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Recruiting and Focusing in on Candidate Motivation

One of the key factors in successfully recruiting top-level talent lies in the ability to consider and understand the motivation behind one’s desire to look for a new job. It becomes even more important in today’s market because not all candidates are actively searching. Homing in on what is important to candidates goes beyond the traditional focus on compensation packages and benefits. It requires a much deeper conversation and the ability to actively listen and gain as much information as possible.

Reasons and circumstances can be very individual however there tend to be several general, top motivators which nearly all candidates identify with when considering a new career opportunity. Often candidates are not even outwardly aware of the root driving force behind them but realize there is underlying discontent in their current situation. Otherwise the door to new opportunity would remain closed. The difference between a highly skilled recruiting professional comes in the ability to be able to speak candidly with candidates and together discover and address these issues.
After years of talking to candidates, there seem to be 6 top reasons that always arise in conversations. Keeping in mind they rarely stand alone and most often are a combination along with other individual factors.

1. Overall Financial Goals: This one is no surprise and will likely remain top of the list indefinitely as it has throughout history. This includes not only compensation, but all perks and benefits. It is clear that in today’s culture, employers are having to up the ante to retain good talent. And candidates are aware that the job market is tight, and they have options to go elsewhere. The grass IS greener on the other side in many cases. Higher salaries do drive motivation and that cannot be ignored.

2. Personal/ Professional Development: Having a satisfying career generally entails being able to grow and evolve professionally. Being challenged within a role and learning new things is intrinsically important. Remaining stagnant and under challenged in a role will drive many individuals to seek other opportunities. Going through the motions day in and day out leads to boredom, frustration and even a decrease in self-worth.

3. Location: Often candidates will consider changing jobs simply for the fact that the new opportunity is in a better suited location. “In the U.S., the average, one-way commute time is 26.1 minutes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. If you commute to a full-time, 5-day-a-week job, roundtrip that adds up to 4.35 hours a week and over 200 hours (nearly nine days) per year.” Most metropolitan areas are easily double that length. Over the course of a career, it is no wonder why people will seek out a job in effort to decrease commute time.

4. Job Security: Feeling secure or stable within an organization is not always easy. For example, emerging technologies and the increase in technical requirements to successfully do one’s job can lead to a feeling of insecurity. Mergers and acquisitions are another prime example of organizational change that can lead many to worry about their job security. Time after time, this reason is close to the top in terms of motivating candidates to consider new opportunities.

5. Career Progression: “I feel stuck. “OR, “There’s no room for growth in my current company.” This sentiment echoes daily in the recruiting industry. Many flat organizations simply do not have the structure to allow for career progression. Eventually, top-level talent may become frustrated by not having the ability to advance. This rings especially true in the candidate-driven market as they are aware of better opportunities. In addition to this, many Millennials desire a clear outline to show career progression (also referred to as “career pathing”). This has become more of a standard practice for many organizations and candidates will in fact turn down opportunities if it is not offered.

6. Culture: Nothing can lead to overall unhappiness at work faster than a poor company culture. Co-workers, team members and management can ultimately drive retention or drive employees out the door. Spending 40-50 hours per week with people you do not mesh with is more than challenging. Candidates are becoming hyper aware of this and as such this has become a very important recruiting conversation. In a 2017 survey of 2,000 employees, almost half (43%) said they are looking for a new job, and corporate culture was the main reason. And that number continues to rise.

As a professional recruiter, it is more important that ever in today’s employment market to truly understand a candidates’ motivation behind considering a new role. And although individual reasons and circumstances will always vary, knowing that there are a few key motivators can guide the conversation in the right direction. Having upfront, clear communication surrounding the candidate’s values and goals, is paramount in being able to identify “the right” person for the job, ultimately leading to higher retention rates and greater organizational success.