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What Generation Z is looking for in a job

Written on Jul 21, 2023

A new study finds that nearly 30% of the youngest professionals in today's full-time workforce are seeking jobs in sales, account management, marketing or advertising. And depending on their work experience, these job hunters are looking for average salaries anywhere from $55,000 to $83,000 a year.  

Those are two of the key takeaways from a review of job searches in June and July 2023 on the Fetti career platform, which caters primarily to Gen Z job seekers pursuing white-collar careers. Generation Z is generally defined as people born between 1997 and 2012, who are expected to make up 30% of the U.S. workforce by 2030. 

Based on data, the five most desired positions among Generation Z job seekers are ones in: 

  • Sales and account management (14.44%) 

  • Marketing and advertising (14.21%) 

  • Operations and strategy (12.62%) 

  • People/HR/recruitment (12.27%) 

  • Product (11.27%) 

But while those jobs turned out to be the most popular, they're not the ones with, on average, the highest minimum salary requirements. Jobs in software engineering take the top salary spot in Fetti's study for Gen Z workers across three categories: no experience, one to two years of experience and three to four years of experience. 

Here's the salary breakdown for would-be software engineers in each of those three buckets: 

  • No experience—$85,000. 

  • One to two years of experience—$110,000. 

  • Three to four years of experience—$125,000. 

According to Fetti's data, the lowest hoped-for salaries are: 

  • No experience—$52,000 in the design category. 

  • One to two years of experience—$65,000 in the marketing and advertising category. 

  • Three to four years of experience—$68,000 in the design category. 

For jobs in the most desired category—sales and account management—the minimum salary requirements range from $55,000 to $83,000. In marketing and advertising, the second most desired category, the range is $56,000 to $72,000. 

Fetti noted that some job seekers in the study might have lowered their salary preferences to boost the number of openings that popped up in their searches. 

Researchers said the study shows the salary expectations for members of Gen Z aren't unrealistic. Across the board, anticipated salaries rose in tandem with job seekers' work experience. 

The results of a 2022 survey commissioned by financial services providers Empower and Personal Capital call that reality into question. In the survey, members of Gen Z identified $171,633 as the average salary they would need to feel "financially healthy." That was the highest figure among any age group. 

A study released in 2023 by invoicing platform Skynova cited $124,494 as the average salary that Gen Z workers thought they would need to feel as though they had "made it." 

But salary isn’t everything. Researchers note that while salary may be important to Gen Z employees and they generally consider overall compensation and benefits first, they also consider equity stakes and workplace flexibility. 

"Gen Z workers are focused more on company culture, working for supportive and caring leaders and finding environments where they can thrive than previous generations of workers," researchers said. "This isn't to say that other generations don't care about the company culture, manager effectiveness or being set up for success. However, Gen Z workers tend to place a heavier focus on personal development and growth than their older peers." 

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