Despite a possible economic slowdown, global unemployment rates remain low and employers still feel the impact of the Great Resignation. It’s not easy to win over top talent, especially in high-demand fields. Furthermore, most job candidates are aware of their attractiveness to employers, as 74% of employees around the world are approached multiple times per year about new job opportunities—and 39% of those are approached every month.
In addition, 68% of job seekers feel that they are in a strong negotiating position when looking for a job, and 69% of candidates expect prospective employers to demonstrate some openness to negotiating conditions after making an initial offer. Only 14% feel that employers hold the reins in job offer negotiations. Confidence is highest among those who work in finance, business, and sales and lowest among manual workers, nonprofit workers, and volunteers.
These are among the findings of a new study released today by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Network, a global alliance of recruitment websites. Titled “What Job Seekers Wish Employers Knew,” the study is based on a survey of 90,547 respondents from 160 countries—the world’s largest survey dedicated to exploring job seekers’ recruitment preferences.
The survey reveals that the most coveted candidates are those working in IT, digital, and sales jobs, followed closely by those in hospitality, and transport and logistics. Scientists and teachers receive the fewest offers, likely because of the nondynamic nature of these fields, where tenure and long-term government contracts are common.
“Candidates currently in IT, digital, and other tech fields are what we’re calling ‘sexy and they know it’— they are frequently approached with job opportunities and therefore believe that they have strong negotiating power,” said Orsolya Kovacs-Ondrejkovic, an associate director at BCG and a coauthor of the study. “Employers need to be aware of where candidates are coming from and should adjust their negotiation technique accordingly. With digital superstars, they may not get a second chance, so it’s best to start with a strong first offer. With other segments, employers may have more space for discussion. But one thing that seems sure is candidates are less and less likely to simply accept an offer without asking for more.”
What Candidates Want
Most respondents (69%) to the survey said that they desire, above all, a stable job with a good work-life balance. This preference is dominant across job roles, regions, and age groups. Career progress at a good company comes second (41%), and working on exciting products, topics, and technologies is third (27%). Hybrid work is still popular, with 54% of respondents favoring that model—but that result represents an unexpected decline in preference from BCG’s autumn 2020 survey, in which 65% of respondents said they wanted a hybrid model that included two to four days of remote work per week.
People may dream of a steady job with a good work-life balance for the long term, but across regions, candidates who are weighing a concrete job offer usually make the financial package their highest priority, and they identify inadequate salaries and bonuses as the biggest deal breakers (21%). Work-life balance (in accordance with people’s long-term vision) ranks second (19%), and job security third (15%).
The survey also looked at respondents by age group. Compensation and work-life balance are generally the two top priorities regardless of cohort, but deal breakers change significantly with age:
- Members of the youngest generation of workers care deeply about opportunities for learning and development
- Workers who are 30 to 50 years old prioritize job security and flexible work arrangements
- Among respondents age 60 or older, appreciation for their work and doing impactful work rank relatively high
The survey’s findings include the revelation that some myths about recruiting are just that—myths. For instance, 52% of respondents would refuse an otherwise attractive job offer if they had a strong negative experience during the recruitment process, and 66% said that a smooth, timely process is the number one way for an employer to stand out during recruitment. Both of these results debunk the myth that if the offer is attractive, the recruitment process doesn’t matter.
Additionally, 75% of jobseekers still want to work the traditional five-day workweek, proving false the notion that traditional day jobs are increasingly becoming obsolete, to be replaced by part-time solutions, gigs, and side projects. And while the digital HR market is booming, less than 25% of candidates feel comfortable with AI-led interviews or preparing an introduction video of themselves, and most respondents—even those in digital fields or from younger generations—still prefer in-person application and selection channels.
What Employers Can Do
In the authors’ experience, employers can take a number of effective steps to maximize their attractiveness to desirable job candidates. The study provides in-depth details around six key actions to consider when recruiting:
- Segment your approach to appeal to different target personas.
- Reimagine recruitment as a personal journey.
- Overcome your biases to increase your talent pool.
- Wield digital tools impactfully but selectively.
- Get culture fundamentals right.
- Re-recruit your internal talent.
“Choosing a job is one of the most important personal decisions one can make, with heavy implications on one’s life. Therefore, employers can’t look at recruitment as just another corporate process. Recruitment should be about providing a positive and inspiring experience, and making a genuine human connection with the candidate,” said Kate Kavanagh, co-managing director of The Network, and a coauthor of the study.
Download the study here: https://www.bcg.com/publications/2023/recruitment-recommendations-for-employers