responsibilities and years of experience. For example, a corporate recruiter role can be reached early in one’s career with minimal years of direct experience, shown by a drop from being ranked 1 to 2 to 4 for Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X respectively and not listed for Boomers. But a role like president which requires deep field-knowledge and experience is not listed for Gen Z and increases from being ranked 10 to 3 to 1 for Millennials, Gen X and Boomers. This trend reflects the age effects for employees in each generation, where as workers get older and further into their career, the types of roles they find to be most satisfying are ones that offer greater responsibility and duties with far-reaching impact.

Appendix B

Highest Rated Cities Across Generations

RankGen ZAvg RatingMillennialAvg RatingGen XAvg RatingBoomerAvg Rating
1Scottsdale, AZ4.24Westlake, TX4.56Draper, UT4.47San Diego, CA4.28
2Arlington, VA4.22Sheboygan, WI4.49Boca Raton, FL4.45Washington, DC4.23
3Boise, ID4.18Lehi, UT4.36Mountain View, CA4.40Orlando, FL4.18
4San Francisco, CA4.16Bend, OR4.28Sioux Falls, SD4.38Houston, TX4.17
5Fort Lauderdale, FL4.15McAllen, TX4.27Hillsboro, OR4.31Baltimore, MD4.17
6San Diego, CA4.15Livermore, CA4.27Huntsville, AL4.25Indianapolis, IN4.16
7Cambridge, MA4.14Bethesda, MD4.25New Brunswick, NJ4.24Raleigh, NC4.15
8Irvine, CA4.11Santa Ana, CA4.24Clearwater, FL4.24Boston, MA4.15
9Washington, DC4.10Santa Clara, CA4.23Reston, VA4.18Salt Lake City, UT4.11
10Albuquerque, NM4.10Cambridge, MA4.23McLean, VA4.18Chicago, IL4.05

Source: Glassdoor Economic Research (https://www.glassdoor.com/research)

When it comes to where each generation prefers to work, one large differentiator for employees working in large urban centers versus suburban areas is affordability. Gen Z employees are earlier in their careers and have not amassed as much wealth as Boomers, and thus are more sensitive to changes in the economy. Very few densely populated cities made it onto Gen Zers’ highest rated cities list whereas for Boomers, every city listed is considered a large metropolitan area. This is in part due to the Boomer generation’s preference for more active living as they age, as people continue to work and live longer healthier lives. Additionally, Boomers might downsize their homes after for example children leave the nest.