What Matters Most to Today’s Well-Informed Workers

Job candidates have tremendous access to employer information today, and that's altered the way people find and consider new work opportunities. Here's a look at how the search process is changing for everyone.

May 18, 2017 – Historically, the balance of power between employers and candidates has favored employers. Candidates had few sources of information about open positions, corporate culture or company vision, let alone compensation and benefits.

But the talent market is changing. Big time. Candidates today report a dramatic increase in the amount of information they have about a company and a position at significantly earlier stages of the job search process. In the last year alone, in fact, candidates report noteworthy increases in the amount and types of information they have prior to starting the application process.

To better understand how employers can leverage candidate preferences and perceptions, ManpowerGroup Solutions went directly to the source — candidates. In a recent global candidate preferences survey the company undertook, respondents worldwide reported a significant increase in the amount of information they have about compensation, benefits, company mission, vision, culture, brand and corporate social responsibility.

“Candidates have more power than ever before because they have more information, thus they make more informed decisions,” said Nikki Grech, executive director, ManpowerGroup Solutions, Australia. “Companies have to be smarter in where they look for candidates.” She said this is contributing to the rise in referrals as a major source of talent for them.

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What Matters Most

Generally, compensation and type of work are the most important factors in making career decisions. The global candidate preferences study also revealed that the importance of schedule flexibility is rising, pulling even with benefits as the third most important factor.

But markets dotted around the globe  showed significant differences. For example, candidates in Norway and the U.K. ranked type of work as most important. However, in Australia, compensation fell almost to the bottom of the list of motivators with factors like schedule flexibility and geographic location ranking much higher. And in Brazil, Costa Rica and India, opportunity for advancement mattered more to candidates than compensation. Regardless of what motivated them in a given market, candidates around the world are seeking and finding more information than ever before. It is important for employers to be aware of what motivates candidates when making career decisions, concluded the ManpowerGroup report.

Fifty eight percent of global candidates said that company brand is more important to them than it was five years ago. This is especially true when it comes to Millennial candidates. Companies can benefit from embracing this trend and building a stronger employer value proposition, or a unique set of offerings, associations and values that positively influence target candidates and employees.

In the five major talent markets tracked by ManpowerGroup (China, the U.S., Australia, the U.K. and Mexico), candidates report having more information about employer brand prior to the application process. Candidates in the U.S., Australia and the U.K. report having access to almost double the information about brand than the year before.

The trend also holds true for other markets surveyed. Globally, 28 percent of candidates reported having information about an employer’s brand pre-application. Norway, India, Sweden, Germany, Spain and Poland exceeded the global average, though candidates in Japan, Costa Rica and Brazil report had significantly less information.

“Traditionally, Japanese workers do not speak out about the workplace,” said Ayano Kiryu, assistant manager, ManpowerGroup, Japan. “Historically, it is commonplace for Japanese workers to spend their whole careers at one employer. Candidates do have more information than ever before about companies, but it is changing more slowly than in other markets.”

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Compensation Transparency

As noted earlier, compensation is an important motivator for career decisions among candidates globally. In fact, when it comes to switching jobs, an increase in pay is twice as powerful as the type of work, according to the ManpowerGroup report. Earlier and more complete disclosure of compensation information may also increase recruiting efficiency as candidates can remove themselves from consideration when one of their primary motivators for career decisions and job switching falls short of their expectations. In the five major markets for which year-over-year comparison data is available, the number of global candidates with compensation information has increased more than 10 percent in all markets.

On average, 44 percent of candidates globally have information about compensation prior to completing the application process. Information levels, however, fluctuate by market. More than half of candidates reported having compensation range information in China, Japan, Mexico, Brazil and Panama. Sweden and Norway lie at the other end of the spectrum with fewer than 20 percent having access to such information.

Candidates in Latin American countries reported having more information about benefits than other global regions. And over half of all Chinese and Indian candidates reported having information about benefits offered at the very earliest stages of the job search process.

Candidates across the globe wanted to understand the benefits information offered by prospective employers. Thirty eight percent of candidates said that the benefits offered with a role or company was one of their top three factors in making a career decision. Knowing benefits information prior to applying increased more in the U.K. and Australia more than in the U.S., Mexico or China. This may be the result of the continued provision of strong benefits packages by employers in the U.K. and Australia versus the other countries.

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Seeing the Value in the Vision

Companies have become increasingly active in sharing information about their mission, vision and corporate social responsibility policies, according to the ManpowerGroup report. This comes at a time when more businesses and candidates seek to align themselves with organizations that share a common point-of-view and commitment to these important areas.

And more candidates than ever are accessing this type of information prior to submitting an application. In particular, job seekers in Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. have made great strides in obtaining information about the vision and mission of potential employers.

Globally, 32 percent of candidates report having information about their potential employer’s corporate mission and vision at the earliest stages of the job search process. Candidates in 11 of the surveyed countries either met or exceeded this global average. And while fewer candidates, 16 percent, reported having CSR information prior to applying for a position, less than any other aspect of job search information, that number continues to rise.

“For years, the information about companies and positions was very controlled and purposefully hidden,” said Ximena Cardenas, program delivery manager, ManpowerGroup Solutions, Latin America. “We now encourage our clients to share more information about company vision and what it is like to work there. It creates a powerful and meaningful dialogue with candidates that can yield better quality hires.”

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Key Considerations for Employers 

The ManpowerGroup candidate preferences survey offered eight take-aways that employers should consider when reaching out to candidates:

  • Engaging with the Right Groups Often — As competition for candidates intensifies, employers are attempting to build talent communities and increase the frequency of communications with their talent pools. To win the attention of candidates, companies are providing more information to candidates than ever before. Communications that showcase company culture, values and other aspects of employer brand are increasing.
  • Messaging by Occupation Type  Fortune 500 companies are increasingly devoting portions of their career pages to messaging about specific job categories. This personalized content is intended to build stronger relationships with hard-to-find talent by demonstrating an understanding of their unique interests and needs.
  • Company Websites are Still No. 1 — For the second year in a row, candidates consider company websites to be the No. 1 source of information and the second most credible source of information about a company’s brand (current employees are the most credible source). Employers must recognize the value of the content on their website and the potential of their HR portals to build employer brand and increase access to the information candidates are seeking.
  • Employer Review Websites are Gaining Attention — Survey data shows that employer review websites are growing in importance as credible sources of information about an employer’s brand. Globally, they are the third most trusted source of information. Given that these websites are here to stay, HR executives must be aware of what people are saying about their employer brand — both positive and negative. Ideally, engaging with these posts in a positive manner will help potential candidates spot posts that are simply false or not reflective of the company’s values.

  • Credible Sources

    As social media channels expand, off-boarded employees have increasing influence over prospective employees’ decisions to either approach or avoid virtually any company. The same goes for potential investors, customers and business partners; many seek out employee feedback for a clear and unfiltered inside look.

    Organizations, therefore, are increasingly paying attention to how their exiting employees view them – finding inventive ways to ensure that off-boarded employees don’t damage their hard-earned reputations ….. Take part in the latest research on the topic and get a full report of the findings for free.

  • More Money Talk — In some markets, compensation information for particular roles has been publically available for years. In countries without such transparency, the anonymity of the Internet has made it a safe place to share company and salary information in ways never before possible. Millennials are helping to erode pay confidentiality policies. It is becoming harder to keep employees (and potential employees) in the dark regarding average industry compensation levels. Some companies seeking to attract Millennials have developed salary transparency policies as part of their corporate culture.
  • Have a Chat — More and more companies are encouraging potential candidates to engage with them before submitting their application. Specifically, employers are using chat functions to encourage potential applicants to ask questions of employees. Current employees rank the chat function as the No. 1 source of credible information about an employer’s brand; it is a simple and relatively inexpensive way to increase exposure of employee brand ambassadors.
  • More Digital, More Visual — The bar has been raised on social media content today. Text-only posts and stock photos no longer grab a viewer’s attention. The use of dynamic content, such as animation and video is becoming commonplace on all social media channels and is more likely to drive engagement than text-only posts. To attract notice from in-demand talent, employers must adapt to these changes. That means being more creative in expressing one’s brand online. Content such as video job descriptions, a 3D company tour, employee testimonials or a dedicated careers YouTube channel, can dramatically influence candidates’ perception of one’s company.
  • Offer a Test Drive — One of the best ways to ensure that candidates understand the employer’s value proposition is to have them experience it firsthand. In Japan, social recruiting platform Wantedly does just that. Wantedly curates a group of companies that candidates can interact with in office visits, workshops, mentoring groups and even weekend projects to better understand what it is like to work at a company. Companies in other markets can take a powerful lesson from Wantedly: Candidate ‘test drives’ emphasize transparency and build strong talent pools of potential employees, reducing the risk of culture or skills mismatches in the hiring process.

    Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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