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Gen Z Graduates

Gen Z’s Major Shift: Why Today’s Gen Z Graduates Choose Careers Outside Their Fields

Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012, are known for their unique perspectives and values. As they prepare to enter the workforce in large numbers, a noticeable trend has emerged among Gen Z graduates – many choose careers outside their fields of study. In this post, we will explore the reasons behind this phenomenon and delve into how Gen Z defines success in the workplace.

Gen Z Graduates

Work-life Balance and Flexibility

One key factor driving Gen Z’s career choices is their desire for work-life balance and flexibility. A Deloitte Report found that 75% of respondents prefer a job with full flexibility over a high salary. Compared to other generations, Gen Z puts more emphasis on work-life balance, prioritising their well-being over money.

A primary factor influencing this preference is the unique environment in which Gen Z grew up. Being the first generation to have widespread access to electronics and growing up during the COVID-19 pandemic, platforms like Zoom used for remote schooling and work have permanently shaped their perception of work, leading them to seek flexibility and work-life balance in their careers.

During semester breaks, many Gen Z individuals gain firsthand experience in their desired fields, allowing them to experience what it’s like to work in those industries. However, after experiencing a few months of work, some may find that the lack of freedom and flexibility is not aligned with their career aspirations. A news article from Sing Tao Daily highlights that despite the high salary of $50,000, which may be deemed attractive by societal norms, fresh graduates are still deterred from pursuing careers in the big four accounting firms due to their reputation for being stressful and draining. In their pursuit of work-life balance, Gen Z is willing to explore different fields if their original area of work fails to provide the desired flexibility.

Growth Potential and Learning Opportunities

While Gen Z places a heavy emphasis on work-life balance, they are incredibly ambitious and value growth potential in the workplace. According to a Forbes article, many Gen Z individuals perceive industries like manufacturing or construction as limiting their career potential. As a result, they may be hesitant and less enthusiastic about pursuing roles in these fields, viewing them as short-term gigs rather than avenues for long-term growth.

Gen Z’s ambition for continuous learning and growth further reinforces its aversion to industries with limited potential. Recognising the potential limitations on their future growth, many graduates proactively pursue different career paths that offer more promising opportunities. In Hong Kong, for example, the traditional media industry has experienced a decline in popularity, prompting individuals who have studied in that field to seek alternative career options. They often opt to pivot towards adjacent sectors, such as social media management or marketing, which not only provide better prospects for professional advancement but also align with the evolving job market landscape.

As fresh graduates gain a deeper understanding of their chosen field and its growth potential, they may find their initial enthusiasm waning and start to seek new opportunities. They recognise that in today’s ever-changing job market, staying relevant requires a commitment to continuous learning and adaptability. Consequently, Gen Z displays remarkable eagerness to venture into new fields with ample growth potential and learning opportunities, even if it means stepping outside their comfort zones into other fields.

Value Alignment and Social Consciousness

In addition to seeking opportunities, Gen Z is also actively searching for roles that align with their values. According to a Handshake blog, 65% of undergrads would not apply to a job if the employer’s values did not align with theirs. Furthermore, Gen Z strongly favours companies that have a strong social conscience. Over 70% of Gen Z individuals believe it is at least moderately important for their employer to be committed to making a positive impact on ESG issues. This reflects Gen Z’s strong desire to work for companies that engage in meaningful work and contribute positively to the world.

This search for socially conscious companies and roles is driven by the fact that Gen Z is the most socially conscious generation. Gen Z has come of age during a period marked by significant social and environmental challenges, including social inequality, climate change and human rights abuses. Moreover, as digital natives, Gen Z has witnessed the world’s diversity and interconnectedness through their devices, which has shaped their perception of the world.

Over time, individuals may realise that their field of study no longer aligns with their values or that they aspire to work in an industry with greater social awareness. In Hong Kong, several roles have gained popularity among fresh graduates, including sustainability consultants, corporate social responsibility managers, and social entrepreneurs. These roles appeal to them not only due to their potential for financial success but also because they align with their core values. Overall, social impact and personal values tie closely with Gen Z individuals’ job preferences, which may push them to pursue a career outside their field.

Conclusion

Gen Z is poised to become the dominant force in the workplace soon. They prioritize work-life balance, seek growth and value socially conscious roles. As employers, it is vital to embrace these changes rather than fear them. As a member of Gen Z, do not be afraid to make bold career switches if it allows you to be true to yourself and thrive. The phenomenon of fresh graduates choosing to pursue careers outside their field is just one of the many transformations that lie ahead in the future.

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