What does your ideal candidate really want?

What does your ideal candidate really want?


The current labour shortage gives job candidates a lot of leverage. In a survey by the Conseil du patronat du Québec, 94% of companies indicated that they were struggling with labour recruitment. This includes companies of varying sizes and from diverse industries and regions. Moreover, as Quebec is particularly affected by the trend of population aging, experts believe that this pressure on employers will not subside any time soon, and certainly not before 2030.

When qualified candidates are few and far between, how do you respond as a company? How do you stand out to candidates in your talent search? In this article, we help you navigate this situation by breaking down the priorities of your future employees.


1. More flexibility in this new normal


When the pandemic hit, remote work became a lifeline for businesses, allowing them to continue their operations. It quickly became apparent that employees could be efficient and productive when working from home.

Prior to this health crisis, many employees were asking for more flexibility, but often to no avail. For more than a year, remote work and flexible schedules have been part of our day to day, and employees do not want to go back to the way things were. As people begin to return to the office, companies need to strike a balance between in-office and at-home work and between their expectations and those of the workforce.

Remote work can actually solve certain recruitment problems, as it allows companies to:

  • Broaden job locations beyond a given city or region;
  • Reintegrate certain groups of qualified employees into the workforce, including young retirees or parents who left the workforce to care for their children.

By instituting an innovative remote work policy, your company could gain access to a number of highly qualified employees who have no interest in the traditional model of in-office work.

A study reported in the Harvard Business Review shows that there is a clear disconnect between the expectations of employees and the reality of recruiters when it comes to work arrangements. The American multinational Citrix surveyed more than 2,000 employees and 500 HR managers to get their viewpoints on this topic. They were asked how companies should respond to the shortage of skilled talent. While 83% of employees surveyed responded that companies need to leverage flexible work models, only 66% of HR directors embraced this course of action.


2. Focusing on a mission, not tasks


As the pace of innovation accelerates, skilled employees want to be evaluated based on their impact on the company more than their work output. While a company’s agility is often the key to success, the last thing businesses want is to stifle their employees’ intrapreneurship, especially when it is the employees themselves who wish to perform this role.

For example, suppose that one of the duties of an information technology specialist is to analyze a given data point every day. Currently, this person is being evaluated on her ability to analyze this data effectively. If she found a way to automate the process, would she be congratulated or promoted or, on the contrary, would she risk making her job obsolete?

Leaders need to establish performance indicators based on impact rather than the process. People want to feel like they are making a unique contribution to a company’s mission. For this to happen, they need to have the confidence and space to do their job, whether they are working at the office or remotely.


3. Having shared values


It has been shown that companies with a culture that fosters diversity, equity and inclusion are more resilient, innovative and successful. From the point of view of a job candidate, these companies are also ahead of the curve. Diversity is more than just a social issue; it’s also a key selection criterion when choosing an employer.

In today’s world, we are all affected by issues surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion. It is crucial for employers to demonstrate that they genuinely care about their employees’ welfare by recognizing the unique realities of each person and giving those with the same skills equal opportunities.

With the globalization of business activity, the employment market too is beginning to cross borders. The opportunities around international recruitment and the nearly infinite possibilities surrounding remote work reinforce the importance of embracing greater workplace diversity.


4. An employer that invests in employees’ development


Candidates want to work for a company that will invest in them, in their potential. To establish a strong employer brand and stand out to candidates during their talent search, employers must demonstrate that they value training and development.

Having a solid skills development program also goes a long way in keeping employees motivated and retaining the most promising among them—both essential components to growth.

Developing cross-functional and specialized skills is not only essential for recruitment and retention but also ensures that the company remains agile, creates value and increases productivity.


Human capital: a key to performance


To recruit the best talent and ensure future success, companies need to be resilient. A strong employer brand that speaks to the real demands of qualified candidates is essential to capturing the attention of top candidates in this day and age. Beyond this, companies need to be flexible, and not only in terms of schedules but also in how they approach work and the employee-employer relationship.

In this time of talent scarcity, candidates know what they are worth, and they also know what they want. The companies that will succeed in recruiting the best and the brightest will be the ones that can create an environment where people want to work.

– François Piché-Roy, President and Senior Consultant, PIXCELL

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