Millennials VS Gen Z in the Plastics Industry: Is There a Difference in Recruitment Approaches?

Millennials and Gen Z, two generations reshaping the global workforce, have left their mark on the plastics manufacturing industry as well – bringing distinct values, attitudes, and expectations to their careers. As employers in the plastics industry, understanding these nuances is fundamental in attracting, recruiting, and retaining top young talent.

But a one-size-fits-all approach to recruitment simply won’t cut it in this aggressive industry. The strategies that resonate with Millennials might not necessarily hit home with Gen Z. Knowing the differences – and the similarities – between these two generations can make a significant change to level up your recruitment process.

In this blog, we’ve compiled important notes and details to provide a clear, actionable guide on tailoring your recruitment strategies to effectively engage both Millennials and Gen Z in the plastics industry.

Millennials vs Gen Z

Before diving into the specifics, let’s explore the core demographic traits and lifestyle factors of Millennials and Gen Z that may impact their career choices and preferences.

Who are Millennials and Gen Z?

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, were born between 1981 and 1996. The oldest Millennials are now in their early 40s, while the youngest are in their mid to late twenties. They occupy a wide band of life stages, with older Millennials likely having established careers, homes, and families. Younger Millennials are early in their career paths, often living in apartments and having roommates.

On the other hand, Gen Z was born between 1997 and 2015, making them between the ages of 7 and 25. They’re just starting to make their mark on the workforce. Many are finishing their education and landing their first jobs. They’re typically still living at home or with roommates, and many have not yet reached milestones like marriage or parenthood.

What does this mean for recruitment?

These life stages influence what each generation is looking for at work. Millennials, especially older ones, may prioritize job stability and benefits that support their families, such as healthcare and parental leave. While Gen Z, at the start of their career journey, may value opportunities for growth, mentoring, and skill development.

Moreover, both generations are not just after a paycheck. They want to feel fulfilled in their jobs, make a positive impact, and contribute to meaningful work. This aspect is especially important in recruitment, where the promise of purpose can attract these young talents to the plastics industry.


Now, let’s delve into how Millennials and Gen Z approach each recruitment step while highlighting their unique perspectives and preferences. These insights can help you fine-tune your recruitment methods and will lay the foundation for effective strategies, ensuring they resonate with these generations at a deeper level.

Job Search Process and Platforms

Job seeking today is a predominantly digital venture, and Millennials and Gen Z are adept navigators of this reality. However, the tools they use and the ways they engage with these platforms can differ, presenting opportunities for savvy recruiters in the plastics industry.

Millennials, born in the dawn of the internet age, often lean on online job platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, or Glassdoor. These platforms serve a dual purpose: they’re a hub for job listings and a resource for researching potential employers. A Millennial seeking a role in the plastics industry is likely to scrutinize company reviews, digging into details about company culture, staff sentiments, and benefits before deciding to apply. They appreciate transparency and use this information to evaluate the alignment between their values and potential employers.

Gen Z, the digital natives, cast an even wider net in their job search. In addition to more traditional job platforms, they explore opportunities on social media platforms like Instagram or TikTok. They are more likely to engage with organizations that showcase innovative manufacturing processes, sustainability initiatives, or a behind-the-scenes look at the workplace. These insights not only attract their interest but also contribute to a sense of connection with the potential employer.

Despite the heavy reliance on digital platforms, personal connections still matter to both generations. Hiring events, such as job fairs, particularly those targeting university students, can be an effective way to reach Gen Z. Employee referrals, where current employees suggest potential candidates, can also tap into the personal and professional networks of both Millennials and Gen Z, providing a trusted endorsement of your company.

Tips for reaching both generations effectively

  1. Strengthen your online presence: Ensure your company profiles across job search and social media platforms are comprehensive, up-to-date, and reflect your company’s values.
  2. Promote company culture: Use platforms to provide a sneak peek into your company culture. Real-time stories, employee testimonials, or day-in-life videos can make potential candidates feel a part of your organization even before they apply.
  3. Write clear and engaging job descriptions: Ambiguous or generic job descriptions can be a turn-off. Be clear about job responsibilities, required skills, and what it’s like to work at your company.
  4. Encourage employee referrals: Leverage the networks of your employees. Create an employee referral program that incentivizes employees to refer potential candidates.
  5. Participate in hiring events: Engage with potential candidates in person. Attend job fairs, especially those on college campuses, to connect with soon-to-be graduates.

Recognizing these nuanced differences in job search approaches can help recruiters in the plastics industry devise effective strategies to attract and connect with both Millennial and Gen Z talent.

Application Experience

The application process is the candidate’s first interaction with an organization’s recruitment workflow, and it often sets the tone for their entire experience. How do Millennials and Gen Z perceive and navigate this stage when applying for jobs in the plastics industry?

Millennials, who usually have more experience with job applications, heavily favor an efficient and user-friendly process. They value clearly laid out online forms that make it easy to submit pertinent information and documents, such as resumes or cover letters. Additionally, they appreciate timely updates about their application status. For example, when applying for a position at a plastics manufacturing company, a Millennial would likely expect the process to be straightforward: upload a resume, fill in some personal details, and answer a few role-relevant questions. Any complicating steps, such as an overly long form or unclear instructions, could deter them from completing the application.

Gen Z, with their digital upbringing, share many preferences with Millennials but with a few additional expectations. They’re likely to appreciate options to apply through various digital platforms, even social media. Furthermore, having grown up with smartphones, they prefer a mobile-optimized application process. For instance, if a plastics company allows candidates to upload a short video introduction via their mobile device instead of a traditional cover letter, this might appeal strongly to Gen Z applicants.

A notable similarity between the generations is their value of communication. Both Millennials and Gen Z seek clear guidelines about the application process, including timelines for response and next steps. Feedback is also a must, even if it’s to inform them they are not selected for an interview or chosen for the role.

Tips to enhance the application experience

  1. Simplify the application process: Keep your application form streamlined and user-friendly. Avoid unnecessary steps or overly complicated requirements.
  2. Offer diverse application options: Allow candidates to apply through various digital platforms, including LinkedIn or other professional networking sites.
  3. Ensure mobile compatibility: For tech-centric generations like Millennials and Gen Z, a mobile-friendly application process is both a bonus and an expectation.
  4. Leverage video applications: Consider incorporating video submissions in your application process, which can be particularly appealing to Gen Z candidates.
  5. Communicate efficiently: Be prompt and clear in your communication. Let applicants know what to expect in terms of timelines and next steps, providing feedback where possible.

By taking these considerations into account, you can provide an application experience that meets the expectations of both Millennials and Gen Z, enticing them to consider opportunities in the plastics industry.

Interview Process

For both Millennials and Gen Z, the interview process is a critical stage during recruitment. This is when they get a deeper sense of the company, the role, and the people they might be working with. Let’s explore how these generations approach interviews when considering roles in the plastics industry.

Millennials, with their wealth of experience in job hunting, have high expectations for the interview process. They look for clear communication about the interview format, whether it’s a phone screen, a video call or an in-person meeting. They want to know who they will be speaking with, what the scope of the discussion will be, and any specific preparation needed. Having this information not only allows them to prepare adequately but also signals that the company respects their time and effort. For instance, a Millennial applying for a technical role in a plastics factory would expect to discuss their previous experience, their technical proficiency, and how they could contribute to the company.

Gen Z, although they may be newer to the professional interview scenario, share some expectations with Millennials but can also bring their unique perspectives. Given their digital-savviness, they are comfortable with virtual interviews using platforms like Zoom or Skype, which have become more prevalent due to the pandemic. They also look for an engaging, conversational style of interviewing, where they can be themselves, express their ideas, and understand the company culture.

Both generations regard the interview as a two-way street. While the company is assessing the candidate, the candidate is equally assessing the company. They expect opportunities to ask their questions, better understand the role, company culture, and growth prospects. They may also inquire about specifics, such as environmental initiatives in the plastics industry, which are of significant interest to these social-conscious generations.

Tips to optimize the interview process

  1. Provide clear communication: Before the interview, provide candidates with all the necessary details regarding the format, participants, and preparation.
  2. Facilitate virtual interviews: Be equipped to conduct seamless virtual interviews, a format that Gen Z candidates could be particularly comfortable with.
  3. Foster a conversational atmosphere: Encourage open dialogue during the interview. Let candidates express their thoughts, ideas, and ask their questions.
  4. Showcase your company: Use the interview as an opportunity to highlight your company culture, values, and what makes you stand out as an employer in the plastics industry.

As recruiters, aim to create an engaging and positive interview experience, especially for both Millennials and Gen Z candidates.

Job Offer and Contract Signing

Receiving a job offer and signing a contract are important culminating steps that solidify the recruitment process. Here’s how Millennials and Gen Z handle this critical phase when securing roles in the plastics industry.

Millennials, having likely gone through the process a few times, anticipate a comprehensive job offer that outlines all the key aspects of their employment, including role responsibilities, remuneration, benefits, work schedule, and start date. They appreciate a thorough presentation of the contract terms, allowing them to make an informed decision. For instance, a Millennial offered a managerial role in a plastics company would expect detailed information about the scope of their responsibilities, team size, travel requirements, and career progression opportunities within the company.

Gen Z, despite being newer to the job market, similarly seeks full transparency and clarity at this stage. They would want the contract to spell out not only their wages or salary but also any performance-linked incentives, company policies, and growth paths. Being environmentally conscious, they may also look for information about the company’s sustainability practices. For example, a Gen Z candidate offered a role in a plastics recycling plant might look for information about the company’s environmental impact and waste reduction strategies.

A clear timeline for reviewing and signing the contract, and an opportunity to ask questions or seek clarifications are appreciated by both Millennials and Gen Z. They also look forward for welcoming and engaging communication from the company at this stage, which can make them feel valued and excited about their new role.

Tips for a smooth contract signing process

  1. Provide detailed job offers: Job offers should be comprehensive, providing detailed information about job responsibilities, compensation, benefits, and company policies.
  2. Set a clear timeline: Give candidates a reasonable amount of time to review the contract and make a decision.
  3. Encourage questions: Create a safe space where candidates feel comfortable asking questions or seeking clarifications about the contract.
  4. Offer a warm welcome: Keep your communication warm and supportive, sparking excitement in the candidate about the prospect of joining your team.

Taking the time to ensure a pleasing contract signing experience can not only secure your new recruit but also start your working relationship on a high note.


Ready to enhance your recruitment strategy? Let Plastic Executive Recruiters guide you, coach your team, or even do the thrilling job in attracting, engaging, and securing both Millennial and Gen Z talents for your plastics business. Contact us today, and together, let’s bring on board diverse talents who will enrich your company with their skills, perspectives, and commitment!

Ed Keil

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