What Do Candidates Want?

Figure 1: Reasons for Training

Figure 1: Reasons for Training

After years of uncertainty in the labor market, things seem better. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the first quarter of 2015 possessed more than five million job openings. To put this in context, the last time the US labor market approximated this level of openings was first quarter of 2001. So, as we enter this “better market” seeking to gain the best talent possible, what do potential candidates want?

According to the Towers Watson 2014 Global Workforce study, the most important factors for joining an organization rank as the following:

Base Pay/Salary
Job Security
Advancement Opportunities
Learning and Development Opportunities
Challenging Work
Reputation as a Good Employer
Vacation/Time Off

Clearly, compensation matters and serves as a core element to any offer for employment. Not only is more money one of the key ingredients for enticing a candidate to join a new organization, many desire to recoup their losses in income advancement form during the recession.

While job security is important to most of us, employers might assume that job security became a less critical element during the downturn as employees were socialized to a more unstable environment. The most recent generation to enter the workforce only knows uncertainty, while a significant percentage of current managers were promoted and led during this economic crisis and share a similar mindset. However, it is interesting to note that job security scored second only to compensation. Put simply, even among those that have not known stability, it matters. Forty-one (41) percent of those surveyed still considered job security as a key reason to join an organization.

Growth and development occupy the third grouping among responses. Most of us recognize that being part of a “learning organization” assists with attracting and retaining key talent. Capable employees want to not only be good at what they do, but also learn new things. A recent HCS survey (Growing Talent 2014) explored motivations for learning and found that developing more marketable skills held first place: 38 percent of respondents (see Figure 1). This is not surprising given the level of uncertainty in the market over the last seven years. Gaining more marketable skills not only improve external market possibilities, but internal ones as well. Similarly, opportunities for internal advancement encompassed the second most reoccurring category with 22 percent of respondents, while improving job performance accounted for 21 percent of responses. Assisting the team occupied the last option and garnered about 15 percent of responses.

Challenging work appeals to all of us. As a key predictor of engagement as well as satisfaction, the work needs to challenge as well as fulfill an employee. A fulfilled employees feels they have made a contribution to the organization, team, and customer.

Reputation continues to grow in importance as the Internet increases the availability of information about employers. Over the last few years, more than a few employees have launched discussion groups centered on what like as well as dislike about their employers. Employers have responded with alumni groups and other outreach to past employees. Clearly, this is an area that is going to grow in importance in the coming years.

Finally, time-off still matters. Although not a big predictor of retention, the availability of time off still matters when the employer is courting the candidate.

When considering your next offer, remember pay is not the only motivator.

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