Gen Z Is Losing Confidence in the Job Search in 2023

To get a sense for how internship and entry-level job candidates are perceiving today’s market, we surveyed more than 3,000 Gen Z students and new grads.

The economy has been nothing less than unpredictable over the last few years (especially the last few months) — and consequently, so has the landscape for job hunters. And Gen Z, the newest entrants to the workforce, have definitely been shaken by what this means for their future in the labor market. While the second half of 2022 was marked by the threat of a looming recession, layoffs, and hiring freezes, Gen Zers remained confident that they would find an internship or job in the next year that would meet their standards. As 2023 began, however, their confidence began to wane.   

To get a sense for how internship and entry-level job candidates are perceiving today’s market, we surveyed more than 3,000 Gen Z students and new grads about their job searches, and compared it to data we collected in August 2022 and beyond. See below for what we’ve found: 

Nearly 60% of Gen Zers are not confident they’ll find a good role this year

When we surveyed candidates heading into the Fall 2022 semester, we found that 85% were either confident or neutral that they would find an internship or job that met their standards (with 40% being ‘confident and 45% being ‘neutral’). Despite an uncertain economy, just 15% of those candidates were not confident about finding a role that met their standards.  

Heading into Spring 2023, however, the number of candidates who are not confident they’ll secure a good position in this economy has risen to 51%, and then again to 57% at the end of the season (May 2023).

As they continue to watch the effects of an economic downturn and hear stories of seemingly widespread layoffs, it’s understandable why Gen Z’s confidence in their work prospects is dropping. That could also be why students today are relying much more heavily on sending out a higher volume of applications for that one offer than they were in the past.

When we surveyed students in March 2022, we found two trends: that students were either sending out a large number of applications (more than 60), or sending out a much lower number of applications (1-20). For example, we found that while 27.7% of full-time candidates sent out more than 60 applications, 41.7% sent out just 1-20 applications. Today, the trend has shifted more toward sending out a larger volume of applicants, with under a quarter of candidates limiting their search to 1-20 applications. 

Gen Z’s specific struggles in searching for a job have shifted too over the last few months, which is worth noting from an employer’s point of view.

The 2 biggest challenges for Gen Z have shifted to knowing which companies are hiring, and finding a role that’s a fit

When we surveyed students and new grads in August 2022, we found that their biggest challenges included (1) having their application stand out to recruiters, and (2) being adequately prepared for the interview process and accompanying assessments.

Today, Gen Z is clearly facing a different set of challenges. In the data we collected at the start of 2023, we found that the top issues Gen Z said they are struggling with are (1) knowing which companies are hiring interns or entry-level candidates amidst widespread layoffs and (2) finding a role that’s right for their skills and interests. In fact, having their application stand out to a recruiter fell to the third most common challenges, and being adequately prepared for the interview process dropped toward the bottom of the list. 

To help students understand exactly which companies are hiring now for interns and entry-level roles, and which roles would be a good for their skills and interests, RippleMatch hosted a two-week long digital career fair, the Career Discovery Fair, which featured company partners with open opportunities and a quiz to help students and news grads learn about the career paths that match their passions. You can learn more about what this first-of-its-kind experience looked like here.

Recruiters can help Gen Z in their job searches by showcasing open roles and what they entail

Getting a clear understanding of why Gen Z is less confident in finding a job in today’s market can help employers better support internship and entry-level candidates and open their doors to this talent.

One way talent acquisition professionals can help Gen Z today is by making their job listings easy to find. Be sure open positions are broadcasted across multiple channels to get your offer in front of the right candidates, and utilize recruitment automation technology like RippleMatch to highlight open roles to a diverse slate of candidates. Plus, you can also offer educational events to help internship and job seekers better understand your industry, and more specifically whether your roles or programs would be a good fit for them.

It’s no surprise that Gen Z’s confidence in the labor market is waning, but by understanding why that might be so (in terms of the biggest challenges they are facing today) can help you tailor your recruitment strategy to better meet Gen Z where they are. Now is a perfect time to review your job postings and the channels you often use to broadcast your open roles to make sure you are truly reaching top talent — and not missing out on great-fit candidates because they just aren’t aware of your open opportunities. 

Interested in learning more about Gen Z in the workplace? Download our report on early career recruiting and internship and entry-level candidates in 2023. 


Ready to learn more?

Book a demo to learn why leading employers rely on RippleMatch to efficiently hire the right talent and build diverse teams.

Cindy Loggins

Global Head of University Recruiting & Programs

"Centralizing everything on RippleMatch reduced our overall applicant review time by 70%."

Ebonee Bradley

University Recruiter

"With one click of a button, I can get tons of great candidates from underrepresented groups."