Job Seekers Value Type of Job as Much as Pay

By Roy Maurer Apr 4, 2016
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While compensation is still a critical motivator for job candidates when making career decisions, the type of work they’ll be doing has now surpassed salary as the most important consideration, according to a survey report released by ManpowerGroup Solutions.

The Milwaukee-based global recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) provider surveyed nearly 4,500 job seekers in five influential employment markets around the world (Australia, China, Mexico, the U.S. and the U.K.) in October 2015. The survey covered job search practices and preferences and motivations for choosing jobs and changing jobs.

Nearly six in 10 respondents (56 percent) identified “type of work” as one of the top three factors in choosing a job, overtaking compensation at 54 percent. The results are very similar when looking solely at job seekers from the U.S. (58 percent vs. 57 percent).

“I think a lot of people start their careers with compensation on their mind first and foremost, but will quickly find out that without feeling value in what they do on a daily basis or feeling like they are contributing to something, compensation does not really fill that void,” said Catherine Pylant, global talent acquisition manager at WilsonHCG, an RPO, consulting and executive search firm based in Tampa, Fla. “Enjoying the type of work that one does is really what will get them out of bed in the morning and have them continue to be motivated to go to work every day.”

While it was previously a means to an end, “a job is now a more-integrated part of a holistic way of life,” said Yvette Moncrieffe, director of client delivery for ManpowerGroup Solutions, North America.

For those candidates looking to switch jobs, however, cash is still king—an increase in pay is twice as strong a motivator as the type of work for job hoppers. Exceptions to this were found in the U.K. and Australia, where type of work exceeded compensation as a reason to switch jobs.

For respondents as a whole, after type of job and compensation, job seekers were most interested in benefits offered (44 percent), geographic location (39 percent), opportunity for advancement (35 percent), schedule flexibility (31 percent), and company brand or reputation (20 percent).

Mexico was the only country to indicate opportunity for advancement as the second most important motivator, after compensation. “This may be related to the additional finding that 49 percent of candidates from Mexico believe one of their greatest career challenges is the lack of access to quality jobs,” said ManpowerGroup Solutions Senior Vice President and Global RPO President Kate Donovan.

Over one third (37 percent) of respondents overall self-identified as “continuous candidates,” agreeing with the statement “I am always looking for the next job opportunity.”

Donovan attributes this trend to the increasing prevalence of contract work over long-term employment. “The result is a new generation of employees with planned obsolescence built into their workplace dynamic,” she said. “These employees recognize the inevitability of their situation and it drives ongoing networking, job searching and mobility.”

Job Search Getting Personal

The survey supports the notion that the Internet has democratized job searching, as more candidates have become their own guides through the process.

Respondents were most likely to apply to jobs online via a laptop or desktop computer (34 percent). And one-fourth of candidates search, identify and pursue job opportunities entirely on their own—five times as many who prefer to solely use a recruiter. Another 17 percent use a mix of methods. Not surprisingly, when candidates do work with a recruiter, they prefer targeted, relevant options instead of broad solicitations.

“One of the impacts of technology and the Internet has been to devalue the middleman in most purchases or transactions,” Donovan said. “The rise of websites such as Travelocity and Expedia, for example, has made the travel agent a thing of the past. Job searching is no different. Popular job search sites were visited by between 23 percent and 45 percent of survey respondents in the two weeks prior to completing the survey.”

In China, Australia and Mexico, the top job search sites are visited nearly 50 percent more often by candidates than in the U.S. and U.K. Of the five markets surveyed, Chinese candidates are the most active users of job search sites, regularly visiting a number of sites, according to the report.

Only 4 percent of respondents overall reported having applied to a job via a mobile app on a smartphone. Usage was slightly higher among U.S. and Chinese candidates and 50 percent more likely among Millennials than Generation X job seekers.

However, 12 percent of respondents overall said they use smartphones to research companies and jobs. Twenty-two percent of Chinese candidates do this.

Company websites are the channel used most often by candidates to access information about a company (53 percent), followed by search engine results (52 percent) and social networks (30 percent).

Notably, Chinese (43 percent) and Mexican (44 percent) job seekers use social media to research employers at a higher rate than the overall average. This may be due to a lack of information provided by Mexican and Chinese companies on their websites, Donovan said.

Nine out of 10 respondents in China and Mexico use WeChat and Facebook, respectively, for this purpose. In the U.S., U.K. and Australia, about 70 percent of candidates use Facebook in this way.

“Employers should recognize the power of social media among today’s global candidates, specifically markets such as China and Mexico where social media sites are almost equally as influential as company websites,” Donovan said.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow him @SHRMRoy

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