Today’s job market is highly competitive, and attracting top talent can be especially difficult in a world where demands for young professionals with specialized skills and a desire for flexibility are increasing. However, it’s clear that to future-proof their organizations, companies today must be investing in the next generation of talent — Gen Z.
From our surveys we’ve found that some industries are more likely to be making that effort to welcome more members of Gen Z through their doors than others — such as the manufacturing industry. In fact, we discovered that the manufacturing industry is among the top three industries that are the most likely to remain steadfast in both their entry-level and intern hiring from 2022 to 2023, or even increase their hiring goals. In other words, your competition is preparing to recruit Gen Zers, and so should you.
As the manufacturing industry continues to be one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S., you need to understand how you can leverage data on Gen Z to entice them to come along for the ride. However, that can be a challenge if you don’t know what this new generation of workers care about and want to see in their future employers.
To help you drum up excitement about this hands-on industry with a lot to offer, we’ve compiled some data about what Gen Z wants in the workplace, and how you can leverage that data to strategically promote your roles to top talent.
What we know about Gen Z (& how you can use it)
Gen Z cares about compensation
It’s no surprise that the economic downturn has put compensation at the top of the list for Gen Z candidates when it comes to workplace priorities. When we asked Gen Z candidates in 2023 about what factors would cause them to back out of an offer for another opportunity, a higher compensation was the most popular response. Specifically, 66% of candidates admitted that they would rescind their offer for a superior compensation package.
There are many different facets of manufacturing, and many have high earning potential, from plant operators to engineers. In fact, roles such as manufacturing engineers have top entry-level earners reaching annual salaries of $76,500 across the U.S. (A 2022 RippleMatch survey found that 41% of entry-level engineers make between $61-$80k a year.) And even if your roles don’t have salaries reaching that high quite yet, you can emphasize the potential to grow one’s salary as they take on more responsibility. If you’re looking to attract Gen Z candidates to careers in manufacturing, you’ll want to both put your best offer forward to protect yourself from reneges, as well as highlight the potential for candidates to earn higher salaries as they grow their careers.
To understand a little more about what salaries interns and entry-level workers are making across different roles and industries, read our benchmarking report on the Gen Z job search.
Gen Z cares about career growth and career alignment
Contrary to popular belief, Gen Z is a loyal bunch. Our data shows that over 60% of Gen Z candidates see themselves in the same role for 2.5 years or more — proving that this generation of employees is looking for long-term alignment and meaningful work. At the same time, this generation is also focused on career advancement, so while they are willing to invest in your company, they need you to invest in them as well. Specifically, we found that 72.2% of full-time candidates said they expect to receive a promotion in their first year of employment with a company.
The manufacturing industry offers plenty of opportunities for growth and advancement, so emphasizing this when advertising positions to Gen Z candidates is key. Moving from entry-level roles such as a machine operator or junior engineer to higher-level positions such as quality assurance manager or research engineer requires a mix of dedication, experience, and mentorship. Showcasing a smooth path through career development programs, mentorship, and the ability to move up the ranks quickly is essential when targeting Gen Z job seekers.
Gen Z cares about workplace flexibility, but not necessarily fully remote opportunities
Gen Z workers are looking for meaningful work and financial stability, but also value flexibility in the workplace — to a certain degree. And that’s clear when it comes to how they prefer to work. Our data shows that the most preferred work setting for Gen Z candidates today is hybrid, with more than 60% of candidates saying they want the chance to both work from home AND go into the office. Looking closer, when we asked candidates if they preferred that they choose which days they go into the office in a hybrid setting or that their company designates their in-office days, more candidates chose the latter, signifying that they want some direction and guidance as they enter the workforce.
Wherever you can, it’s important to offer Gen Z some flexibility in their roles and control over their own schedules. And while many hands-on roles will require in-person work, there are plenty of opportunities in the manufacturing industry for remote or hybrid work in marketing, sales, customer service, and administration positions. You may also want to consider how you can best appeal to Gen Z for those fully in-person roles by ensuring that they will benefit from all the perks of coming into the office — such as networking and professional development opportunities.
Getting the appropriate offer in front of Generation Z is the best way to attract them to a career in manufacturing. It’s critical to provide flexibility, mentorship, professional development, and a fun, welcoming work environment — and by doing so, you can create a strong pipeline of talent for your company.
Best practices for attracting and marketing to Gen Z
Now that you understand what Gen Z wants in their future employers and how the manufacturing industry can use that data to better market their roles, it’s time to dive into some best practices for attracting this generation of workers.
Have an active online presence
Gen Z is composed of digital natives who are engaged with technology, so it stands to reason that having an active online presence can help you attract and retain Gen Z employees. In fact, we found that the most popular way that Gen Z candidates learn about new companies and open roles today is through research online. Staying active on social media, updating your website, and maintaining your blog (if you have one) are all ways to boost your online presence and show students you are actively looking for talent like them.
Offer a mix of virtual and in-person recruitment events
Because Gen Z prefers a hybrid work environment, it’s critical to apply this same treatment to your events strategy, and offer a mix of virtual and in-person recruitment events. Consider hosting live webinars alongside in-person campus visits to a select group of schools,, or even enlist a recruitment partner to help you organize events.
For tips, ideas, and best practices for hosting creative events, check out our guide on producing terrific candidate experiences: 100 Events & How to Do Them.
Provide a great candidate experience
The application process is a critical part of candidate experience and can make or break your chances of attracting Gen Z workers. Today, the biggest indicator of a poor application and hiring process is a lack of communication. And Gen Z told us that could be anything from not hearing back at all from a company if they are no longer advancing in the hiring process to not receiving timely updates (within a week) about their application status.
And don’t think that a flaw in your hiring process will be hidden from other prospective candidates. It’s always a possibility that upset candidates will take to sites like Glassdoor to share their negative experiences.
The ‘candidate experience’ may be Gen Z’s first interaction with your brand — and should only stand to reaffirm their decision to move forward with you. To do this, make sure you provide updated, valuable information and are responding in a timely manner. Giving candidates the feeling of being valued and having an understanding of the applicants’ goals is key to landing top, young talent.
Reach Gen Z early
Reaching Gen Z early is essential to attracting and retaining young and diverse talent to the manufacturing industry. Employers should start connecting with high school students, first-year college students, sophomores, or even younger generations exploring different career paths to open their eyes to what you have to offer.
Brand recognition takes time, and one of the best ways to build relationships with Generation Z is by hosting informal events for underclassmen. Inviting these students to attend events that offer insights into the world of manufacturing can be a great way to get them interested in the field and your business. By doing so, employers are building a foundation for future talent and getting the word out about the benefits of a manufacturing career.
How RippleMatch helps candidates uncover your opportunities
RippleMatch is the recruitment automation platform changing how Gen Z finds work. By replacing job boards with matching and automation, RippleMatch eliminates the most time-intensive parts of the recruitment process for both employers and job seekers.
RippleMatch can help you build your brand & increase diversity
For employers and candidates alike, RippleMatch is the perfect solution for attracting top talent in the manufacturing industry. Our platform provides an easy and efficient way for you to expand your network and build brand recognition with early career professionals, and for students to understand why they might be a great fit for an industry they either have, or may not have yet considered. Plus, we can help you meet D&I goals by connecting you with our diverse candidate pool representing more than 180+ HBCUs and HSIs.
RippleMatch can help you manage applicant volume, and provide a seamless candidate experience
RippleMatch allows you to quickly sort through inbound applicants, identify top prospects, and create a more responsive candidate experience by:
- Automatically surfacing viable candidates and flagging those that are unqualified to reduce applicant review time by 70%.
- Unlocking analytics into your entire early career pipeline, no matter where a candidate was sourced from.
- Allowing you to respond to candidates in days — not months — and create an exceptional candidate experience that stands out from the competition.
RippleMatch can help you get the most out of your recruitment events
RippleMatch also offers a standout Events management system that allows you to:
- Capture every lead and engage the right talent at scale with the most intuitive platform for recruiting events.
- Turn RSVPs into hires. With a single source of truth for candidate information, follow ups are a breeze. Invite candidates to apply for the right jobs and keep in touch.
- Measure ROI by seeing which events lead to hires and where you are meeting diverse talent.
Recruiting top Gen Z talent in the manufacturing industry can be demanding, but it doesn’t have to be. By leveraging data on Gen Z and the right technology to help you scale your efforts, increase your impact for events, and provide an amazing candidate experience, your company can stand out from the competition and bring in promising candidates from a variety of backgrounds.
Interested in how RippleMatch can support your recruitment efforts? Book a demo today to learn more about our platform and why top employers are turning to us to recruit early career talent.