Phone addiction is the elephant in the room we know should be addressed but isn’t.

Phone addition for Gen Z

No better way to say “I’m not that into you or the job you’re offering” than bringing your phone into your interview. Phone addiction is the elephant in the room we know should be addressed but isn’t. As recruiters we see this all too often, but no more than with the Gen Z applicants we work with. Though people routinely lay their phone on a table, meeting desk, the desk of interviewer, the message is still the same, the person you’re speaking to takes second place to what may or may not come through your phone. When our kids were small, we always stressed how important it was to look people in the eye when speaking to them. When they were younger it was just about teaching good manners, however as they got older, and the use of personal electronic devices (PEDs) exploded it became obvious good old-fashioned manners would become a huge advantage to those from their generation who could maintain eye contact and carry on a conversation. A recent Business Journal article highlighted what many saw coming and how Gen Zers have been detrimentally impacted by the overuse of PEDs and the impact that screen time would have on the ability of some to effectively communicate, and the advantage those who were taught the value of conversation have over so many of their peers. The good news is that the advantage is not an insurmountable one.

Here are a few highlights from that article:

  • In a survey of U.S. workers involved in hiring for entry-level positions, ResumeBuilder found 31% of hiring managers said they avoid hiring Gen Zers and would prefer to hire older workers.
  • The two of the top four reasons caught my attention: “Gen Zers lacking communication skills (39%) and not being prepared (36%)”. Of the 94% of hiring managers surveyed who said they have interviewed Gen Zers, many noted having experienced Gen Zers struggling with eye contact (57%).

The good news for Gen Z is the number of tools for them to train themselves in the art of communication, books like:

Brian Grazer’s Face to Face: The Art of Human Connection

Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers

Both offer great insight into the value of in-person communication and ways to develop the skills necessary to be an effective communicator and a more valuable employee.