As Gen Z prepares to enter the workforce, they bring with them a unique set of skills, values, and expectations. Having grown up with technology in the palm of their hands, from iPhones at home to laptops in school, this generation is more digitally literate than any other generation. Their frequent access to an interconnected global network online has fostered a strong sense of awareness and social responsibility. They value diversity, inclusivity, and sustainability; while expecting workplaces to reflect these priorities. Many of them also spent those critical college years gaining professional work experience in lockdown during the pandemic, changing the way many in Gen Z approach the workforce.
As a member of Gen Z, I’m here to take a deep dive into what it means to effectively prepare and integrate into the workforce.
As I have only ever applied to internships or a summer waitressing job, I turned to my colleagues at Xenophon for advice through their own experience on entering the workforce.
Morgan Chapman, a recent college graduate from the University of North Carolina and account coordinator, talked with me about how the job hunt post-college can be especially challenging, particularly in competitive sectors like communications, where the application process can stretch to six months. Rejections are common, which can be disheartening, but should be viewed as learning opportunities.
“Persevere and maintain the understanding that everything will eventually fall into place, even if it takes time.”
Additionally, networking is paramount. Don’t underestimate the value of connecting with your school alumni through LinkedIn; their insights and connections can be invaluable as you embark on your career journey.
Another key piece of advice for Gen Zers entering the workforce is to focus on showcasing tangible results from their experiences on their resumes. Annie Bushman, an account deputy at Xenophon, advises young professionals to highlight specific achievements that demonstrate their impact. Instead of simply stating, “Ran social media accounts for clients, X, Y, and Z,” it’s more effective to emphasize outcomes. For instance, you could say, “Increased followership by 30%, boosted brand engagements by 25%, and drove a 115% growth in sales.” This approach not only provides a clearer picture of the value you can bring to potential employers, but it also highlights your results-oriented mindset, distinguishing you in a competitive job market.
As I prepare to graduate in May, diving headfirst into the public relations industry seems a bit daunting at times. In school, I am taught the ins and outs of writing for public relations, but in the age of social media and technology, it’s important to be familiar with all of the tools at my disposal.
Senior Vice President; Mark Hazlin talked with me about learning the tools of the trade, for example, vetting journalists using Muck Rack or social media analytics using SEMRush. It’s crucial to go beyond just honing your writing and speaking abilities and delve into content creation, program management, as well as graphic and web design. Master the art of crafting captivating social media posts and leveraging video and audio tools to engage your audience effectively. Familiarize yourself with monitoring and listening software, which are invaluable for gauging the pulse of public opinion.
Furthermore, stay at the forefront of technology by learning everything you can about AI and PR. The PR landscape is in a constant state of flux, evolving faster than ever, and adapting to the changing ways people create, send, and consume information. Yet, the demand for professionals who can tell a compelling, timely, and relevant story remains unwaveringly high. Embrace this dynamic environment, and you’ll find a rewarding and enduring career in public relations.
During an interview, Vice President Jennifer Lay looks for three main things:
- The ability to have a conversation, not just recite what’s on the resume. So much of what we do as PR professionals is telling stories and relating to an audience. I want to understand and get a feel for who you are as a person, previous experiences, and how you see your career advancing.
- Being able to multitask. That may seem like a cliché job requirement, but for a specialized issues management firm like Xenophon, we work across multiple clients in multiple industries. We must be able to quickly switch from one client deliverable to the next without ever missing a beat.
- Someone who has a drive and willingness to learn. The PR industry is always evolving, and we must keep an eye on the latest trends or tech advancements to make sure we are providing the best service to our clients.
As my time at Xenophon unfolds and my pursuit of postgraduate opportunities in the PR field intensifies, I recognize the importance of tapping into the learning opportunities from my colleague’s expertise and experiences. I’ve gained invaluable advice for myself and those in similar positions, and my recommendation is to harness the abundance of resources around you.
My supervisors and peers serve not only as mentors but also as catalysts for my personal growth. The culture at Xenophon emphasizes an open dialogue, where questions are not only welcomed but encouraged, and every challenge becomes a stepping stone for learning. As the torch passes to the Gen Z workforce, the empowering words and guidance from the Xenophon team have instilled in me the confidence and readiness to navigate the competitive job market.