The Next Generation of Talent: Where Gen Z Wants to Work

Move over, millennials. Generation Z (Gen Z) is the newest player in today’s job market. The oldest members of Gen Z have entered the labor force during a period of record low unemployment and during a time when employers are fighting to hire and retain top talent. Gen Z job seekers are in the early stages of their careers — whether they have experienced a part-time job, internship or full-time role.

Where do Gen Zers want to work? How do Gen Z job seekers compare to their (older) millennial counterparts? Using Glassdoor data, we uncover insights on Gen Z workers in the United States leveraging job application data and company reviews.  

Key Findings:

  • Software engineer is the most in-demand job that Gen Z job seekers are applying to with applications accounting for 19 percent of total applications left by Gen Z users during a three and a half month period — that’s nearly every one of five applications coming to this job. The number two job that Gen Z job seekers are most applying to is software developer, accounting for two percent of total applications.  
  • Gen Zers are aspiring to work in tech — the majority of job applications from Gen Zers were for companies in the tech industry, followed by business services, finance and retail. IBM, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Deloitte are the top five companies that Gen Z are applying to on Glassdoor.
  • Across Glassdoor reviews left by Gen Z, “work environment”, “flexible hours” and “good pay” are the most common keywords used by Gen Z to describe the pros of working for their employers. “Free food”, “company discount” and “easy work” also appear in the top ten most common phrases for Gen Z employees. “Long hours” and “low pay” are the most common keywords Gen Z employees use to describe the cons of their work experience.

What We Did  

According to Pew Research Center, members of Gen Z were born between 1997 and 2012. While the majority of Gen Z has not yet entered the labor force, we can look at those born between 1997 and 2000 to uncover insights about this new generation of workers.  In 2019, these individuals are between the ages of 18 and 22. Millennials are defined as those born between 1981 and 1996.

We utilized a sample of job applications started on Glassdoor between October 1, 2018 and January 11, 2019 to look at the employers, metros and occupations that Gen Z and millennial job seekers are applying to in the U.S.

We leveraged Glassdoor’s database of anonymous company reviews to compare how Gen Z employees rate working at different companies.  Only employers with more than 30 reviews left by Gen Z employees from January 1, 2015 to January 11, 2019 were included in our analysis. We also analyzed the pros and cons text from all company reviews left by Gen Z and millennial employees from January 1, 2015 to January 11, 2019. Using natural language processing, we identified the most common two word phrases used by Gen Zers and millennials in the pros and cons sections of reviews.

To add context to the current labor market for the occupations and metros Gen Z has shown interest in, we used Glassdoor’s database of millions of job listings to look at all active, unique job postings on Glassdoor as of January 30, 2019.

Finally, for insight into expected salaries for current open positions today, we examined salary data using the technology powering Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth tool to estimate the median base pay for the open jobs highlighted in this report.  

Where are Gen Zers Applying to Work?  

To gain insight into where Gen Zers are aspiring to find jobs, we leverage job application data on Glassdoor. We can dig deeper into the data to find out what employers, cities and occupations Gen Z job seekers are applying to currently and how this compares to their millennial counterparts.   

The table below shows the top occupations that Gen Z job seekers were applying to. To give context into the job market for these roles, we pulled the U.S. open job count as well as the estimated salary for each occupation. Software engineer applications accounted for 19 percent of all job applications from Gen Zers, making it the most popular job to apply to among this generation. There are currently over 60,000 open jobs for software engineers in the U.S. and the median salary for these open jobs is $98,500. This is good news for Gen Z job seekers aspiring to become software engineers — there are plenty of opportunities and competitive salaries for this highly skilled position. Software developer, sales associate and mechanical engineer each accounted for approximately two percent of all job applications from Gen Zers. There are over 15,000 open jobs available for software developers and the median salary for these open positions is $86,000.

Sales associate accounts for two percent of Gen Z applications and there are currently over 162,000 open jobs for this role. There is strong opportunity for Gen Z workers to find a sales associate role, which is a common role for young workers as they first enter the workforce. Unsurprisingly, we do not see any manager level positions make this list as Gen Zers are still early in their careers. This shows that Gen Zers are being realistic about the jobs they are qualified for, given their years of experience when applying to jobs. Except for sales associate and receptionist, each of the most applied to jobs among Gen Zers require some form of higher education, whether that be college or taking the time to learn certain skills through online training or bootcamps.

Top 10 In-Demand Jobs Among Gen Z Job Seekers

Top Jobs Gen Z is Applying To     Percent of Gen Z Applications Open Jobs Today Median Salary for Open Jobs
Software Engineer 19% 60,442 $98,500
Software Developer 2% 15,170 $86,000
Sales Associate 2% 162,697 $40,700
Mechanical Engineer 2% 7,133 $81,000
Data Analyst 1% 7,116 $65,500
Business Analyst 1% 17,956 $73,000
Engineer 1% 4,819 $84,500
Receptionist 1% 17,613 $33,700
Investment Banking Analyst 1% 547 $80,800
Financial Analyst 1% 10,699 $70,000

Source: Glassdoor Economic Research (Glassdoor.com/research)

When we look at which types of employers receive the most applications from Gen Zers, we find that the tech industry dominates, followed by business services, finance and retail. As a generation whose upbringing has been heavily influenced by technology — and has never known a world without public internet — this data shows that we’ll likely see tech companies continue to attract these Gen Zers as they continue their search for jobs.  

The table below compares the top ten companies that Gen Zers and millennials applied to during the time period we looked at. Gen Zers applied the most to IBM, Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Salesforce — all large tech companies. Similarly, the top five companies millennials applied to were all tech companies including Amazon, IBM, Oracle, Google and Apple. Gen Zers also aspired to work at some non-tech companies such as  Deloitte, an accounting company; NBCUniversal, a media company; and Lockheed Martin, an aerospace and defense company. However, seven of the top ten companies with the most Gen Z applications were tech companies.

Top Employers Attracting Gen Z and Millennial Workers

Top Employers Attracting Gen Z Workers Top Employers Attracting Millennials
IBM Amazon
Microsoft IBM
Google Oracle
Amazon Google
Salesforce Apple
Deloitte Microsoft
NBCUniversal Robert Half
Lockheed Martin Facebook
Oracle PayPal
PayPal Deloitte

Source: Glassdoor Economic Research (Glassdoor.com/research)

Next we look at the major metros that Gen Z and millennial job hunters are applying to work in. The table below presents the top fifteen cities that Gen Z and millennial job seekers are applying to jobs in. Again, we see many similarities between these two generations in terms of the top cities they are applying to jobs in. New York City accounts for 9 percent of all Gen Z applications followed by Los Angeles, which received 6 percent of Gen Z applications. For millennials, New York City also accounts for the majority of applications (13 percent) followed by Los Angeles (8 percent). However, Gen Z job applications are less concentrated in the bigger metros compared to millennials, and more spread out among smaller metros. Champaign and Raleigh are two metros that rank among the top ten locations that Gen Zers are applying to but not for millennials. Conversely, Phoenix and Miami are two metros that rank among the top ten locations that millennials are applying to but not for Gen Zers.

Top Metros Gen Zers and Millennials are Applying to

Top Cities Gen Z is Applying To Percent of Gen Z Applications Top Cities Millennials are Applying To Percent of Millennial Applications
New York, NY 9% New York, NY 13%
Los Angeles, CA 6% Los Angeles, CA 8%
San Francisco, CA 5% San Francisco, CA 6%
Boston, MA 4% Chicago, IL 5%
Chicago, IL 3% San Jose, CA 4%
Washington, DC 3% Washington, DC 4%
Atlanta, GA 3% Boston, MA 4%
Philadelphia, PA 2% Dallas, TX 4%
Seattle, WA 2% Atlanta, GA 3%
Dallas, TX 2% Seattle, WA 3%
San Diego, CA 2% Houston, TX 3%
San Jose, CA 2% Philadelphia, PA 2%
Houston, TX 2% Miami, FL 2%
Champaign, IL 1% San Diego, CA 2%
Raleigh, NC 1% Phoenix, AZ 1%

Source: Glassdoor Economic Research (Glassdoor.com/research)

Highest Rated Employers According to Gen Z

Using reviews left by Gen Z employees, we can identify the employers that Gen Z has had great experiences working for. The table below presents the ten highest rated employers according to Gen Z employees on Glassdoor. These reviews include employee feedback primarily from a mix of part-time, full-time, intern, contract and freelance workers. The top three highest rated companies according to Gen Z employees are all tech companies. The highest rated company is Apple with an average rating of 4.6 from Gen Z employees. It is closely followed by Google and Microsoft, both with average ratings of 4.6 from Gen Z employees. Morgan Stanley is the fourth highest rated employer according to Gen Z employees, and the only employer in the finance industry that appears in this list. The fifth highest rated employer is Facebook, with an average rating of 4.5 from reviews left by Gen Z workers.

We also see several companies that offer entry level positions that don’t require higher education, such as In-N-Out Burger, Costco, Nike and Nordstrom.  Gen Z job seekers with a variety of backgrounds can find a role at these companies at which Gen Zers have already worked and had enjoyable experiences. All ten of these employers are well above the average site-wide rating of 3.4 on Glassdoor.

Ten Highest Rated Companies by Gen Z Employees

Employer Rating from Gen Z Employees
Apple 4.6
Google 4.6
Microsoft 4.6
Morgan Stanley 4.5
Facebook 4.5
In-N-Out Burger 4.3
StudySoup 4.3
Costco Wholesale 4.2
Nike 4.2
Nordstrom 4.1

Source: Glassdoor Economic Research (Glassdoor.com/research)

Gen Z’s Most Common Pros and Cons of Working at a Company

Using a sample of Glassdoor reviews left by Gen Z employees, we can use the wealth of information they have detailed on the pros and cons of their early working experience. The Glassdoor review process requires that employees take time to reflect on what’s working well at their company and what can be improved. The charts below compare the most common two-word phrases used by Gen Zers and millennials in the pros of working at their jobs and companies.

The most common phrases we see in Gen Z pros are “work environment,” “flexible hours” and “good pay.” Interestingly, of the ten most common phrases for Gen Zers, we see “easy job,” “employee discount,” “free food” and “easy work,” which do not appear in the ten most common phrases for millennials.  For employers trying to catch the attention of Gen Z job seekers, these keywords may help them connect with Gen Z job seekers. But, as revealed in previous Glassdoor Economic Research, culture and values, trust in senior leadership and career opportunities are what matter most in keeping employees satisfied long term.  

Source: Glassdoor Economic Research (Glassdoor.com/research)

Source: Glassdoor Economic Research (Glassdoor.com/research)

The charts below compare the most common two word phrases used by Gen Zers and millennials among the cons of working at their jobs. The most common phrases we see in Gen Z cons are “long hours,” “low pay” and “minimum wage.” Gen Zers are calling out the minimum wage as a negative, which ties into receiving low pay and also tells us that this a common complaint for entry-level workers. We also see “rude customer” as a frequent con from Gen Zers, showing that they have worked in customer-facing roles.

The most common cons from millennials are “long hours,” “upper management” and “low pay.” While there are similarities between Gen Zers and millennials, we see several cons such as “high turnover” and “room for growth” in the top concerns of millennials but not Gen Zers, which can be indicators of reviews shared by employees later in their careers. Both generations show that poor upper management is an issue that matters to them, tying back to previous Glassdoor research showing that trust in senior leadership is critical in keeping employees satisfied. Overall, we see that issues such as long hours, low pay, poor upper management and bad work environments are important to both millennials and Gen Zers.

Source: Glassdoor Economic Research (Glassdoor.com/research)

Source: Glassdoor Economic Research (Glassdoor.com/research)

How to Attract Gen Z Applicants

The top two occupations that Gen Zers are aspiring to work in are software engineer and software developer, both tech roles. As we’ve seen in previous economic research, software engineers are needed not only at tech companies, but among other industries such as retail, banking and manufacturing. Tech jobs will continue to spread among other industries and beyond traditional tech hub metros. This means that tech and non-tech employers are both competing for these highly skilled technical workers.

In order to attract and retain Gen Z employees in roles such as software engineer, we are likely to see non-tech employers adapting to compete with tech companies that have traditionally attracted these highly skilled tech workers. While culture and values, trust in senior leadership and career opportunities lead to keeping employees satisfied in the long term, employers still need to attract Gen Z’s initial interest in applying to their roles. From the text analysis of Gen Z employees’ stated pros and cons, we found that “work environment,” “flexible hours” and “good pay” are the most common two word phrases found in the pros section of Gen Z employee feedback. The competition to catch the attention of the newest generation of workers and potential applicants will likely favor employers who can demonstrate — via their job descriptions, interview processes and other online forums —  that they value culture, career opportunities and trust in senior leadership, along with a balance of benefits that appeal to Gen Zers.

Conclusion  

As members of Gen Z continue to join the working population in the next decade, we’ll likely see employers continue to adapt to attract these new job seekers. Gen Z members, at this early stage in their careers, have already recognized Apple, Google, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley and Facebook as the five highest rated employers to work for.  

From our analyses on job application data, we found that millennials and Gen Z job seekers are applying to similar companies and metros. This will only heighten the pressure on companies across diverse industries to compete with their tech counterparts to recruit and hire skilled workers.  

We’ve been able to leverage Glassdoor data to get a snapshot of the jobs these young workers are applying to and what they care most about at work. As this generation continues to mature, with more Gen Zers enter the workforce and current Gen Z workers progressing in their careers, we will be able to gain an even richer understanding of Generation Z.