What do 21st century job candidates want from you?

Tony Wilmot discusses how to ensure you are doing everything you can to keep your best people, and attract new talent through the best job candidates.

Today, the onus appears to be very much on the job candidates to make the right impression, but with the skills gap biting, the ball is very much in their court. Can you really make your business work without the very best people and the hottest, youngest talent?

The recession meant many companies stopped investing in their staff. Training went by the wayside and some firms simply stopped hiring altogether, made people redundant who changed careers and lost the years of skills and knowledge they’d built up in their industry. This has come back to bite firms looking to grow. The paucity of talent now available means that jobseekers can afford to shop around for the best deal for them, and many companies are now offering defensive pay rises to ensure that they keep the very best people in their businesses.

However, there is also another dynamic at play. A cursory glance at today’s job market will tell you that the so-called ‘job for life’ is a thing of the past. The modern job market is much more flexible, and as people’s lives become busier they need an employer that can accommodate their needs. They may also be interested to know what the workplace culture is like at your company, and will want to know if they will be looked after.

How can you guarantee a satisfied, engaged workforce?

While not a new innovation by any means, flexi-time is becoming increasingly popular with employers as people juggle ever-more complex responsibilities. Where once alternative arrangements would have to be made for things like the school run or caring for elderly relatives, today, many employers will factor in a degree of flexibility to their employees’ contracts. If properly managed, this can benefit your business. A happy workforce equals a productive one, and showing that you care about your employees’ lives outside of the workplace can go a long way towards achieving this.

It’s also important to show that you are willing to invest time and effort in your employees’ development, even if they’re a temp. Some people baulk at the idea of appraisals, but they can serve the important purpose of making people feel part of a bigger picture, especially if there is an opportunity for the employee to provide feedback. The bottom line is, today’s job candidates want assurances that they will be listened to, and above all, cared for.

Workplace culture is equally important. In recent years we have seen many change the way their offices are physically arranged, what their workers wear and the ways in which they are permitted to interact with each other. For example, many companies place less emphasis on the importance of formal dress these days. Some directors will work in the same office space as their juniors, as opposed to being closeted away and inaccessible, and there is an increasing focus on bringing aspects of social life into the work environment. This really depends on the industry you operate in, of course, but that beer fridge in the kitchen or ‘break-out’ area in the office could end up being a very wise investment.

This blog only scrapes the surface of what modern job candidates want from an employer, but it’s nonetheless important to note that making cultural changes will make people want to work for your company.

When John Ruskin, the Victorian art critic, said: ‘When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece’ he had a very valid point. Can you truly look at your company and say you’re doing everything you can to not only keep your best people, but also attract new talent that will push your business to the next level? 

We see so many businesses who have an idea of who they want in their business, but very little in the way of ensuring that they appeal to those same people. In a world where the workforce is more transient than ever, standing still is not an option. The very best staff want to be wooed by their next employer, as well as tested.

Ask yourself this: do you have the very best image and infrastructure in place to ensure you not only know which jobseeker you’re looking for, but also the means to make sure you’re their first choice when they receive your job offer?

Tony Wilmot is co-founder of staffbay.com.

Further reading on job candidates and managing staff

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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