Culture is a Key Factor for Job Seekers and Talent Recruiters

Culture is a Key Factor for Job Seekers and Talent Recruiters

What do prospective employees look for in a new company? When do firms and their recruiters miss the boat? And how can firms attract and retain top talent in the midst of business disruption like a pandemic?

What Matters Most to Job Seekers

Hinge Research Institute recently completed a study among professional services firms to explore perceptions about what matters most to job seekers. We gathered perspective from job seekers at various career stages and also from talent evaluators, to learn about whether – and how – expectations of each group align. Over 1,000 professionals responded to our survey for the 2020 Employer Branding Study, from firms across the spectrum of professional service businesses.

As you might expect, a competitive salary and benefits package ranks high for job seekers at every career level. 57% of all respondents rated compensation as their top selection factor. It might come as a surprise, however, to learn that perceptions about company culture and value – and whether the candidate sees a good fit – rank equally high.

Amidst the uncertainty of today’s economy, the story line is clear – a strong company culture represents a bedrock for both candidates and managers in search of top talent. In fact, for 75% of talent recruiters, gaining confidence about a good cultural fit was more important than a candidate’s work history and experience.  

Priorities Vary by Career Stage

How do other priorities vary among job seekers at different levels in their careers?

Entry-level job seekers look for messages about a company’s commitment to their growth and advancement. They tend to shy away from the risk and cost of a major relocation, and their first avenue to explore job opportunities is via the firm’s web site. Smart companies that rely on a steady flow of new grads will have a section dedicated to this demographic on their “Careers” tab, and will actively market into area colleges and universities.

What mid-career candidates value most (after compensation) is responsibility, an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution, and a degree of assurance they won’t be spread too thin. These candidates often funnel through a recruiter or staffing firm and look for signals about desirable work/life balance, and assignments to develop leadership and collaborate with top management.

Senior-level candidates are attracted to organizations that present a clear vision for the future. These people value strong leadership and high-caliber colleagues, and expect to operate independently – nearly one in three respondents in this group prioritize working remotely.

The Impact of Disruptions

Predictably, merger activity can spell trouble for retention. When companies lack a formal integration plan, fail to identify who’s in charge of the integration – and communicate about the whole process poorly – they run a high risk of dissatisfied employees who are ripe to pursue other opportunities.

What can we broadly conclude from these findings? For an employee who might be looking around, a prospective employer’s brand – and what it says about the firm’s culture – is worthy of your attention. You want to know what’s in the water before you wade in … and similarly, the hiring manager will be looking for assurance that you understand their context and are likely to adapt successfully and fit in.

Even Passive Job Seekers Are Flight Risks

The employer brand is particularly important to the passive job seeker – someone who’s really not looking for a new position, but could be spurred into action for the right opportunity, at the right organization. Statistics indicate that at any given time, there might be twice as many passive job seekers as there are active ones, and they are often attractive candidates.

This group actually ranks culture as more important than salary, so the most compelling employer brands will express what’s great about the firm culture, and capture a sense of the type of people who will thrive working there. It’s worth noting that a compelling employer brand also supports retention of current employees.

In today’s rapidly shifting economy, there’s an extra element of risk to any job change. No matter what your career stage, taking time to learn the signals about a prospective employer’s brand and culture can help you avoid the risk of making the wrong move.

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  • August 15, 2020