Money, flexibility, belonging: 3 things candidates want that will get them in the door

Staffing providers must deliver the cold hard truth about what talent wants

It’s no secret we are in a tight labor market. We read the reports on labor shortages and difficulties filling roles – for some it seems like the race for talent never really ended at all, there was just a detour during the pandemic (which offered its own set of business struggles.)

But as jobs continue to open up, organizations are turning to their staffing providers for solutions, asking a lot of the same questions:

  • How do we attract candidates?
  • How can we fill positions faster?
  • How can we avoid losing candidates in the hiring process?

Sometimes, there are definitive changes that can be implemented to solve for these concerns, company-by-company. Often, however, staffing partners owe it to their clients to give them the cold hard truth about the race for talent and what will solve for it across the board:

Money, Flexibility and Belonging

Money: Pay Rates

No one likes hearing the ‘money’ answer. It’s just sort of an easy-fallback – ‘increase rates and you will attract candidates.’

But we also understand it’s not always as simple as it sounds. With inflation, supply chain issues and more, companies have had to scour their budgets for cost-saving measures as well. Employment costs are typically the largest budget line-item, so making a blanket upgrade in rates is not always feasible. Ensuring that you are at least in line with the rate expectations that the market will bear, however, is crucial.

When drafting your next job requisition, review as much of the market salary data as you can. If you open up the role to remote candidates, consider what outer, less expensive markets pay as well and target those areas for your candidate search. Offering a signing bonus opens up new areas of negotiation. While money up-front may not always be doable, a progressive rate increase upon performance or longevity, or shortening the time between regular merit increases could be part of discussions with candidates. Although a high rate will attract candidates, they also want to understand growth potential.

Flexibility: Remote Work

As Matlen Silver’s expert, Jared Whelan, said perfectly, “…if you’re not willing to offer your prospective talent remote flexibility, someone else is…often for equal or more money!”

Flexible work schedules, either through remote or hybrid-models are fast becoming a non-negotiable. The flexibility that workers have enjoyed and continue to enjoy to create a more balanced lifestyle is a great job attractor. No commuting, availability for personal appointments, and increased family time is now possible with remote work – even if you work out a schedule of some time at home, some time at the office. It’s simply practical to allow flexibility. Think about it: appointments for doctors, dentists, school events and more all happen during the same time as the workday. The hassle of going to work, leaving work for an appointment and then returning again is stressful. Even if a person stays late to make up the time, who wants to sit in an empty office space to give back 2 hours from the day?

Additionally, folks are worried about the cost of living for the near and far future based on the current economic landscape. Many have chosen to relocate to communities with a lower cost of living while still being productive at their jobs from afar. A WFH option solves for the concerns above and makes for happy, productive, less-stressed team members.

If remote or hybrid-schedule is not an option, consider modified in-office schedules that workers can select to allow for some level of flexibility. Through banked time from longer shifts, adjustable hours, and more, we can surely devise creative ways to offer flexible options. And with the increase in so much tech to keep us connected, we run out of excuses as to why it can’t be done.

Culture: Knowing they will belong

Finally, surveys indicate a top priority for talent candidates is a company’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity and creating a sense of belonging across the organization. There are a multitude of nuances on how to create an environment that fosters DE&I to attract candidates as well as meets their expectations once they become team members. How this is recognized ranges from issues as visible as how diverse the leadership team is, to what holidays are celebrated. Creating a workplace that is reflective of the greater community applies to every organizational practice.

For instance, in recruiting, do you only recruit from the same sources time and again? Expand your network and tap into unconventional talent hubs. Do all your resumes look like they have the same credentials? Adjust the job requirements and consider cross-over skills that would allow for candidates who can grow into a position.

Belonging, however, moves beyond the traditional way we look at DE&I. A leader for DI&B at Indeed, LaFawn Davis shares that Belonging is a “feeling” and her definition is clear: “Belonging at work is a feeling of community with the people and environments that make us feel connected.”

That’s powerful, and human. If we treat each other with humanity as our starting point, it’s a great foundation for cultivating a sense of belonging.  Asking yourself first, always, “how is my action making this person feel?” Or, “how can I know my colleague because of who they are, not because of a business need?” is also a start to creating genuine connections and developing a culture around those notions throughout an entire organization. Employers must understand and act upon workers’ desire to belong by creating connection avenues for team-building, formalizing policy where worker feedback is heard and considered, and opening channels for gathering that feedback.


By no means are the three truths listed here an exhaustive list. Candidates and workers are prepared to articulate their most pressing expectations for a hiring organization. In a tough talent market, though, those organizations not truly considering their feedback and who are hesitant to think forward, will pay a price in unfilled roles, stagnant productivity and lost time.

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