„Appropriate? Good? Not bad?”-Generation Z looking for a job

2023. 08. 07.

Generation Z’s job search opportunities have been greatly enhanced by the expansion of the online space. Nowadays, there are many open positions to choose from. Has this made things more difficult for employers? What should the new generation do to find a suitable job? Where to look and what to choose? Interview with Renáta Bečvarovska, Regional HR professional at ExxonMobil Hungary.

Are the opportunities for the new generation really endless? Has this made things more difficult for employers?

I would not say that this has increased the challenges for the Employers. We actually see this as an opportunity for additional space or areas to build awareness of our company and to reach out to potential candidates. Yes, the competition is very strong and indeed the number of opportunities to choose from is very high. But in the end, it is always about matching the skills that the candidate has and the skills required for the given job. We, at ExxonMobil, are focusing on matchmaking these two and offering a long-term career opportunity where certain skills can be matching several career paths, and upskilling of our employees are in the center of our heart and everyday focus.

Where do graduates look today? Where do you need to be as an employer to find the right candidates?

To reach the right candidates with the right skills, it is not enough to post the job and wait for the applications. Those times have passed. We have to build relationships with the candidates already during their university years to build up the image of the company, so by the time the students are selecting the right company for an internship or for their first job, they understand our core values (integrity, care, courage, excellence, and resilience) and know what we can offer. We at ExxonMobil have also identified a selected number of universities with whom we started to collaborate more intensively where for example we provide business lectures and presentations on various topics. This gives us the opportunity to get closer to the younger generation and for the students to collaborate with professionals from their field of study.

What is Generation Z looking for? Is there such a thing as a dream job? Are expectations realistic?

Based on what we see, there is more and more weight on the company values and how aligned the job seekers are with these. This alignment in the values drives many times the decision to join the company or not. Personally, I think it is not only about the values of the company but also how much these are shared with the broader public. Sometimes there is a mismatch here as well where it is our job to make sure that not only our employees understand our core values but also the broader public. They need to understand what we stand for, what our company culture looks like, what are the career progression opportunities and how strong the leadership culture is.

Looking at it from the other side, what is the ideal candidate like? What do companies look for in a potential employee?

We have a wide variety of roles that require different areas of expertise (in Finance, IT, and Commercial) but all of these have something in common: we are looking for candidates with critical thinking and problem-solving skills who are eager to learn, are willing to take on the initiative and are seeking to grow professionally. Our workforce is very diverse, with 50+ various nationalities, so the experience-building can be very enriching and the notion of collaboration is taken to the next level.

What is the entry-level? Is it really the only possibility to start as a trainee? Is there a full-time job during university?

At ExxonMobil Hungary, we really have many internship opportunities in all three of our main departments (Finance, IT, and Commercial) for students who require it for their university studies but also for those who would like to test out their interest in their field of study. Many of our interns choose to become full-time employees. Our aim is to offer a long-term career where we build up the skills the employees need for their next roles. On the other hand, to answer your question, for certain roles, we also provide an opportunity for university students to have a regular full-time job, especially in the last year of their studies where again the intention is to grow them even beyond their studies and offer them career opportunities after their diploma is finished.

Is job hopping real? Do workers and employers have the same career path in mind?

Yes, it is real. As mentioned before, for us, the essential skills are needed for the role and the same skills can be needed for a wide variety of roles. We are working on upskilling our employees to meet the needs of the business. In reality, this means that employees are switching roles on average every 1.5-2 years where they have the ability to learn new things, provide their expertise, and grow professionally.

If I take my example, I have been with ExxonMobil for more than 15 years and I have never spent in one role more than 2 years. I have focused on the HR field and had the opportunity to be part of various Recruitment teams – local, regional, and also global. I’ve tested my consultant skills as an HR Business Partner, my analytical skills in Compensation and Data Management team. I’ve had the opportunity to be an individual contributor and also Supervisor for several countries. I migrated work in and out of the country and never once had a doubt that the company has a plan for me based on my interests and expertise. It is a shared responsibility for both the company and the employee and I find that it works well at ExxonMobil.

Does success come fast enough? How successful is Generation Z and how successful do they feel?

That is a great question. It is important to define what success actually is, as it can mean different things to different people. For Generation Z it is typically not linked with a steep career curve but rather with a life and work that has a purpose and is impactful. They are confident enough to share this with their employer and in case of a mismatch they are not hesitant to move on. This puts the Employers under a certain time pressure to adapt and make sure that their employees feel valued and understand how they fit into the big picture, and how they contribute to the success and purpose of the company.

What could the trump card be? What is most attractive to Generation Z in a job offer?

The typical scenario from the past decades that the company provides a competitive salary and the employee is adjusting to the company values does not work well with the new generation. Generation Z does not know life without the internet or globalization. They are ambitious, competitive, and adherent to their principles, which also influences their attitude to work, typically value their own personal freedom and time, and have different requirements from their employer in this area. They demand flexible working hours and their freedom to choose their place of work.

On the other hand, they are very confident in their abilities to add value and provide their Employer with a wide range of innovative ideas. They expect to be heard and need their space for creativity. They are very driven and if aligned with the company values can be self-motivated. This mix creates a very strong and reliable workforce for the Employer.

What makes ExxonMobil stand out from the crowd? What do you think can make a company successful with Generation Z? Is there a recipe for success?

The Vision of our company is to lead the industry in innovations that advance modern living and a net-zero future. Combined with the focus on meaningful development can be very appealing to the new generation. The area on which we need to work more, in my opinion, is how to share with the broader public all of this. What are our core values, what do we believe in, and how do we develop our employees and give their job a real purpose? That there is no one career for all, but each of us has plenty of opportunities to grow both professionally and personally as well. The off-the-job culture is very strong with many different networks that offer opportunities to collaborate or to socialize.

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