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Study: U.S. Job Seekers Want Growth, Professional Development
 

By Dawn S. Onley  5/23/2012
 

A recent survey conducted by a Washington, D.C.-area human resource firm found that job candidates in the U.S. look for one thing above all others when applying for jobs: opportunities for growth and professional development.

This was the case regardless of the respondents’ current employment status, gender, age and educational background. Overwhelmingly, the employed and unemployed responded that they are hoping to land their next job with a company where they can increase their skills set, according to the survey, conducted by Jumpstart: HR. This beat out compensation and benefits, company culture, and company brand as the most important factor in determining whether candidates submit an application.

Consequently, companies that offer opportunities for growth and professional development are being increasingly sought out by members of the labor force—even in an economy that hasn’t quite rebounded. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8.1 percent of Americans were unemployed as of April 2012.

Additionally, candidates are using social media and corporate websites to learn about potential employers and to apply for job postings, a switch from the traditional approaches of networking and simply walking in to a company office and filling out a paper application. The majority of those surveyed said company websites are the preferred method of applying for jobs, beating out networking, employing social media and using a staffing agency.

Joey V. Price, PHR, CEO of Jumpstart: HR told SHRM Online that the irony of the survey results is that professional development is often the first area that companies slash during budget cuts. The survey was conducted through social media. Price presented his findings during a webinar for HR.com’s Institute for Human Resources in April 2012. He said companies would be wise to heed the survey’s results.

“We have to pay attention to not only attracting top talent but retaining top talent,” Price said. “Companies are spending more dollars on recruitment and getting more ‘social,’ but are we really listening to what candidates are saying?”

Price said he hopes the survey results help HR executives and C-suite executives understand that employees are a company’s most valuable asset and that organizations must do a better job of attracting and retaining employees if they desire long-term success.

Rachel A. Resnick, America’s regional HR change management lead at Pfizer and co-founder of NYC HR Young Professionals, said it is critical for human resource personnel to drive culture while retaining top talent.

“Just as marketing professionals drive the brand for sales, HR needs to drive recruiting strategies to market their organization for potential candidates,” Resnick told SHRM Online. “We as HR professionals need to help our organizations look inwardly about what makes us successful and what our value proposition is to candidates and then project that outward to the marketplace. The more an organization can distinguish themselves and their unique traits upfront, the more likely they are to attract the right candidate, not just any candidate.”

Dawn S. Onley is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.

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