The employment market has experienced major shifts throughout the past five years. As the economy continues to rebound, top candidates in today’s market have choices and are now selecting positions based on advancement potential and overall fulfillment, a trend resulting in part from a post-recession shift. This change has employers attempting to catch up with the new, candidate-centric climate.

“It’s a time of change for employers right now,” says Ann Ruschy, chief talent officer for Salo and affiliate NumberWorks. “During the recession there were a lot of qualified candidates to choose from, but things have changed and it’s a candidate’s market where top candidates have choices.”

While candidates have more employment choices than they did a few years ago, a pivotal market change resulting from surviving the recent recession is a pool of top candidates who are making employment decisions based on a new set of selection criteria: personal values, workplace experience and career advancement

“Candidates are looking for alignment in value exchange,” says Adam Sprecher, managing director for Salo. “They’re motivated by more than a salary. They want to know what else they’re getting in exchange for the work they do each day.”

Whether it’s work-life balance, professional growth, community involvement, volunteer opportunities or networking connections, candidates in today’s market are looking for an organization where the business objectives, culture and environment aligns with their personal and professional goals and values.

“It’s all about alignment and the right fit based on many factors,” says Loralee Wick, business development director for Salo. “Sometimes candidates choose to accept a position or an employer chooses to hire an individual based on likability factors. This does not ensure success because so much more comes into play, such as skill set, work style, values and environment.”

Defining values. A critical first step.
So how can candidates and employers adapt to this new employment marketplace? How are both job seekers and businesses able to make sure they’re making the best employment decisions?

“Both candidates and companies need to be very intentional with hiring because things are very different than they were during the recession,” says Jeff Donnay, business development director at NumberWorks, a Salo affiliate. “It’s about both parties defining values, understanding what the other sees as important and discovering alignment.”

Defining values often comes down to taking the time to analyze goals, objectives and culture, and making a checklist of “must haves” and “can’t stands.” Identifying these values will enable both the candidate and employer to ask the right questions and help make better employment decisions.

“Having a checklist of deal breakers, flexible criteria, and ideal factors regarding culture, environment and job duties can give both candidates and employers a better experience,” Sprecher says. “Both parties will be able to articulate those values and ask the right questions, so that six months down the road, nobody is pulling their hair out because they made a poor decision.”

Implementing change. A vital component.
Getting the most out of the candidate experience and revamping hiring processes are areas where candidates and employers can implement change to achieve their desired outcomes.

“Researching is one of the best ways to make the most of a candidate experience,” Sprecher says. “For example, if a job seeker values community involvement as part of their career, they should identify companies who share that value and offer volunteer opportunities. Learning more online and inquiring about a company’s strategy surrounding community involvement during the interview process can help the candidate identify a good fit.”

Employers need to take time to align their values with their hiring processes as well, and a simple adjustment is updating job descriptions. Truly highlighting culture, values and environment along with responsibilities and desired skills can help a company communicate who they are and cater to those candidates who align with their philosophies.

“Job descriptions are a good baseline to determine the key responsibilities for a position, but employers need to take it to the next level and present how that role might fit into the organization’s strategic plan, or what philanthropic or networking involvement they practice,” Donnay says. “That way, in addition to job duties, companies can communicate their values to showcase why they are an employer of choice to attract top talent.”

Being the right candidate. Securing the right candidate.
“Skill factor overrides everything in the hiring process, but in order to be that sought-after candidate, an individual must have a positive attitude and be willing to jump in and try anything,” Wick says. “Adaptability, versatility, agility and embracing personal accountability are invaluable.”

No matter the type of position or employment situation, candidates still need to prove they’re the right person for the job. Candidates need to highlight their unique talents and expertise that drive outcomes. Differentiating yourself from the competition with concrete examples remains powerful.. Equally important, employers must realize that the candidate-centric marketplace means they have to act quickly in order to acquire the top candidates who will help improve their business outcomes.