Earlier in 2020, in the “beforetimes”,we began to survey members on their experiences when job searching, and in particular what attracted them to or acted as a barrier to applying for new roles. Our aim was to identify where the real pain points lie – and whether companies are inadvertently putting off excellent candidates by failing to draw in talent through their recruitment channels.
Our data already shows that workplace culture is both a key factor in attracting applicants and in candidates ruling companies out – as well as a lack of transparency on culture, and in particular flexibility and balance.
We will continue to collect data in this area, but as we are amid a period of change, here are some interim results from the responses. The vast majority of respondents (82%) were women.
Personal networks still rule
Networks can be a really effective way of being informed about new opportunities. The data so far shows that two thirds of respondents rely on personal networks or referrals to find new roles,the same share that use recruiters. But of course that relies on you having the right network to tap into and may reinforce system inequity for those without that knowledge or sponsorship. Equally, recruiters have access to many of the great roles available, but if they are not clued into how to assess the qualities of a candidate because they lack the experience on paper, you may find you are not put forward.
Push or pull factor?
The most significant reason that respondents (over 40%) searched for new roles was ‘career advancement’, which is not surprising – and although only 27% were looking for a higher salary in their search, in fact the package was the element that was most attractive to 93%of respondents (if the information was available). The was closely followed by the culture of the potential new workplace, which was a pull factor for 86%.
The role of culture is clear when considering the main barriers to applying for a new role – almost two thirds said the workplace culture was a barrier when considering a new company. The second most common barrier was ‘Confidence in my ability’, which also appeared to be tied into whether there was a match with experience level. While it was a small percentage of the cohort, there was an important highlight to accessibility of roles not being clear in many cases. With the recent experience of accommodating everyone working from home, this should give many employers pause.
And there are barriers in the form of time invested in the current role, although these can be really positive. When asked what keeps them in their current tole, 55% responded ‘I have flexibility’.Just over half cited their good working relationships. One third cited concerns about moving to a new company.
The picture that emerges seems to show that women have been able to develop flexibility into their current role,enjoy the culture they have become part of and are scared of losing it if they move – potentially because the flexibility is not coming as standard. Just 3%said that they wanted to stay because they had a clear career pathway.
What’s missing from the picture
Because we think its an essential element that is putting off more diverse applicants, we asked what information was missing from job adverts. We are aware of the research that shows on balance women are likely to only apply when they meet all the requirements of the description compared to men. However, what stood out starkly was the desire for true transparency on workplace culture, ranging from whether flexible and accessible working was supported (the most common element cited), to the type of salary and benefits on offer, including parental leave. There was strong support for more information on team structure, hierarchy and career potential. Typically, a lot of the information sought is only shared at interview stage, and so if the workplace has a culture that looks discouraging from a culture perspective –including a lack of diverse leadership – its likely to limit the applicant pool significantly.
There was is an underlying tension around salary. One the one hand, it’s considered less significant than career potential in the job search. On the other, when the information is available,it’s the most attractive factor for a role. However, the lack of clear information on salary and benefits was also a frustration.
Having a good thing in the existing role is worth a lot – the time invested in developing working practices that suit is valued and there are risks to moving companies or major role changes and losing these ad hoc earned advantages.
Companies that offered flexibility and were clear in committing to it would likely see an uptick in applicants.
Understanding how transferable skills and earned experience will be considered over qualifications or meeting a tick box list is important to many candidates. When you haven’t been offered the same opportunities to lead formal projects or teams, how can you demonstrate your capability if the same rigid job descriptions are in play?
Culture is really important. Good culture is a key factor in attracting talent and bad culture in repelling it.
We will continue to analyse responses and provide insights. If you would like help us, please take the survey.