Over half of Gen Z is concerned about employability

Careers for university applicants

Our latest Navigating Changing Options (NCO) survey explores the career goals and concerns of the next generation of workers

In July, The Student Room surveyed 2,693 Gen Z students (aged 16 and over) to learn how prepared they feel to enter the job market and what kind of roles they are looking out for.

Over half (54%) of the respondents told us they were either “quite” or “very” concerned about getting a job after they graduate (or finish their studies).¹ Sadly, only 6% of respondents were “not at all” concerned.

When asked if they felt the government was doing enough to advise and inform them, nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents said “No”.² This is a cohort that feels anxious about the future and undersupported.

So how can we successfully integrate Gen Zs into our organisations? Here’s what you need to know:

1. They (probably) already have a career path in mind

Gen Zs are known for being responsible and forward-thinking when it comes to their finances, education and careers.

When we asked participants if they had decided on their future career, 38% said “Yes” and 35% said “Maybe“.

Q. Have you decided on your future career path?

For recruiters, this is an opportunity for targeted engagement.

2. They are looking for specific, personalised answers

Gen Zs who already know (or think they know) what career they want don’t need generic career advice.

As digital natives, they expect to find resources and support online that is tailored to their needs, such as:

  • ways to connect with employers in their chosen field
  • relevant work experience opportunities
  • advice about applying to specific companies, apprenticeships or graduate schemes
  • guidance about their suitability for certain roles
  • information about training requirements, progression routes and salaries for their career path
  • real stories about the experiences of career professionals, graduate employees and peers who are applying for similar roles

The kind of questions Gen Zs are asking reveals a lot about their intended career pathways.

Capture their attention when they are doing research. You could achieve this by providing valuable advice content or through direct engagement.

On The Student Room, we have dedicated careers forums where students can post questions and have important conversations with employers, experts and their peers.

3. Salary is important to them (but so is a good work-life balance and meaningful work)

We asked our survey audience to choose up to three factors they are looking for in their ideal career.

This question received 6382 responses from 2266 participants:

Ideal career

Two-fifths of respondents picked “a high salary” as one of their top criteria – perhaps unsurprising given the economy and the cost of living crisis.

However, these respondents also wanted “a good work life balance” (30%) and an “opportunity to travel” (14%), which suggests that while they want to earn a good wage, they may not be willing to sacrifice flexibility in their lifestyles.

Why factors were important to them: “the opportunity to make a difference” and “sense of purpose/aligned with my values” ranked third and fourth, above self-preserving choices like “good job security” (18%) and “progression opportunities” (12%).

The results also suggest that respondents care more about a role being “varied and interesting” (21%) than they do about how hard they will have to work (only 9% wanted a “challenging” role, and just 7% wanted a “stress-free” role).

Interestingly, work location – whether hybrid (5%), from home (3%) or office-based (3%) – didn’t seem to be that important to them.

What to do next

  1. Provide more reassurance and support for worried Gen Z applicants – they need it now more than ever
  2. Find ways to target Gen Zs when they are showing an interest in your organisation, your field, or roles you can offer – have a strong presence where they are asking questions, and join in the conversation if you can
  3. Be clear about the salary (or salary bracket) you are offering now, as well as the future earning potential for employees who excel. Let students know what they could earn by entering your profession (especially if it’s in a high salary range).
  4. Emphasise your purpose, values and impact: Talk about your why, how employees can make a difference, and get employees to share what they love about working for you in terms of value-alignment
  5. Get support with your Gen Z recruitment – we would be happy to help you engage with your ideal candidates on our site or through a range of targeted communications

Get in touch:
0800 999 3222

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¹Navigating Changing Options (NCO), Wave 8, July 2022
NCO allows us to spot trends in how students are thinking, feeling and making decisions.
Survey respondents: UK-based members of the Student Room Community or visitors to the site or social media pages, aged over 16


¹Thinking about the current situation, how concerned are you about getting a job after you graduate/finish your studies? (Base: 2260)
²Do you feel the government is doing enough to support students around information, advice and guidance? (Base: 2203)
³Have you decided on your future career path? (Base: 2247)
4What are you looking for in your ideal career? (Please select up to three) (Base: 2266)