What Job Candidates Are Actually Looking For

March 22, 2016 at 9:07 AM by William Clarke


It’s the million dollar question: What do candidates really want out their jobs? Why? Because understanding what candidates look for in a role allows you to anticipate how to set yourself apart from other companies and what makes people excited to stick around long-term with your team.

Spoiler alert: According to Indeed, the major job criteria that matter to candidates are compensation, location, and flexibility. In other words, if you aren’t offering competitive rewards package, a manageable commute, and flexible work remote options, you might be in for a tough search. In fact, flexibility is now the third most important factor to workers, with 51 percent of those polled attracted to their job because of it, so make sure you’re keeping your policies up to date.

But that’s not all. When it comes to your hiring process, you’re also being evaluated by your candidates.


You can’t expect to underpay for top talent. In fact, you may have to pay above market rates if your candidates possess an in demand skillset. Stay on top of market rates so that you’re not shooting yourself in the foot by lowballing people. Sites like Glassdoor or Payscale make it easier than ever for smart candidates to find compensation info based on job title, geographic location and other factors. They can also see what other people are saying about you.


Is your office location convenient, or does it take a 90 minute commute from the nearest city? Creating employee-friendly policies that allow staffers to create their own schedules can help take the sting out of long commutes. Make a habit out of asking your candidates if the commute will be an issue. If they voice doubts, evaluate possible solutions with them and think about how your company can alleviate complicated travel time for more staffers, like offering a transit and parking commuter benefits program.


Modern technology allows people to work from almost anywhere. Today’s job candidates want to see that reality reflected. Laptops, smart phones and Wi-Fi have turned the 9 to 5 office workday into the work whenever you can, wherever you want, however you want workday. In many ways this is beneficial to companies.

The thing is, giving employees latitude here is a win-win. Studies have shown that working from home just a day or two a week can increase both employee happiness and productivity. Even if your company doesn’t have an official policy, making allowances on a case by case basis for employees who request them could be the difference between a “yes” and a “no.”

But that’s not all. Even before you hire someone, you can have a big impact on their candidate experience. Here are three ways:


Candidates want their time respected, and you could be sabotaging your own hiring. Is your online application process so convoluted that it requires 30 minutes to manually input 10 years of job history? If so, you’re doing it wrong. Other red flags: Asking candidates to come in at short notice, waiting a month to touch base after interviews, or only giving them 48 hours to accept your job offer. None of those tactics respect their time. Instead, they put your immediate needs over theirs, which sends the wrong message.

If you’re not certain how to find other points of failure, take a look at your hiring cycle and find places where things slow down or you lose candidates. Your hiring process is usually the first impression people have about your company and its employer brand.

Open Communication

Clearly set and manage candidate expectations. For instance, tell them how long the hiring process will take and how many interviews they can anticipate. Keep them updated in between touch points so they know what’s going on. Are they no longer in the running? Let them know.

The idea is to keep their experience positive, no matter the outcome. To that end, ask them for feedback afterwards. Whether you hire them or not, they have valuable insight into your process and how it can be improved. It’s also a nice way to take the sting out of not hiring them and gives them the chance to offer constructive criticism.

Proper Onboarding

It can be tempting to throw your new employees headfirst into the deep end once they’ve signed on and move onto the next open position. Don’t. Instead, create a structured onboarding process. Studies have shown they have a powerful impact on employee retention, which means it’s a huge money and time saver. Make sure new employees have time to demo your product and receive tutorials on any technology they don’t already know. Give them time to learn and make sure they’re given ample opportunities to ask questions.

Even more importantly, show your new employees the values most important at your company. Here at Entelo, we continually highlight our core values during our weekly meetings and pay particular attention to acknowledging those employees whose actions demonstrate those values. We also have our core values posted around the office to help keep them ever present.

It’s not a huge mystery what job candidates and new employees look for in their ideal companies. The good news is that we have the chance to shape the hiring and onboarding process to better cater to their needs.

Have you found that your candidates consistently look for one thing or another at your company? How have you addressed these concerns? Share your intel in the comments!  

Related articles:
How to Improve Your Employer Brand through the Candidate Experience
Quantifying the Candidate Experience
Can Hiring Managers Resolve the Most Overlooked Retention Strategy?

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