This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Lisa B. Frank, the CEO of recruitment firm LBF Strategies. The following has been edited for length and clarity.I've been recruiting in the public relations, communications, and marketing space since 2006, and I've had my own firm where I recruit nationally and at all levels for 10 years.
I also offer career-coaching services where I help people navigate their job search.Over the last couple of years, I've started seeing Gen Z workers enter the job market.Right now is the most intense job market that I've ever recruited in — even more intense than the 2008-2009 recession. Earlier this year, it was a candidate's market, but right now there's a lot of uncertainty about how a recession will impact the job market. So far we've largely seen it affecting tech, but other sectors are considering their resourcing, too.
Salary ranges are likely to come down a little bit after inflating earlier this year, and that's most likely to affect Gen Zers with one to four years of job experience, as they tend to be paid the least.Gen Z is struggling with a lack of context in the job marketThe main issue with Gen Z is not asking too much or too little, but not knowing how to ask and whom to ask for what they want. Gen Zers really only have the context of maybe their roommates or their parents to guide them because many of them came out of school after we went into lockdown.What I'm seeing over and over again is that there's a gap in professional socialization — and sometimes professional maturity. They simply haven't grown up sitting in an office with a boss who will say "meet this client" or "come into this meeting." They also haven't watched more experienced people handle a crisis situation.The one thing I urge all Gen Z job seekers to do is to find a mentor.
Mentors can help you identify your skill set and hone in on cultural fit. There's also a lack of knowledge on how to position yourself to ask for more money Often, when my clients ask for a certain amount of money, I'll ask how they got there, and they'll say that their dad told them to ask for that — or even a social-media influencer said this is what they should be asking for. There's one TikTok influencer who coaches young people to always ask for more than $100,000.When people tend to ask for too much, it's usually because they're unsure what they should be asking for.
Sometimes, particularly for those in New York City, it's based on their own cost of living and might not be industry appropriate.I prefer to think about a job offer or negotiation as, "What's the best way to get more empowerment?" Jobs are more than just a salary. Young people need to be conscious of whether the workplace aligns with their values, whether they want to be remote or hybrid, and whether it's a good stepping stone for better jobs down the track.Recently, I had a client who was fine with the compensation range we talked about. Then the company came forth with an offer within that compensation range, and she responded that she was highly insulted by the offer.
She was only three years out of school. I don't want to sound negative — I believe wholeheartedly that candidates should be paid fairly. But there will be a disparity between where your skill set is and the salary you're asking for, and it might make it very difficult for you to advance because your skill set has to grow into it.When I coach people through a negotiation, I phrase it in a way that indicates how excited they are about the company and also leaves room for flexibilityIf money is the most important factor in accepting the offer, what's the amount you want or need? Be direct about what you're asking for, and be mindful about what's reasonable in your industry by consulting trade publications or associations in your field.
A salary-expectation difference of up to $5,000 shouldn't be a deal breaker. "I'd really like to be as close to $100,000 as possible" or "If we could get to $120,000, I'm ready to give notice today" are two ways to phrase it.If you want a specific title, you could ask, "Would it be possible to do a review in three to six months with the option of a title promotion?" To nail down a certain start date, you could say, "I noticed that you included a start date that's three weeks from now. I already have a week-long vacation planned for next month.
Would you be open to me starting earlier and taking that time off next month?"So much gets lost in translation with email. If you're really excited about an opportunity, you want the hiring manager to hear the excitement and enthusiasm in your voice over the phone or on video. A formal offer letter should always reflect what was agreed upon during these conversations, so make sure you see it all in writing before you formally accept.