What Do Today’s Job Candidates Really Want?

Low unemployment and high demand for talent is putting job seekers and new employees in control.
By: | July 23, 2019 • 2 min read

Despite a robust hiring market, new research finds workers are split on how they feel about their current job, with half of respondents feeling like they have a career while the remaining half feel like they have “just” a job, and almost one third of employees plan to change jobs this year.

CareerBuilder’s latest surveys, which were conducted online by The Harris Poll, reveal insights on why employees left their last job, and what they find most important when considering whether to apply for and stay at a job.

The surveys included representative samples of 1,021 hiring managers and human resource managers and 1,010 full-time U.S. workers across industries and company sizes in the private sector.

“We are pleased to see prospects remain strong for job seekers,” says Irina Novoselsky, CEO of CareerBuilder. “Job candidates are in the driver’s seat and are considering much more than salary when applying for jobs. Benefits, location and commute time are increasingly important factors.”

According to the surveys, many employees want to get ahead in their career but aren’t offered educational opportunities to learn the skills needed to do so. Indeed, only 32% of employees report being satisfied with the opportunities for career advancement and just 37% say they are satisfied with the training and learning opportunities at their current company, and the majority (58%) think their company does not offer enough opportunities to learn new skills and help them move up in their career.

Such is the demand for educational opportunities that, if offered, 73% of employees whose companies do not currently offer educational opportunities or workshops outside of work hours say they would be likely to participate if they were available.

In response, an increasing number of companies are training workers who may not have the skills needed but do have potential for higher-skill jobs. Fifty-six percent of employers have paid for employees to get skills-based training or continued education outside the office so they can move up to a higher-skill job within their organization.

Other key findings:

The job seeker experience is paramount. Survey respondents say an application that is difficult or confusing to complete (42%), or one that takes too long to complete (31%), would cause them to give up before submitting.

Benefits and convenience may be more important than compensation. Fifteen percent of employees say low compensation or lack of benefits are among the top reasons they left their last job. Employees shared that other than salary, benefits (75%) and commute time (59%) are the most important factors they consider when applying to a job. When asked about extra perks, 42% of employees say half-day Fridays would make them more willing to join or stay at a company. On-site fitness centers (23%) and award trips (21%) are also important to job seekers.

Job-hopping is on the rise. The CareerBuilder surveys found that 29% of employees say they regularly search for jobs while employed, and 78% say that even though they are not actively looking for a new role, they would be open if the right opportunity came along. Fifty-one percent report they’ve looked for other jobs even when an offer has been extended and the background check is in process, and 67% of employers report almost a quarter of new hires not showing up after accepting a position. A tech-enabled offer and signature process that can happen fast is pivotal, as convenience and speed of the organization in confirming a new hire could impact how many show up on the first day.

“To attract and retain talent,” Novoselsky says. “Hiring managers will need to meet workers’ hiring, onboarding and career expectations and provide the perks, work/life balance and career advancement opportunities they demand.”

Web Editor Michael J. O’Brien has been with HRE for more than a decade and holds a degree in economics from Boston College. He can be reached at [email protected]