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What do Gen Zs want from their careers?

Millennial preferences have become Gen Z expectations – perks and gestures from employers are no longer enough. Here’s a tangible breakdown of what Gen Zs want from their careers in 2023 and beyond.


At the start of this year, LinkedIn was filled with posts from some of the best and brightest talent from across the tech world. Nothing too out of the ordinary there – except rather than chipping in on industry news or sharing news of promotion or work anniversaries, these employees were announcing that they’d been laid off. So far this year, 168,908 people have been laid off from 570 tech companies – including Amazon, Google, Meta and Microsoft. 

These big-tech companies previously fostered a culture that’s deeply appealing to Gen Z jobseekers – many junior employees documented their workdays on TikTok, showcasing fun perks and carefully curated office spaces. Some of these very same content creators found themselves part of the mass layoffs. 

Throughout the past few months, Gen Z job seekers across the world have watched as people found themselves unexpectedly – and in many cases, unceremoniously – jobless. And they’re not happy. Regardless of whether or not they thought the redundancies were justifiable, over half of Gen Zs believe that unscheduled emails, phone calls and video chats are an inappropriate way to announce redundancies.

Seeing some of the biggest companies in the world shed staff in such a brutal sweep has knocked Gen Z’s trust; so much so that 58% say that it’s unlikely they’ll work for a company that recently laid off a portion of employees. Regardless of the reasons for making them, mass redundancies are a huge dent in trust for this demographic – they’ll need big commitments and tangible proof points that the future of their role is guaranteed.

A future

Gen Zs know their worth from the moment they arrive at their first job. They expect their employers to know it, too. According to Handshake, 71% of Gen Zs expect to be promoted within 6 months to 1.5 years of starting work. Without clear lines of progression, they might not stick around too long. 

Gen Zs also aren’t afraid to jump ship if they aren’t getting the skills and training they need. A study by Amazon found that 3 in 4 young workers plan to resign from their current jobs due to a lack of skills development opportunities. Often, Gen Zs are resorting to upskilling themselves, logging 50% more hours attending online careers courses than any other generation.  It’s not just about climbing the ladder – the next generation of workers wants to be equipped with a skillset that will see them through every stage of their careers. 

Without the necessary learning and development, a structured career ladder means nothing. Gen Zs have shown again and again that they want to learn at work. They’ll be looking for employers who can help them to do that – and reward them for it.


Mentorship looks different in every organisation and industry. But our research indicates that most current students stumble into mentorships by complete accident, which means there are plenty of young people out there who don’t have the support. 

“We’ve found that the struggle for many candidates early on in their careers is as much about discovering what they like doing and where they will be happy, as it is being fit for the role itself”, says Hugh Allen, Head of Product at Gradguide. “Through mentorship and events, our users have a direct line to the people and employers who can offer guidance from these initial discovery stages through to the application and interview.” 

Mentors are a great asset for graduates navigating their first role – but if anything, they have even more value to students, who are earlier on in their career-building journeys and craving some direction and support. More formalised mentorships for students could help to alleviate confusion. 

Once students become graduates and enter their first role, their relationship with their manager becomes one of the most important. “It’s so nice to have somebody say, ‘Oh, just checking in, I’ve heard that things are going well, you seem to be getting along well, people seem to like you, No complaints’,” says one student we interviewed. “Every job I’ve had, I’ve always found that kind of thing to be really valuable.”

Dynamic Boundaries 

Gen Zs are entering a very different workforce to that of their predecessors – one where the nine-to-five doesn’t have to be as rigid, and where flexibility is a top priority. 

The huge spike in remote or hybrid roles after the pandemic has only intensified the need for Gen Zs to have work-life balance – and boundaries about where work ends and play begins. This demographic will be instrumental in forging a flexible culture at work, defining when and where they work as well as changing their hours when needed. In return for this flexibility, Gen Zs will be more likely to stay loyal to companies that respect their boundaries – and allow them to flex when needed. 

A smooth transition 

Research by Forage shows that there’s a lot of uncertainty among students about what their career paths should look like. 32% of students are “very unclear” about what they need to do to have a successful career, and 49% are “somewhat clear” about it. Forage also found that 98% of students think they could benefit from more practical training. 

The journey to career readiness doesn’t have to be a bumpy one. If students had more opportunities to connect with future employers before starting work – or even before applying for a job – they would arrive at work with a strong sense of how to maximise their potential. Ultimately, Gen Zs want their university experience to better prepare them for work – whether that looks like mentorship, pre-work training, or better quality careers information. 

Employability is just the start. The needs and priorities of Gen Z students are changing. Learn what else they are prioritising in 2023 and beyond in our latest blog.