Career Confessions from Gen Z: 20 Ways to Work Better with Gen Z!

Tuesday is one of my favorite days of the year: my birthday! Ever since I was little, I had trouble falling asleep the night before my birthday because I was so excited, and I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it isn’t any different this year. This year is a pretty big transition as I move on from my teenagers year and enter my third decade on this planet.

Pretty cool, pretty terrifying.

So, in honor of my 20 years, I compiled a list of 20 tips and tricks in order to work best with your Gen Z friends, employees, co-workers, nieces/nephews, or whoever else.

  1. Try to limit/reduce your questions about our days/events etc. to as few as possible, especially early in the morning or late at night.
  2. Talk to us as little as possible in the morning.
  3. Be encouraging.
  4. Call us on the phone instead of having us call you. (Recruiters – are you hearing this!?)
  5. Try to accommodate our insomnia by allowing later wake-up times/work times.
  6. Provide caffeine – for free! (good general rule for all people)
  7. Be open to any ideas, no matter how wacky they may be.
  8. Provide non-traditional spaces to get work done.
  9. Be patient.
  10. Bring food whenever a really hard/annoying task comes up that needs to be done.
  11. Don’t be afraid to push us.
  12. Provide guidance without completing the job for them.
  13. When we have headphones on, it most likely means that we are focused/don’t want to be talked to.
  14. Encourage activities that limit our constant phone use.
  15. Give us space.
  16. Acknowledge a job well done, but criticize when necessary.
  17. Don’t stalk their social media profiles (at least not all the time 🙂
  18. Embrace the youthful spirit as much as possible.
  19. Try to give as much detail because although we may have questions, we’re probably too stubborn/scared to ask them.
  20. If you just can’t with the hormone filled moments of rage, step away, roll your eyes, and try to move on. Chances are that’s exactly how’d we react too.

Young people are weird. But, we all were young and weird once. So, try and take that weird and turn it into something awesome.

That’s what I’m going to try and do in this new chapter.  Here’s to the next 20.


This post was written by Cameron Sackett (not Tim) – you can probably tell because it lacks grammatical errors!

HR and TA Pros – have a question you would like to ask directly to a Gen Z? Ask us in the comments and I’ll respond in an upcoming blog post right here on the project. Have some feedback for me? Again, please share in the comments and/or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Career Confessions of Gen Z: On Instagram, It’s not about likes, It’s about engagement

If you know me, you know I really like social media. I’m a big fan of almost all platforms, but I definitely have my favorites. I like Snapchat for communicating, Twitter for entertainment, and Instagram to maintain an active profile. Everyone seems to have one or two platforms that they excel at, and Instagram is mine. My family always laughs when I ask them to get “candid” pictures for me in front of scenic backgrounds or cool landscapes, but I know what’s going to get the likes!

Last week, my Dad and I were talking about what the best follower to like ratio on Instagram is and it got me thinking. I know that a good ratio for me is on my personal account (about 30%), but it sparked my curiosity. Should accounts with tens of thousands of followers have a lower ratio of likes than accounts with only a few thousand? Should personal accounts have higher ratios than brand accounts? What is a “good ratio”? I conducted some research of my own to answer these questions.

I wanted to start out by looking at the difference between personal and brand accounts. The top 2 followed people on Instagram are Selena Gomez (140 million followers) and Cristiano Ronaldo (139 million followers). I looked at their last 10 posts and calculated that between 4-5% of their followers like each post.

Account Average Likes Average Ratio
Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) 5.65 million 4%
Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano) 6.43 million 4.6%

Next, I compared these to the top followed brand accounts. The top followed brands are National Geographic (90 million) and Nike (79 million). The ratios for these top followed brands was pretty significantly less than the most followed people, at .4% and 1.3%.

Account Average Likes Average Ratio
National Geographic (@natgeo) 374 thousand .4%
Nike (@nike) 1.06 million 1.3%

Now, most accounts aren’t going to have the millions of followers that these do, so I wanted to compare people and brands with more normal amounts. So, I compared my account to my favorite ice cream shop, Blake Slate Creamery.

Account Average Likes Average Ratio
Cameron Sackett (@cameronsackett) 419.6 27%
Blank Slate Creamery (@blankslatecreamery) 132.4 7.7%

This difference in ratios isn’t surprising to me. Instagram posts with faces get 38% more likes than posts without. Personal accounts are naturally going to have more posts with faces because people are going to show themselves on their accounts! Brands want to show their products/services and that can’t always involve an attractive person’s face.

To increase your engagement, it’s important to try and learn from these personal accounts. You want to post as many pictures/videos with people as the prominent focus. Selfies get the likes! But make it a good one, not some double chin mess 🙂


This post was written by Cameron Sackett (not Tim) – you can probably tell because it lacks grammatical errors!

HR and TA Pros – have a question you would like to ask directly to a Gen Z? Ask us in the comments and I’ll respond in an upcoming blog post right here on the project. Have some feedback for me? Again, please share in the comments and/or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Career Confessions from Gen Z: Is Work-Life Balance a Right?

One of the scariest things that I had to go through recently was deciding to give up competitive swimming. I have been racing in the pool for the majority of my life, but I knew in March 2017 that it was time to step away from the sport that I love so much. For a while after, I felt lost; what am I supposed to fill my time and put my energy into now that I am done swimming?

This is something that many high school graduates, soon to be college students and full-time employees have to go through. Many of us have been involved in activities like sports, art, or music for most of our lives, and we’re now expected to willingly step away from the things that we love to do and work our lives away. It doesn’t seem fair and often leads to a loss of identity for a lot of people. I know I had no idea what to do without swimming.

It’s a sick thing that our society expects adults to dedicate their lives to their jobs. Growing up, I remember hearing adults making fun of their peers that did things like slow-pitch softball or an organized basketball league. They would say that they’re not dedicated enough to their careers or that they needed to spend more time with their kids.

This has bothered me for a long time. I don’t want to have to give up what I love to do just because I have a job and a family! I hope that I can find a job that allows me to do something that I love, but I don’t think that my job will ever involve racing in a pool. We shouldn’t expect young people to completely give up things that they love to do once they have to provide for themselves. I want to help foster an environment where it’s not only okay to take an hour of each day to go do something for yourself, but it’s encouraged.

This is something that is so important to me in a future employer. I want to work for a company that encourages me to have a work-life balance and doesn’t pressure me to spend my life in the office.

If you had more time to have fun and do something that you love, what would you do?


This post was written by Cameron Sackett (not Tim) – you can probably tell because it lacks grammatical errors!

HR and TA Pros – have a question you would like to ask directly to a Gen Z? Ask us in the comments and I’ll respond in an upcoming blog post right here on the project. Have some feedback for me? Again, please share in the comments and/or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Career Confessions from Gen Z: Celebrate Success, But Don’t Stop Moving Forward!

At a pretty young age, I discovered I wasn’t very good at most sports. I tried the normal ones: baseball, soccer, basketball, but I didn’t really seem to find any hand-eye coordination, running ability, or a general sense of how to be good at sports. In third grade, I asked my Mom to try out for the local swim team because some of my friends were on it and she was reluctant to say yes. I hadn’t necessarily excelled at swim lessons growing up and she thought that I would be bored just doing laps over and over.

Through her reluctance, she let me try out, but I didn’t make it because my backstroke wasn’t up to par. They recommended that I take a few private lessons and then I could try out again and start on the team. My parents got me a few private lessons, and about a month later, I tried out and made the swim team.

Fast forward, 10 years later and I am finishing my swim career on an NCAA Division 1 varsity swim team, scoring for my team in guess what stroke, backstroke. Never could anyone have predicted that I would go on to improve and have the success in the sport that I did. Now, I wasn’t some swimming prodigy, and it took a lot of hard work to get to where I was, but not everyone goes on to be a collegiate athlete!

Almost every day (especially on Facebook), we see these stories of extraordinary people excelling under incredible circumstances. We hear and see stories like of Michael Oher (watch The Blind Side if you somehow avoided Sandra Bullock’s amazingness), where people go from nothing to the best in their field. While we all love a great underdog story, it’s hard to relate to these improbable situations. There’s a pretty big chance that not many of the people reading this blog post are undiscovered football stars or musical geniuses, and although we may love watching these stories, it’s a struggle to relate.

That’s why we need to find these success stories in our own lives. I didn’t go on to play in the NFL or win an Olympic medal, but I went from not making the swim team at 8 years old, to competing in the NCAA. If I had just given up and tried a new sport, the course of my life would have been completely altered.

With the prevalence of the media, we see these extraordinary stories all the time. The media loves to sell these almost impossible moments to us because we can’t look away! This isn’t going to change. The news isn’t all of a sudden going to start talking about my slightly above average swimming career just so we can celebrate something more normal!

My advice for my fellow Gen-Zer’s is to look for these moments of success in your life. Celebrate them. And then keep moving forward for another moment of success. The reason I had a slightly above average swimming career was that I always wanted more, but I never let myself get burnt out. I would go get pizza to celebrate after a good meet, but I’d be right back in the pool working hard on Monday.

Next time you do something pretty freaking cool, pat yourself on the back, get a treat, and then get your butt working again the next day.


This post was written by Cameron Sackett (not Tim) – you can probably tell because it lacks grammatical errors!

HR and TA Pros – have a question you would like to ask directly to a Gen Z? Ask us in the comments and I’ll respond in an upcoming blog post right here on the project. Have some feedback for me? Again, please share in the comments and/or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Career Confessions from Gen Z – I’m Probably Going to do Stuff Differently, but That’s Okay…

Ever since I was 8, I have been on a swim team. I quickly learned that swimming was the only sport I really excelled at and I ran with it all the way until I was 18. Luckily, I was blessed to be coached by some really great people that helped me swim faster while also teaching me about hard work and perseverance.

One common theme amongst my coaches was that they were all young. This tended to be coupled with a newer style of training that was more tailored to shorter intervals. Many of my swim friends had different coaches that coached in a more traditional way that involved a lot of non-stop distance swimming. While they are two completely different styles of training, we often got similar accomplishments.

Something that I’ve been exposed to during my time working, is different ways to get the same thing done. Every person is super different, and that means that we probably process information in different ways and complete tasks differently. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. No two humans’ brains are hard-wired the same way and so, no two humans are going to think exactly the same!

This especially goes for people of different generations. Again, there’s nothing with this! Generations grow up differently, with different technologies, ideas, and practices.

One of the things that I bicker most about with my parents are these differences in getting things done. My parents LOVE to tell me “just call them!” whenever I have to solve a problem that will require assistance from someone else. Personally, I really dislike calling people and I know for a fact that the majority of Gen-Zer’s would say the exact same. I don’t see calling going away anytime soon, but there is a very apparent rise in mediums that are replacing calling, that you can use to solve the same problems!

I would much rather prefer ordering my pizza online, but my Mom might prefer to order pizza over the phone. That’s okay! We are getting the same thing done, just in a different way.

In my experience, I tend to find that leaders in business may preach that they are open to new ideas, but they still think their way is the best way. That’s normal! Everyone always thinks that their way is going to be the best way because it makes sense to YOU. It’s important to realize that the way that makes sense for you to complete a project may make perfect sense for your 48-year-old brain (Gen-X, I’m looking at you), but that might not make sense to my 19-year-old brain.

The majority of the time, the leader’s way probably is the best. They definitely have more experience and they know what is the most efficient way to get things done. A lot of people are good at taking criticism or recommendations from people that are at the same level as them, but they aren’t so good at taking it from say, an intern like me.

We were all young once and we get that youngins’ are impulsive and stupid. But amongst all that mess, there can sometimes be a little nugget of genius and you find that nugget, let that nugget grow, and then let that nugget shine!


This post was written by Cameron Sackett (not Tim) – you can probably tell because it lacks grammatical errors!

HR and TA Pros – have a question you would like to ask directly to a Gen Z? Ask us in the comments and I’ll respond in an upcoming blog post right here on the project. Have some feedback for me? Again, please share in the comments and/or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Career Confessions from Gen Z: The 4 Essentials Every Office Should Have!

Ever since I was little, I’ve been pretty particular about the spaces that I live in. For my 12th birthday, my parents took me to Ikea and Target and let me “re-do my room” with a New York theme. I can also vividly remember the time when my Mom and I went to tour a college in Upstate New York and we almost left the hotel because we were worried about bed bugs. This particularness caused a lot of stress before going off to college about having to share a room with another teenage boy (a personal nightmare for me).

As I am entering the workforce, I know that this will carry over into the office that I work in. On average, a person will spend about ⅓ of their life at work. That’s longer than most of us will spend at any house we will ever live in! Since I’ve started interning, I’ve noticed some things that have made a big impact on my happiness and productivity at work:

1. Drink Machines: I am drinking water CONSTANTLY and I know that almost everyone sitting around me has a water bottle or cup at their desk. Having a water machine, like a Brita filter attachment or a Bevi machine, is more important to me than having elaborate coffee makers or nice vending machines. (editor’s note – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – I’m a life-long advocate for a Diet Mt. Dew soda fountain in the office!) 

2. No Cubicles: I didn’t anticipate this making such a difference, but I now do not want to work in a cubicle. At Quicken Loans (where I’m interning!), we have little half walls that make rows and columns, but they are short enough to see and talk to the people around you. This creates a much more open environment so I can ask questions without getting up or I can eavesdrop on other people’s conversations!

3. Bathrooms: Read my last post for more of my feelings about bathrooms at work but basically, just make them nice.

4. Updated Decor: I get that office decor is difficult. You’re never going to please everyone’s tastes, it’s expensive etc. BUT you could at least put in a little bit of effort to put some decor on your walls that is from this century. A good rule of thumb: if your decor is older than some of your employees, you probably should get rid of it! There’s nothing sadder to me than being surrounded by gray all the time. Liven it up a little!

Now, I could go on for a while about what else I look for in an office, but these are just the basics. Just put a little effort to meet your employee’s requests, and you’ll probably be on the right track!

Another Editor’s Note (because apparently, I don’t have my own platform to say anything I want): I’ve been telling HR leaders this for a couple of years now. With Gen Z – Design matters! It matters in your employment brand, it matters in your personal workspaces, it matters for younger generations. Perception of working in a great place is influenced by design. Don’t discount it! 


 

This post was written by Cameron Sackett (not Tim) – you can probably tell because it lacks grammatical errors!

HR and TA Pros – have a question you would like to ask directly to a Gen Z? Ask us in the comments and I’ll respond in an upcoming blog post right here on the project. Have some feedback for me? Again, please share in the comments and/or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Career Confessions of Gen-Z: Diversity of Experience Is Truly Valuable

Growing up, I was not exposed to the most diverse community. I love my little Michigan town, but it’s pretty white. My parents tried to help me experience diversity growing up; they let me go to Japan for an exchange program in 8th grade and let me go off to college in New York. It wasn’t until these experiences that I was truly exposed to communities that were vastly different than my own.

Recently, I got the chance to attend a Diversity and Inclusion Event at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit through my internship at Quicken Loans. While there, I watched 2 different panels of QL employees speaking on the importance of diversity and inclusion within QL and the workplace.

One thing that really stuck with me from this event was when one of the panelists said: “We don’t hire people to check off boxes”. All of the panelists discussed how the diversity of experience was essential for diversity and inclusion to thrive. This really caused a shift in mindset for me.

Growing up, I thought that being diverse was simply the inclusion of people from all different backgrounds and communities. While that is a huge part of diversity, being of a diverse background is only one part of having diverse experiences.

I get that I’m not a minority. I’m a white male that is from a middle-class family in the MidWest. We’re a dime a dozen out here. But this helped me see that just because I’m not of a minority ethnicity or gender or some other quality doesn’t mean that I’m not diverse. Creating a background of diverse experiences is how someone like me can become more inclusive.

I believe that it is essential that we instill these values and this knowledge of diversity in Gen-Z. We are in a world that is more diverse than ever before. We need to create an environment where going out and having diverse experiences is celebrated and isn’t feared. It is vital that our educators and leaders are instilling a celebration and appreciation of diversity in their students and employees.

I’ve always known that diversity is important. But now I understand why. Bringing people together of different backgrounds and with different experiences is where you get s*** done and you get it done well. And that’s pretty freaking cool.


 

This post was written by Cameron Sackett (not Tim) – you can probably tell because it lacks grammatical errors!

HR and TA Pros – have a question you would like to ask directly to a Gen Z? Ask us in the comments and I’ll respond in an upcoming blog post right here on the project. Have some feedback for me? Again, please share in the comments and/or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Career Confessions from Gen Z: How Painful is Your Onboarding?

One of the most painfully awkward experiences of my life was my college orientation. I remember being so excited to go; this is the start of a whole new journey where you’re supposed to meet all of your lifelong friends and become a whole new person! I failed to remember that forcing a group of 17 and 18-year-olds to try and become friends in an 8-hour time span probably won’t work that well. Not only did I have to suffer through one college orientation, I had to do ANOTHER one when I decided to transfer to my current school. College orientations are absolutely necessary but absolutely agonizing.

Since I detest college orientations, I am not looking forward to the lifetime of onboarding processes that I will have to endure. The average person will hold 12-15 jobs in their lifetime, and Gen-Z’ers will definitely raise that number significantly. I’m already on my 5th job and I’m 19! While I may need to accept the fact that I have many onboardings ahead of me, here is what I suggest to make them as painless as possible for everyone involved:

  1. Short and Sweet: The general rule for all onboardings should be the shorter, the better. Just because you have a full day set aside, doesn’t mean you need to use the whole thing! Many people hold the same resentment to onboardings and orientation as me and will immediately forget approximately 97% of the information given at these sessions. So, instead of spending more time droning on, have your employees get started and let them figure things out as they come!
  2. Specificity is key: I get that there’s a lot of general information that needs to be relayed to your employees, but the more specific you can be with every person’s individual needs, the better. Not only is it more efficient because it is straight to the point, but it will force your onboardie’s to pay attention because the information directly applies to them!
  3. Food, food, and more food: If you are going to make your new employees sit through a full day of onboarding, there better be food. And not just some crappy sandwich platter. Food is essential in keeping your new employees awake and alert. Also, coffee, soda, or other refreshments should be widely available as well.
  4. Cut Out the Fluff: While preparing onboarding procedures, do your best to cut out all non-essential information. We don’t need an hour presentation on your company’s culture. Let us live and learn by experiencing it ourselves!

The goal of an onboarding process should be to make everything as clear as possible to your newbies. You don’t need to get us excited about working or pump us up: odds are that us Gen-Zer’s are already excited because it’s our first real job! I just started my internship this week and I didn’t need the constant pump-up music and overdone cheering and applause (for literally everyone and everything); I’m already excited to start! So, stuff us with junk food, coffee, and essential information and then send us on our way to get started!


This post was written by Cameron Sackett (not Tim) – you can probably tell because it lacks grammatical errors!

HR and TA Pros – have a question you would like to ask directly to a Gen Z? Ask us in the comments and I’ll respond in an upcoming blog post right here on the project. Have some feedback for me? Again, please share in the comments and/or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Career Confessions from Gen-Z: Go Spend Some Time Abroad!

Your favorite Gen-Z blogger has returned to the States! After a tumultuous day of traveling (I won’t bore you with the details), I returned on Tuesday night from my 6 week study abroad trip to Spain. My trip to Spain was the best timesof my life filled with so many cool new experiences all over the country, including a lot of new foods, shopping, and SO MUCH GELATO.

Ever since I started college, I knew that studying abroad was something that I definitely wanted to do. I didn’t necessarily know where I wanted to go, but I knew that I needed to go. Gotta travel while you’re young! Everyone always says that studying abroad will give you a whole new perspective to how you see the world, and I always thought that they were just being a little dramatic. Now, I have to agree with them and I have a new outlook.

Here in the United States, we tend to isolate ourselves. I’m not trying to make a political commentary, I understand it; the US is huge and we’re pretty far from the vast majority of other countries in the world. But by doing this, we are casting a portrayal of uncertainty to other cultures. We tend to know very little about other places and their people, especially if we have no personal attachment to that place.

By going abroad and communicating with people from a different culture, I was able to see that they’re not all that different from us. I was able to connect with these people that live thousands of miles away from me and form a bond with them. They may live their lives so differently (I mean, who likes eating dinner at 10), but we’re all out here just trying to live our lives as best as we can.

This trip has taught me that it is absolutely essential to expose yourself to different cultures, especially at a young age. Traveling is expensive and it can seem impossible for some people to spend time abroad, but I believe that exposing yourself to new cultures can teach you so much more than many classes can. It is rare that you will only ever interact with people from your culture, especially in the melting pot that is the USA. By having experience communicating and connecting with others from around the world, it will be easier to work with and relate to these people that you may interact with in your jobs, school, or wherever else.

I have learned so many lessons from Spain, but most importantly I have gained an appreciation for the world. There is so much amazing stuff out there that we don’t get to see and we may never get to see! It’s important that we encourage everyone to go out and have cool experiences all over the world. By fostering a global appreciation of other cultures, we could solve a ton of problems. So, @myparents, please start taking me on you vacations!

Also, I will be starting my first internship and full time job on Monday! If you have any advice for me or things that you’d like to hear about in upcoming blog posts, leave a comment!

Career Confessions from Gen-Z: My Dad is the Greatest!

I bet you didn’t expect a post from me on a Monday! Well here I am, with an extra post just to celebrate the creator of the Tim Sackett Project, the “foremost expert on workplace hugging”, HR microcelebrity, or otherwise known was my father. Many of you know my Dad from his witty blog posts or his presentations at HR conferences. While my Dad may be a fantastic writer and public speaker, he has a lot of cool, sometimes very strange, and special qualities/talents that I thought I would share!

  1. No one can make a better Valentine’s Day box. My brothers and I would have the coolest boxes every year growing up
  2. He is an expert griller and lawn mower#justdadthings
  3. He is really good at deciphering baseball signs and play calling signals from other teams’ coaches
  4. He can coach just about any sport and will make sure every kid not only improves, but has a super fun time
  5. He is one of the single most caring people in the world. He will go to the end of the Earth to help any person that he cares about
  6. He is really good at finding cool shoes, jackets etc, sending them to me, and then buying them for himself
  7. He can yell louder than most people at the referees at MSU basketball/football games
  8. He can give real and helpful advice for any situation. I wouldn’t have been able to make some extremely hard decisions these past years if it weren’t for his support
  9. He is able to come up with a wildly inappropriate joke/slogan/title for any possible situation
  10. He is the most hard working person in the world. You think you’re hustling, but my Dad is probably hustling harder!
  11. He can find a nickname for any single person
  12. He is an expert dog walker and can speak dog talk like no other
  13. He can find his way anywhere. I swear he has a GPS system in his brain. You could drop him in the middle of any city, and he’d find his way
  14. He is able to find the light and positivity in any situation. There are very few days where I haven’t seen my Dad smiling and laughing
  15. He is the most loving person I know. He loves a lot and unconditionally

As many of you know, my Dad is the greatest. He can write, run a successful business, make a pretty great family (in my opinion), basically he can do it all! There is nothing that I could do to ever repay him for all that he’s done for me, but I thought that I would just make his try and display amazingness for others to appreciate. Happy Father’s Day Dad! I love you so much.

-Cam