Hiring Challenges: What Are Candidates Looking For?

By Kristen Harris

While finding and hiring the right person for your team can feel like a challenge, it’s really just a match-making process. You’re finding the right fit between what the person wants and needs, and what the company wants and needs. When there is enough alignment…viola!…you have a match.

Hiring might feel even harder right now because, over the last few years, people have been forced to completely change how they work. In doing so, they’ve overcome obstacles, found new passions and interests, identified their top skills, realized how valued those skills are in the market, and come to terms with how important certain things are (or aren’t) to their life.

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In this new environment, people have started asking for what they need.

And, yes, we’ve heard all the responses and uproar too…

“Candidates are asking for the moon!”

“It’s crazy, we can’t provide all the perks people want!”

“People are just being greedy!”

It’s not that candidates want “everything” to the point of being unreasonable. They just want what is going to work for them. If you can understand what that is, then it’s much easier to find the right fit for your company.

So what exactly DO they want? In our conversations with talent, candidates, and job seekers in the marketing industry and beyond, the following five items consistently come up.

  1. Transparency. People want to know what they’re signing up for, so tell them everything you can about the job. What skills, software, education, or training is required? Is the work location onsite, remote, or a hybrid? If hybrid, exactly how many days onsite and where? Expected work hours, and is that schedule flexible? Pay range, and how is that pay structured? How will success be measured? Also, be transparent about your hiring process; how many steps are there and how long do you expect it to take? How many interviews should they expect, will they have to take assessments, provide a work sample, pass a background check or drug screen, etc? Keep your hiring process as short and simple as possible. But, however long it is, generally, candidates are okay with it when they know what to expect upfront. What they don’t love are surprises (unless it’s a birthday cake).

  2. Responsiveness. We can’t say this enough…respond early and often! Move as quickly as you can, and give candidates frequent feedback and information. If they aren’t hearing from you, they’ll assume you’re not interested. They will move on to the other opportunities because all good candidates have multiple opportunities right now. This is not the tiem to play dating games. If you are interested, they need to know that! They also need to know what the next steps are and when they can expect a decision. Jobs are people’s livelihood; they can’t wait forever so you shouldn’t either.

  3. Growth Potential. Gone are the days of joining a company, staying for thirty years, and relying on that company to train you up into the next job and the next job after that. People are fully responsible for their own career growth, and they are aware of that. They will be curious about what growth potential the role has and what training, coaching, or development they should expect. They aren’t necessarily asking for promises of promotions, raises, or new titles. What they really want to know are what skills they’ll develop, how they’ll learn new areas of the business, or if there is formal training available or if it will be more self-directed. If they’re responsible for their own development, they want to know how this job will help them do that.

  4. Work-Life Integration. Every individual has both work and personal responsibilities, and they are constantly challenged to juggle both. Let’s be perfectly honest–after the last two years of mostly working from home, most people in desk-based jobs like marketing roles fully expect jobs to be remote, hybrid, or have some level of flexibility. This may or may not align with your company’s plans as far as returning to the office, but please know that other companies are providing flexibility. So, consider where you can provide flexibility while being realistic about what the job requires and what the company needs. If you understand exactly what the candidate is looking for, it’s likely you can find an arrangement that will work for both of you. And, if you can’t (back to #1) be transparent. Don’t waste their time or yours if you’ll never be able to make it work.

  5. Access. First, people want access to leadership and management of the company they work for. They want to hear from you and to have you tell them what it happening. Even if you don’t have all the answers; throughout COVID we learned that people appreciate being told what you do know, even if it’s not much. Second, they want access to be heard as well. Your employees have ideas and insights, and they want to be able to share them. People are emotionally invested in where they work and what their company does; they want to help solve problems, service customers, invent new products, and make the company better. Be accessible and listen to what they have to say.

When hiring, put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. If you can see things from their perspective, it’s much easier to find the right people and attract them to your team. Wondering what clients are looking for? We have a post about that too! And, if you need to hire and want to talk about finding the right candidates for your team, we’re here to help.