Attracting Older Workers to Retail and Hospitality Jobs

According to a global study by Bain & Company, workers aged 55 and older make up over 25% of the workforce in G7 countries by 2031, making older workers one of the most in-demand talent pools for employers today. In the UK, the government launched a “returnership” initiative to inspire those over the age of 50 to come back to work or to seek a career change. This scheme involves three programs that help older workers retrain and learn new skills, providing workers with a clear roadmap back into the workplace and encouraging organisations to hire them. In Western Australia, the Job Reconnect program provides grants to both employers and employees to cover costs related to licences, upskilling, and even work clothing, transport and childcare.

It’s crucial for retail and hospitality employers to know how to entice older workers back to work and to make the most of their valuable talent. Known as the ‘sandwich generation’—defined by caring for their elderly parents and also dependent children or grandchildren—older works have a strong work ethic. Customer facing and front of house roles enable them to fit work around caring for family and other responsibilities.

Keep reading for key insights from our panel discussion and get the latest research to understand exactly what older workers want and what retail and hospitality organisations can do attract this in-demand demographic.

What Do Older Workers Want?

What do over 50s want and need from an employer? Does your organisation know how to attract and engage this older workforce and how to hire and retain them?

Flexibility

Unsurprisingly, monetary concerns are coaxing older workers back into the workplace due to the cost-of-living crisis. However, when it comes to choosing an employer, flexibility takes precedence over money.

Hospitality roles typically attract a younger demographic of workers. However, the flexibility offered by these jobs also appeals to the older working generation. Given that the over 50s are the largest age group with caring roles, flexible and part-time work is a powerful motivator for them to fit a job into their routine.  

As well as permanent roles, seasonal and flexible roles are available within the hospitality and retail industries, which can be more attractive to the older working community. Working harder in those seasonal months creates work-life balance, allowing older workers to take time off during quieter periods to recover and be with their friends and family.

Sense of Belonging

Workers in this age rage are still searching for rewarding work. Older workers wish to find a place where they can feel a part of their local community and give back. Over 50s enjoy creating social connections that a customer-facing job in a restaurant or supermarket can provide.

Customer-facing roles in hospitality and retail give individuals the chance to serve and connect with their community. For older customers, seeing employees in shops and restaurants that represent them can boost the customer experience. 

Myths About Older Workers

There are plenty of misconceptions out there from employers and colleagues about hiring and working with older workers. Consider these myths busted.

Myth 1: Older Workers are Resistant to Technology

Certain words can be viewed as a turn off for an over 50s audience, including “tech-savvy”, which some see as a way to ward off older candidates. There are older people who will feel excluded because others wrongly perceive that they’re less capable with technology, when in fact they are part of a generation that has seen huge advancements in technology. Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, is in his late 60s, and Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple is in his early 60s.

Recognise that all colleagues work differently with technology, so you must be thoughtful in your use of training. In hospitality and retail, workers are likely to be using tills and sales computer systems. Regardless of whether a person struggles with technology, an organisation should have a strong program in place to support workers as they learn how to use these tools. For example, consider implementing a buddy system of workers and leaders who will happily help new employees in their first few weeks as they learn point-of-sale systems.

Myth 2: Absences are Higher Because of Health Issues

As people get older, their health can decline. However, this doesn’t mean that absenteeism is higher amongst older workers. In fact, older workers are more likely to have higher everyday attendance rates due to their strong work ethic. When you do see sickness or absence, it is typically in the form of long-term leave, rather than the odd day here and there.

Myth 3: Older Workers are Less Productive Than Younger Workers

A study demonstrated that there was no different between younger and older workers in terms of productivity. This study found that with their years of experience and memories, older people perhaps dismiss new information when they process things and instead use past information. It’s therefore important to acknowledge that older workers aren’t doing things worse, they just do these things differently through their years of experience.

What Can Organisations Do to Attract Older Workers?

So, how can retail and hospitality organisation tap into this hard-working talent pool? Here are four questions to ask to ensure your talent acquisition program is over-50s friendly.

Are Your Candidate Attraction Materials Inclusive for Everyone?

To attract older workers, you must think more creatively and broadly.  Use community-based websites to engage with people who live close to your locations. Show how the job will fit into their lifestyle and what it would be like for an older person to work there, rather than a generic message. Create testimonials from your current employees to support this.

Make sure that your imagery is diverse, featuring people of all ages. Look at your marketing materials and ensure that it reflects the community so that over 50s can see that jobs in hospitality are here for them. Take advantage of local community-boards in village halls and supermarkets.

How is Your Candidate Experience?

Retention and attraction are very different. Employers can encourage people to apply for jobs through their advertisements, yet ultimately, it is down to the experience the candidate has during the recruitment process, induction and beyond. The candidate experience is what will make them accept the position and stay at the company. 

When younger workers leave education, they’re taught how to answer competency-based interview questions and how to write a CV. The older generation of workers likely won’t have a CV and may not have experience with this kind of interview. Is your interview process age inclusive and relevant to them?

Are You Giving Them What They Want?

Now that we’ve shared what older workers want, is your organisation serious about flexible shift patterns? Over 40% of the part-time workforce is aged over 50. Not only does this part-time schedule work in hospitality, but also in retail, in which the holiday season creates a huge demand for workers.

Different shift patterns in retail can support individuals in their family commitments and lifestyle. Look at your employees’ caring responsibilities, for partners, for children, for elderly parents, and take this into account when creating your shift offerings.

But what else does this generation want from you? Everyone responds well to positive feedback. Both the retail and hospitality industries are great at celebrating successes, shown through brilliant behaviour and examples across organisations.

Finally, show that your organisation values them by offering benefit packages. Health is a priority for everyone as we get older, and health benefits can help to attract them to your organisation.

Does Your Anti-Bias Training Include Age?

Ageism usually gets the least amount of focus across the D&I plan. Train your leaders and hiring managers on unconscious bias particularly as it relates to age. Ensure there are no biases lurking in the recruitment process to open up talent pools instead of closing them down.

FUTURE OF WORK

DESTINATION 2030: 10 PREDICTIONS FOR WHAT’S NEXT IN THE WORLD OF WORK

The Multigenerational Workforce: Keeping Millennials Motivated

In this article, the third in our Multigenerational Workforce series, we’ll be focusing on millennials in the workplace, including what matters to them and how best to engage them.

By 2025, millennials will make up over half of the workforce, essentially replacing retiring Baby Boomers. They’ve already made a huge impact on the way we work, including leveraging technology to revolutionise productivity. As the older millennials enter their 40s, they’re moving into leadership roles and will have even more influence on how organizations operate into the future. So, how can employers harness the power of millennials to drive their businesses forward?

Who are Millennials?

Millennials, less commonly known as Generation Y, follow Gen X and precede Gen Z. Millennials were approximately born from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s during the rise of technology, making them a tech-savvy generation. They’re the first generation to come of age in the new millennium, hence the name millennials. They are also known to put time and effort into their own personal beliefs and values.

Workers from this generation are bound together through their shared experience of financial challenges, including the 2008 Great Recession, which caused a 19% unemployment rate and massive student loan debt amongst millennials. As a result, members of the generation are more likely to find themselves underemployed or self-employed.

Perceptions and Misperceptions

This generation have been characterised as lazy and narcissistic, labelled as “Generation Me”. Other common perceptions for this demographic include being easily bored and hopping from job to job rather than staying with one employer. This could be, however, due to the anxiety caused from the global financial crash.

Despite these stereotypes, millennials have been described as self-sufficient, solving their own issues and teaching themselves through the internet rather than relying on others for help. They are also known to be confident, curious and open-minded.

What Matters to Millennials in the Workplace?

Digital & Tech Skills

Having been the first generation to grow up in a digital world, millennials have widespread experience of the development of technology, being both the “pioneers and the guinea pigs”.

This has affected the way that they communicate, with 41% of millennials choosing to communicate electronically instead of face-to-face according to a study by PwC. However, they’re also the last generation to have grown up in a world without the internet in every household.

When considering a job, 59% of millennials claim that technology in the workplace is an important factor. Employers are responding to this by encouraging professional use of social media at work and introducing smartphones as an employee benefit.

Mission and Purpose

Millennials thrive in a workplace that is mission-driven, keeping them motivated and inspired. In our recent report, Inside the Candidate Experience, we found that mission and purpose were the second most important factor for millennials when considering a new job. Those who work for companies with this as a priority feel more accomplished. Millennials want to share their employer’s goals and values in order to feel they are contributing to the world.

Collaboration

The move to a more collaborative working environment has been driven by millennials through the use of technology as it’s become more sophisticated. A collaborative environment allows workers to speak their ideas freely and feel a sense of belonging as part of a team. One way that employers are emphasizing collaboration is through mentorship programs, which have been proven to increase the happiness of workers and their productivity.

How Do You Engage Millennials at Work?

As millennials slowly take over as the majority of the workforce, employers must learn strategies to keep them motivated and feeling valued.

Be Open and Transparent

Millennials want openness and transparency from their leaders, ensuring their confidence with factual information that can be validated.

Keep millennials productive by creating clear targets are regular opportunities for feedback and praise. In fact, according to the same PwC study, 51% of this demographic believe that frequent or continuous feedback is a must on the job, making up a huge part of what keeps them motivated and engaged in their work.

Embrace Teamwork

To manage a multigenerational workforce, leaders must recognise that each generation may need different methods of management. Amongst millennials, 74% expressed that they are as happy working alongside other generations as with their own. So, it’s unsurprising to find millennials now managing older workers.

However, 34% of millennials felt that their personal drive could be perceived as intimidating to other generations. Effective programs that encourage interactions between different generations are necessary to overcome these misperceptions. For example, millennials thrive in opportunities such as “reverse mentoring,” in which they are able to learn from and teach skills to older workers.

Invest in Employee Development

Millennials look at their work as a means to learn and develop, which may be the greatest differentiator between them and all other generations. Indeed, a whopping 87% of millennials say that growth and development opportunities are important to them in a job, compared to just 69% of non-millennials. Offering opportunities to develop technology skills and interpersonal skills will not only help you retain millennial employees, it will help you ensure this important segment of your workforce is ready to step into leadership roles.

Trust Them

While millennials want to be supported through feedback and praise, they also want the freedom to “be their own boss”. Flexibility is important to millennials in the workplace. They’ll happily put in the long hours if they believe their work has a purpose, but those hours may not be during the traditional 9-to-5.

That said, many millennials believe that success should be evaluated through productivity, rather than the number of hours they are seen in an office. If they meet the deadlines you set, don’t be concerned about the hours they clock in and out. Focus on creating a flexible work culture to maximise millennial engagement, allowing employees to have more control over their working hours and location.

Lead with Your Values

Millennials are searching for more than “just a job” and want to achieve something worthwhile. Akin to Gen Z, millennials believe that companies and their leadership should be contributing positively to society. Strong corporate ethics will encourage loyalty among millennials.

A report from Deloitte found that 54% of millennials research a brand’s environmental impact and polices before accepting a job offer. To keep up with today’s candidates, it’s vital that organisations have updated employer value propositions (EVP) showcase the companies intentions to address social and environmental concerns.

In our multigenerational workplace, each generation will shape the world of work in their own way, and each will need different things from their working lives. Millennials bring commitment and collaboration to the workplace. In return, they want opportunities to grow and collaborate. Organisations that can effectively empower millennials to provide ethical leadership hold key to keeping them engaged.

To the workplace, millennials bring commitment and collaboration. What will the next generation of workers bring? Find out our top 10 predictions for what we think the working world will look like in 2030 and the best practices to prepare for the future in our Destination 2030 report.

FUTURE OF WORK

DESTINATION 2030: 10 PREDICTIONS FOR WHAT’S NEXT IN THE WORLD OF WORK

Shifting Perceptions of Tech & Digital Talent for a Leading Retailer

Shifting Perceptions of Tech & Digital Talent for a Leading Retailer

retail employer brand

Shifting Perceptions of Tech & Digital Talent for a Leading Retailer

A renowned grocery retailer turned to PeopleScout for a new employer brand and recruitment process to help them change perceptions and become an employer of choice for tech, digital and data analyst talent.

5,000 proactive searches per month on average related to software engineering on the client’s career site
13,000 views of digital, tech and data job postings per month on average
17,000 tech, digital and data pros have joined a new LinkedIn community led by the client
39 % increase in LinkedIn impressions

Situation 

With the rise of ecommerce and consumers seeking more digital experiences, this leading grocery retailer needed to shift their workforce to support web and mobile app development, data analytics, cloud computing and more. They anticipated that 50% of their new hires would go into digital, tech and data-focused roles, yet their legacy employer brand and recruitment journey was designed for volume in-store hiring. 

However, tech and digital talent couldn’t see past the shop floor. In a highly competitive and disruptive market, millennial and Gen Z digital natives simply didn’t think a retailer could match their needs or ambitions, despite the retailer’s vast capabilities and breadth of opportunities. 

The organisation turned to PeopleScout to help them evolve their employer value proposition (EVP) and employer brand so that it would speak to candidates with tech and digital skills and experience. Because of the stiff competition, the new brand had to work hard. It needed to bring their culture to life, define what was unique about the retailer and do justice to their innovation and variety of roles.  

It also had to launch within 50 days to coincide with the conclusion of the launch of a new Digital, Tech and Data business unit. 

Solution 

In response, we created a dedicated brand platform for digital, tech and data roles. This brought all these roles under one umbrella, delivering integrated solutions across the company. With this bold new direction, the client could offer greater opportunities and take a new value proposition to market. 

Curate 

It was vital to understand the motivations of our audience. What was important to them, and what could the retailer offer that was a good fit? 

To make sure we really knew our target talent’s needs and wants, we had to gain key insights from tech-focused colleagues of all levels, plus external contacts who fit the “digital native” demographic. It was also crucial to ensure all our insight came from a truly diverse pool of respondents. 

We started by conducting interviews with leaders and visionaries to establish a clear view on the current situation and strategic direction for the future. We then held focus groups with team leads across data, tech and digital, as well as a series of workshops with their teams. This gave us a clear picture that helped us shape our prototype proposition. 

Our external research consisted of in-depth interviews with DevOps specialists, software engineers and data scientists working for competitors for talent in digital, tech and data. Additionally, we surveyed potential candidates on market perception of the retailer. Our proposition was tested on all external candidates before finalising. 

Our key insights told us that external talent wanted: 

  • Challenging problems 
  • Collaborative cultures 
  • Freedom to experiment and learn 
  • A flexible work environment 
  • Training and development 
  • To see their work implemented 

We found that the client’s offering matched this head on. We needed to highlight these things in the new employer brand platform: 

  • Size, scale and complexity of challenge 
  • Values and culture 
  • Opportunities to develop 
  • Tangible impact 
  • Ability to work flexibly 

Create 

We combined our findings into employer value proposition (EVP) pillars that positioned the retailer as the perfect blend of nimble start-up with big business backing and future-facing retail giant. Using these pillars, we devised bold, exciting creative that brought our proposition to life. Steeped in the organisation’s longevity and far-reaching impact from serving 71% of the British public, the EVP focused on the journey to become a nimble tech-forward organisation that creates incredible digital experiences. 

The new platform also included a fresh colour palette, a new tone of voice and a suite of edgy, tech-inspired characters with a sense of fun to be used across all tech, digital and data branding. Derived from tech and data symbols, they served to disrupt notions of the client as a purely retail organisation. 

These creative elements were then rolled out across a huge range of recruitment tools, including a brand book, presentation roadshow, social media video content, event materials, careers pages, lanyards, PowerPoint slides, a LinkedIn channel and external media. The tech teams are even dressing their offices using the new creative, applying images of the brand characters to walls and lockers and producing large 3D brand symbols situated across various spaces.  

Community 

The brand was well received internally and externally, driving engagement and inspiring teams. In order to build buzz, we built a communications and engagement strategy to drive awareness, which also resulted in existing employees becoming brand ambassadors. 

With the brand in place, we developed a more intuitive candidate experience with a simplified application process. We also designed an email nurture program to convert interest into applications. These communications harnessed the power of our new brand ambassadors and immersed candidates in personalised content. 

The new employer brand messaging now permeates all communications coming from the division, including the specially built LinkedIn community which acts as a digital talent pool for the retailer. 

As part of the new brand launch, we ran interactive workshops and sessions to generate brand awareness at the annual Women in Data conference. This gave the client an opportunity to build relationships with women in the tech space and speak about their available opportunities to prospective candidates. 

Results 

Across LinkedIn, strong results from the launch of the brand show we’ve cut through to successfully appeal to our audience. 

In the month after the launch, the LinkedIn content garnered: 

  • 216K impressions 
  • 4,100 engagements (a 39% increase from prior to the new brand launch) 

The LinkedIn community has grown to over 17,000 followers in the three years since the launch.  

On the client’s career site, there are an average of 5,000 proactive searches per month related to software engineering, showing that the brand has been successful in positioning the retailer as an employer of choice for software development professionals. The client experiences a monthly average of 13,000 views of digital, tech and data job postings.  

In addition, over the last three years, there’s been a 66% increase in visits to the company’s digital, tech and data careers landing page.

AT A GLANCE

  • COMPANY: Leading grocery retailer
  • PEOPLESCOUT SOLUTIONS: Talent Advisory
  • LOCATIONS: 600 supermarkets, 800 convenience stores and ecommerce platforms

ESG and Life Science Recruitment: Why ESG Initiatives Will Make Your Competition Green With Envy  

A plethora of social, economic and environmental impacts are contributing to the emerging global “polycrisis.” Beyond the pandemic, the future impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and overexertion of natural resources will affect global health in the long term. This will impact the work of life science organisations as climate change is increasingly linked to diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Plus, the life science industry is among the largest carbon emitters, with biotech and pharma as the leading contributors. It’s no surprise that life science companies are focusing on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives. For talent acquisition leaders, this poses unique challenges and opportunities when it comes to life science recruitment. 

In this article, we review the industry’s impacts on the environment, how those impacts affect life science recruitment, and how a green EVP and employer brand can be leveraged as a critical differentiator in your ability to attract talent.  

Life Science’s Impacts on the Environment 

The average carbon footprint of one life scientist ranges from an estimate of four to 15 tons of CO2 per year. This doesn’t even include the use of consumables, chemicals, production resources, equipment, transportation, energy, and construction and building maintenance materials. There’s no denying that the entire industry’s workforce footprint is quite significant. 

Moreover, pharmaceutical production is highly water-intense, and waste is poorly managed with only nine out of 118 pharmaceuticals removing their waste sustainably during the treatment process. Approximately 4,000 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) are administered worldwide in prescription and over-the-counter medication as well as therapeutic and veterinary drugs. Residues from these drugs are released into the environment, contaminating the soil, rivers and lakes. With drug waste polluting the environment, the Global Leaders Group has created a call to action for all countries to improve measures for the management and disposal of antimicrobial-containing waste, declaring it as a “major threat to public health.” 

Four out of the top five (80%) global risks forecasted for the next decade are related to global health and climate change. The opportunities created by the industry to improve their environmental impact through ESG initiatives are huge.  

(Source: World Economic Forum, The Global Risks Report 2023) 

Gen Z and Millennials Care About ESG Initiatives

By 2029, Gen Z and millennials will account for 72% of the world’s workforce. This workforce has placed greater importance on ESG issues than previous generations. Considering the industry’s impact on the environment and the global force of this growing talent, millennials and Gen Z will keep the life science industry on its toes. To stay on top, it’s crucial that life science recruitment teams and hiring managers understand what this workforce wants, what they value and how these components contribute to their employment decisions. 

Around the world, young scientists are demanding that “climate justice” be at the top of the global agenda, with environmentalists stressing the need for organisations to radically reduce their carbon emissions. They are tired of politics influencing scientific decisions, slow global engagement and action, and “poor public communication concerning the state of our understanding of climate change.” 

As this talent seeks purpose in their careers, they prefer to work for employers that have set actionable ESG initiatives towards improving their sustainability efforts. Organisations with ESG practices and policies show top talent that they are purpose-driven and progressive, which is a top consideration for this younger STEM-based workforce when applying and working for your company.  

According to a study by Swytch, nearly 70% of Gen Z and millennial respondents say that a strong sustainability plan would affect their decision to stay with a company long term. About 30% of respondents report that they have left a company due to its lack of a corporate sustainability agenda with over 11% doing so more than once. Additionally, a 2023 report by KPMG UK showed that ESG initiatives are influencing employment decisions for almost 50% of UK employees, with millennials and younger workers driving the growing trend of “climate quitting” in search of more environmentally friendly jobs. 

Employers must understand that candidate attraction is more than high salaries and fancy titles. This workforce wants leaders to fearlessly and publicly take a stance on their ESG initiatives and to make it a part of the workplace culture. Failure to do so will make it difficult to attain top talent, further adding to current life science recruitment challenges due to workforce shortages and widening skills gaps. 

Intertwining Your ESG Initiatives into Your EVP and Employer Brand Strategy

With no time to waste, life science organisations need to invest in a “green” employer value proposition (EVP) and employer brand strategy.  

“Today’s labour market wants to join companies that make a difference in a real way.”

Cynthia Burkhardt, Global Head of Talent Acquisition, Kimberly-Clark 

With Gen Z and millennials viewing social and environmental responsibilities as a key differentiator when considering where to work, it’s no surprise that an employer’s ESG initiatives have become a crucial component of the life science recruitment process. Whether your organisation is already incorporating sustainable practices into your operations and mitigating risks to climate change or planning to do so, this is the opportunity to showcase that. Here are steps you can take that will appeal to your current and future workforce: 

1. Define Your ESG Voice 

Sustainability buzzwords are not enough, and top talent isn’t buying it. In fact, the European Commission’s National & Consumer Protection survey found that more than 42% of online corporate “green” claims were exaggerated, false or misleading. With “greenwashing” or “green-laundering” on the rise, employers need to establish ways to gain the trust of Gen Z and millennials. Your voice must showcase your purpose and intent. For example, using keywords like “zero discharge” and “risk mitigation,” rather than vague and misleading terminology such as “eco-friendly” or “sustainable,” will have candidates viewing you as more honest and authentic than the competition. 

“Sustainability plays a big role for me. An employer that is supposedly committed to it, but hardly knows what to do with the topic behind the scenes, has no future for me.”

Gen Z respondent from Austria 

2. Communicate Your Mission 

Build your internal and external employer brand messaging around the organisation’s ESG initiatives such as corporate sustainability efforts and climate change initiatives. Keep in mind that the internal launch of an EVP and employer branding platform plays a critical part in laying the foundation for the success of the external launch. Bring your EVP to life through transparency and stakeholder alignment. Your employer brand message must be aspirational, future-focused and agile enough to sustain any changes that may come.  

3. Weave ESG Initiatives into Your Life Science Recruitment Marketing Materials 

Incorporate your ESG-centric mission and values into your career site and explain how those objectives are part of the organisation’s DNA. On social media and other attraction channels, feature content that is relevant to topics like green training and development, environmental advocacy, waste minimisation and corporate reduction of CO2 emissions to attract a wider variety of STEM-related talent. 

4. Showcase Your Investment and Metrics 

Remember that acting on your ESG initiatives is more than providing donations or partaking in “volunteer hours” that gain you a gold star. Let candidates know how much landfill waste you’ve reduced through your recycling program or that you’ve reduced your carbon footprint by 10%. Organisations that actively monitor their social and environmental impacts yield greater candidate attraction and positive impacts to their triple bottom line.  

5. Highlight Employee and Leadership Involvement 

Leverage your employees’ passions, concerns and ideas as a compelling way to address the organisation’s initiatives. You can take the output from this to generate recruitment marketing materials, such as employee testimonials, quotes and even videos of leadership involvement or team building initiatives. For candidates, this effort exemplifies a company culture that genuinely wants to make an impact.  

6. Green Up the Candidate Experience 

Alignment of values is top priority for today’s candidates. However, it can be difficult for them to determine if a potential employer’s ethics align with theirs. To improve candidate experience, incorporate ESG initiatives into your job descriptions. For example, call attention to how the role will help achieve sustainability initiatives and feature any employee green benefits like locally sourced perks or green travel packages.  

Most importantly, make sure your recruiters and hiring team are aware of your green values. According to HRD Australia, often times the hiring team is not well-informed on what the company is doing in these areas. A life science recruitment team that is aligned with the organisation’s ESG initiatives will ensure smooth communication and a good first impression with potential candidates. 

Can You Keep Up? 

With Gen Z and millennials shaping the future of work, employers cannot afford to trail behind the curve when it comes to ESG. Additionally, as early-career candidates and graduates are a top source for talent in the life science industry, organisations that do not have visible and measurable ESG metrics risk alienating this top talent. Focus on incorporating your ESG initiatives into your organisation’s EVP, tweak your employer brand messaging to reflect what your workforce wants.

Digital Talent Demands: A Guide for Talent Leaders

The demand for skilled tech and digital talent is growing at an unprecedented rate in response to the emergence of new technologies, making the competition for talent as tight as ever, with both tech and non-tech companies vying for the same qualified candidates. For the tech sector, it’s a time of transformation. For non-tech organizations, it’s a golden opportunity to fill their technical skills gaps. But for any employer looking to attract top digital talent, it is essential to first understand what candidates are looking for in a new employer.  

In this article, we explore the opportunity for non-tech organizations and offer insights into what tech and digital professionals are looking for in a new employer.  

Plenty of Demand Despite Tech Sector Shifts 

The tumultuous labor market and recent economic landscape have been a rollercoaster for all HR leaders, but those in the tech sector have experienced particularly high highs and low lows. Recent layoffs at tech companies are being categorized as a “course correction” by many publications, and it seems the “growth-at-all-costs” attitude has finally caught up with tech organizations. Over 160,000 professionals were laid off in 2022 according to Layoffs.fyi, with additional cuts taking place in 2023.  

Yet, despite this, demand for tech talent remains high. Over 375,000 tech jobs remain unfilled in the U.S. according to the Dice Tech Job Report. In Australia, tech jobs grew more than twice as fast as the average employment rate in the last decade. In the UK, 41% of companies expect to hire for technical skills in 2023. 

The Tech & Digital Talent Diaspora 

This demand is being primarily driven by traditional companies, rather than software companies or other tech organizations. In fact, the majority of people in tech occupations (59%) don’t work in the tech sector

In our digital-first world, every company—from apparel brands to car insurance companies—has tech at the heart of their business as they develop mobile apps and ecommerce consumer experiences. In fact, the biggest and fastest-growing industries for tech professionals are finance, manufacturing and healthcare as these sectors increasingly digitize their operations. 

The ratio of tech and digital workers employed outside of the tech industry will continue to grow. Many workers recently laid off from Big Tech firms have highly sought-after skills, creating an opportunity for more traditional organizations to land tech and digital talent. 

Graph showing which industries tech and digital talent are moving into.

Will Former Tech Workers Re-Evaluate Their Options? 

Given the extent of the downsizing in the tech sector, many workers will think twice about going back to a tech company in the future. Traditional employers, that previously couldn’t compete against the high salaries and quirky perks that Big Tech could provide, now have more to offer tech workers—including stability. 

Tech workers are trading the excitement of startups for the steadiness of more traditional employers. The unpredictable nature and funding rollercoasters of tech firms have left many tech professionals seeking a saner pace. As traditional companies embrace AI, blockchain and cybersecurity, workers who have left the tech sector can still leverage their tech and digital skill sets, but with a greater sense of security.  

What Do Tech and Digital Talent Want? 

When they’re ready for growth again, Big Tech will have to rethink their approach to engaging tech talent and attracting them back to the industry. So, what do tech and digital workers want from their employer and their job? Here are three top considerations that organizations across sectors should focus on to attract and retain tech and digital talent.  

Flexibility & Work/Life Balance 

Many tech workers who experienced the fast pace and intense work culture of startups now find themselves burnt out and are prioritizing more work/life balance. Flexible contracts and remote working are important to tech workers, with 29% citing flexibility as a top priority when looking for a job. Yet, 48% of tech sector employees said that they were feeling pressure from their employer to come into the office more often. 

Recent Gallup analysis shows that employee engagement is lowest among on-site employees, with the biggest dip seen among employees who are capable of working remotely but are required to be on site. Flexibility is not just a perk to offer employees; it should be viewed as a critical way to increase productivity. Organizations can reap the benefits of flexibility in the workplace by continuously monitoring their flexible work program and addressing any challenges experienced by employees or hiring managers.  

What tech and digital talent want

Digital Skills Development  

No one is more aware of the speed of technological advancement than tech and digital workers. And this can lead to anxiety. In fact, 29% of digital employees globally believe their skill set is redundant now or will be in the next one to two years, and 38% believe their skills will be obsolete in the next four to five years. 

In terms of retaining digital talent, investing in training and upskilling programs is crucial for all organizations. Over half of digital talent (55%) say they’re willing to change employers if they feel their skills are stagnating in their current role. Plus, 58% say they would gravitate to organizations that offer better tech and digital skills development. 

With an abundance of job opportunities available, these employees won’t hesitate to find an employer that will invest in their career development. So it’s concerning that only 27% of employees said their organization had plenty of opportunities in place to help them to learn new skills. Learning and development programs are not only an important part of retaining talent with tech and digital skill sets but can also be an effective way to attract talent.  

Start with a skills audit and compare the findings to your business roadmap. By uncovering the areas where your workforce needs the most training, you can then take steps to develop an upskilling program. For example, PeopleScout worked with a longstanding UK financial services RPO client to lead a reskilling program to help the client evaluate their customer service staff in bank branches and call centers to find candidates for their tech skilling program. We were able to identify over 1,000 employees who are now participating in a 12-month “bootcamp” to build digital and tech skills and move into new careers within the organization. 

Meaningful Work  

Organizations must find out how to communicate their employer value proposition (EVP) in a way that resonates with digital talent. Make sure your attraction content emphasizes the give and get for people in tech roles at your organization including learning and growth opportunities, your tech innovations and projects, well-being initiatives and more. Plus, more and more candidates are paying attention to organizational values and mission. If they can’t determine if their personal values are aligned with the company’s mission, they won’t apply.  

EVP is not all about attraction, but also about employee retention. From a retention perspective, it’s crucial that employers continue to showcase how you’re investing in your employees beyond compensation and benefits. This helps to boost feelings of engagement and to build loyalty. 

As the pace of digital transformation accelerates, it is difficult to envisage a company attaining its full potential without a strong foundation of tech and digital talent. Demand for this crucial part of the workforce won’t let up soon. It’s mission critical for organizations to understand what makes this group tick in order to attract, hire and retain tech talent. To get more strategies for attracting and hiring tech and digital proessionals, download our Recruitment Handbook for Tech & Digital Talent.

Recruitment Handbook for Tech & Digital Talent

Breaking DE&I Barriers in Life Science: Tips to Build & Recruit a Diverse Workforce

Over 20 years ago, the U.S. Congress passed the Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act, or the Healthcare Fairness Act, to address national issues such as the increasing need for a diverse workforce. With focus on the life sciences, it stated, “There is a national need for minority scientists in the fields of biomedical, clinical, behavioural, and health services research.” Yet, underrepresented populations are still the largest “untapped STEM talent pools in the United States.” 

Black and Hispanic individuals remain underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce. Plus, women remain underrepresented in fields like physical sciences, computing and engineering. Moreover, organisations in Europe are struggling to find and retain women in STEM. According to Eurostat, female scientists and engineers remain a minority in STEM roles, and despite increases over the past decade, women still make up only 16.5% of engineers in the UK. 

For life science organisations, the lack of minorities and women in STEM fields and the sector overall will present long-term challenges in cultivating a workforce that will help them remain competitive in our increasingly diverse and interconnected world. 

However, it seems there hasn’t been much progress made in the 20+ years since the Healthcare Fairness Act. So, how can life science organisations make a difference in creating more diversity in life science careers? Keep reading to learn more about the DE&I challenges and opportunities for life science employers. 

Life Science’s Lack of a Diverse Workforce

Diversity is lacking across the entire life science industry, from research to clinical work. According to the U.S. National Science Foundation, the representation of minority ethnic groups in the science fields must more than double to match the groups’ overall share of the U.S. population. In fact, 65% of the U.S. workforce in life science are white, 19% are Asian, 8% are Hispanic and only 6% are Black. 

Being a future-focused employer requires investment in building diverse and inclusive teams. Bringing underrepresented groups into your organisation provides a full range of benefits and skills to drive innovation. The issue is particularly pressing as the industry undergoes a wave of transformation due to the disruption of tech—further widening the current skills gap.  

Additionally, diversity in leadership will help you boost retention and attract talent. With 85% of life science employees who identify as a minority saying they are ‘hugely underrepresented’ in senior roles, the lack of diverse leadership representation could be detrimental to your organisation. It could affect your bottom line and further hinder your ability to attain those highly competitive, in-demand skills (like data analytics and computer programming) needed within the industry.  

Diversity in Life Science

Furthermore,  Informa Connect conducted one of the largest industry employee research reports to date, which surveyed life science professionals around the world about their opinions on diversity and inclusion in the industry. When asked what the industry’s biggest problem is pertaining to having an inclusive and diverse workforce, over a third of respondents named the lack of representation of minorities in leadership roles. 

Gender Inequality in Life Science

Due to the lack of women in STEM careers, life science employers struggle to attract women to R&D roles. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), 70% of global researchers are men. This creates problems for life science employers as both female life science professionals (65%) and male professionals (59%) believe women are under-represented overall. It doesn’t help that, although women make up almost half (48%) of life science workers, men still out-earn women by 13%.

Diversity in Life Science

Why is Diversity in Life Science so Important? 

Although there are clear disparities around representation of minorities and women in life science, only 23% of organisations are giving significant focus to DE&I and only 13% are financially investing in diverse groups.  Organisations that aren’t prioritising DE&I will struggle to cope with the industry’s current talent shortage. The lack of diversity puts organisations at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. 

In our recent research report, candidates say that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers. This is even more important for candidates from underrepresented groups. In Biospace’s latest report, 93% of women of color responded that they believe diversity is important when considering a job. Investing in DE&I-focused talent acquisition strategies, programs and training creates a huge opportunity for life science organisations to grow a diverse and productive workforce. 

A diverse and inclusive work environment builds trust, increases engagement and improves business outcomes.  

Organisations with strong “diversity climates” have increased employee job satisfaction and employee retention as well as financial returns above national industry medians. Companies with above-average diversity scores report nearly 20% higher revenue due to innovation.  

Moreover, diversity provides many benefits for improved organisational performance and productivity such as:  

  • Broader range of skills and experience  
  • Multilingualism to support global growth 
  • Increased cultural competence and awareness 

Diverse workforces, including cognitively diverse teams, leverage a greater variety of perspectives to solve problems faster with improved accuracy. According to the International Labor Organisation, when companies establish inclusive business cultures and policies, they experience a nearly 60% increase in creativity, innovation and openness. 

For example, the majority of the western world’s research uses tissue and blood from white individuals to screen drugs and therapies that are developed for a more diverse population. However, different ethnic groups experience different outcomes from various treatments, methods and diseases. A diverse workforce, especially in biomedical science and pharmaceuticals, would more likely push for inclusion in research and testing and provide different perspectives that could lead to new insights and discoveries. 

Strategies for Attracting, Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce in Life Science 

Creating a diverse and inclusive work environment can be challenging, but here are some proven steps for attracting top diverse talent and establishing equitable recruitment practices. 

1. Focus on Employer Branding  

Show diversity as part of your organisation’s DNA by articulating a compelling EVP and employer brand that clearly defines and establishes your organisational commitment to DE&I. Building your internal and external employer brand messaging gives you greater influence over what you are known for, how you are perceived by candidates and the value that you offer to your employees. Make sure your recruitment marketing materials are relevant to a variety of audiences with imagery and content that highlights diversity in race, gender and more. Plus, showcasing real employees adds a layer of authenticity to your employer brand.  

2. Update Your Career Site 

After viewing a job post, a candidate’s first point of contact is usually your career site. It’s crucial that your career site shows your DE&I efforts. Sharing diversity goals publicly and transparently is an important way for candidates to experience your organisational values and mission.  

3. Keep Job Listings Simple  

Plain language is especially important if you want to reach diverse populations. Use verbiage that your candidate would use rather than your internal terminology and assess your job ads for biased language. Avoid verbiage like “expert,” “rockstar” or “like a family” that are often masculine and project a homogeneous work culture that prioritises like-minded thinking over diversity. Additionally, remove any experience or skills that are “nice-to-have” in your job descriptions, and keep in mind that men and women value different things. For example, while men usually prioritise compensation, most women see work-life balance as their number one priority. 

4. Go Beyond Your Careers Site 

Elevate your sourcing strategy by:  

  • Optimising your reach by posting on relevant job boards and platforms. Don’t forget that professional networking groups, like the Black Healthcare and Medical Association, are great resources to get your job ads in front of the right people.  
  • Establish relationships with STEM-based programs at universities, alumni associations and other networking groups that cater to diverse populations. 
  • Get your internal teams involved by asking for referrals. Diverse employees are often connected with diverse candidates. 

In doing so, you cast a wider net to reach a larger pool of diverse candidates, maximising your chances of growing your workforce. 

5. Representation Matters 

During the interview stage, make sure candidates see how much you value diversity by having a diverse panel of interviewers. When a candidate sees someone who looks like themselves or another minority when being interviewed, it creates a sense of belonging and reaffirms your company’s mission to establish a diverse culture. Additionally, make sure your hiring panel has received diversity training and can successfully communicate with those that think differently and have unique backgrounds or working styles. 

6. Invest in Diversity Training 

Through diversity training, you can help change systematic diversity hurdles—such as your organisation’s hiring practices and how diverse talent is sourced as well as taking action to increase diversity at the board or leadership level.  

“Companies need to acknowledge the unique needs and contributions of employees with multiple historically excluded identities.”

Yaro Fong-Olivare, Executive director of Bentley University’s Center for Women and Business (CWB)

Diversity training programs are not a one-size-fits-all solution and come in various training types, which can be customised to help achieve your organisation’s goals. Diversity training helps employees feel a sense of belonging, so they are more likely to stay with an organisation, which can improve your retention rates. 

7. Enable Talent Acquisition Technology and Track Your Efforts 

To build a diverse candidate pipeline, it’s critical that you engage cutting-edge technology and analytics tools to know where your diverse candidates are coming from, how they’re progressing through the recruitment process, and which of your sourcing channels or campaigns brought them to you. Although these insights are often stored in different systems and platforms, a comprehensive reporting tool can help synthesise your data and visualise trends.  

For example, PeopleScout’s Affinix™ brings together applicant tracking systems (ATS), candidate relationship management (CRM) systems, artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital marketing, predictive analytics and digital interviewing to provide award winning innovation to support your organisation’s diverse hiring goals. Affinix Analytics’ diversity dashboards show how diverse candidates are entering your pipeline in real time. By tracking how candidates progress through your funnel, you can determine which resources and campaigns bring in top candidates from underrepresented groups. From there, you can analyse the results, identify hiring trends, adjust sourcing spend and strategy to make data-driven decisions. 

Conclusion 

Building an inclusive and diverse workforce doesn’t start and end with just hiring underrepresented groups, it requires an entire organisational shift. In order for the life sciences industry to maintain leadership and competitiveness in science and medical advancement, it’s crucial that organisations invest in building a strong and diverse talent pipeline. Everyone from the C-Suite to hiring managers has an important part to play in achieving DE&I goals and shrinking the industry’s growing workforce gaps.

The Multigenerational Workforce: Gen Z in the Workplace

To continue our series, The Multigeneration Workforce, this article explores the challenges and opportunities of Gen Z in the workplace. For the first time in modern history, four generations are working side-by-side: Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z. The ratios will change over the coming years—and so will each group’s level of influence.  

Gen Z is overtaking Baby Boomers as the largest generation history, boasting an incredible two billion people globally, and is set to become the largest demographic in the workplace by the end of the decade. Leaders must not underestimate the impact this generation’s ideas and perspective will have on the world and the workplace. By understanding their needs and preferences, you can attract, engage and hire the best Gen Z talent to propel your workforce into the future. 

Who is Gen Z? 

While sources vary, Gen Z is generally defined as the generation born approximately between 1995 and 2010. They are the first generation to grow up with the internet and social media and have come of age in a time marked by 9/11, polarised politics, economic fluctuations and climate woes. They watched their parents lose jobs during the Great Recession. Then, they experienced the biggest educational and workplace disruption in modern history as COVID-19 lockdowns led to their classes moving online, a surge in unemployment and psychological distress.  

As voracious consumers and creators of digital media, they focus on curating their online presence and have developed an “unapologetically me” ideology. As a result, they are generally socially progressive and value diversity.  

Perhaps ironically, growing up in this hyperconnected online world has also fuelled feelings of isolation and loneliness among many Gen Z-ers. Seeing friends posting content and having fun (cue the #FOMO), alongside the pressure to keep on top of social trends, can make the feelings of disconnection even more acute, leading to increases in depression and anxiety.

Gen Z in the workplace

What Matters to Gen Z in the Workplace? 

Gen Z-ers have different expectations and priorities than previous generations of workers. They’ve expressed less loyalty than past cohorts and are more pragmatic. They don’t assume they’ll have a social safety net upon retirement since seeing layoffs and pensions shrinking.  

Here are some more characteristics to look out for when hiring Gen Z candidates. 

Fighting for Social Change  

After witnessing the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements as well as the increased frequency of natural disasters due to climate change, Gen Z is seeking employment that matches their personal values. They believe in their ability to make a difference individually and are also demanding that employers do their part to help build a better future.  

LinkedIn released a global study of nearly 10,000 professionals which found that 68% of workers in the UK, France, Germany and Ireland consider it important to work for companies that are aligned with their values. In the U.S., it’s higher at 87%. Gen Z is driving this shift, with nearly 90% in Europe saying they would leave a job to work somewhere that better matches their values.  

Digitally Native but Digitally Unsure 

Growing up with access to the internet and mobile devices has led to a widespread presumption that Gen Z-ers are innately good with tech. However, new research shows this may not be the case at work.  

One in five of the 18-to-29-year-olds polled in HP’s Hybrid Work: Are We There Yet? report said they felt judged when experiencing technical issues in the workplace. Furthermore, this “tech shame” leads 25% of young professionals to actively avoid participating in a meeting if they think it will expose their tech shortcomings.  

Generation Disenchanted? 

Much has been said about the number of older workers taking early retirement, but the biggest rise in inactivity since the pandemic has not been among Baby Boomers, but workers aged between 18 and 24. In the UK, the share of workers in this age group classed as economically inactive—meaning they’re not actively working or looking for a job—stood at a record high of 32% in the second quarter of 2022. Plus, of those who are students or currently unemployed, 1 in 10 said they never intend to start working.  

In a rejection of the “girlboss” and “hustle culture”, the hashtag #IDontDreamOfLabor has taken off as a platform for Gen Z to speak candidly about their rejection of work as the basis for identity, framing it instead as a financial necessity for paying the bills. In the shadow of the Great Resignation, Gen Z is vocal about the role of work in their lives—sometimes to viral acclaim. Some have taken to TikTok to coach their peers on how to negotiate salaries, which red flags to look out for in the interview process and how to stick up for what they want at work.  

The formative experience of the Great Recession combined with entering the workforce during the pandemic has taught young people that hard work doesn’t necessarily guarantee stability. They want better than what their parents had and aren’t shy about demanding more from their employers. Organisations who can navigate these expectations will win the hearts of Generation Z. 

Gen Z at work

Strategies for Engaging Gen Z at Work

To help Gen Z workers become as productive and successful as possible, employers need to showcase their values and offer a combination of ongoing wellbeing support and robust skills training.  

1. Evaluate Your Employer Brand for Gen Z 

As most young people seeking employment with a company they can believe in, it’s important to build an employer brand that resonates with Gen Z values. In the recent global study, Inside the Candidate Experience, PeopleScout found that the top things Gen Z job seekers look for when evaluating a job are: 

  1. Mission and purpose 
  1. Flexible working and work/life balance 
  1. DE&I; Company culture (tied) 

With mission and purpose as the top factor for Gen Z job seekers, it’s surprising how few organisations include this information on their career websites. On the sites we examined, we found an organisation’s mission and purpose less than half (48%) of the time. This means that half of companies are passing up an opportunity to engage emotionally with their young talent audiences and assist prospects in understanding how the job they have applied for fits into that goal. Candidates won’t look at your open roles if they can’t identify your mission on your careers site. 

2. Embrace Social Media  

Despite concern over how much Gen Z-ers use and consume social media, it is their main way of staying connected, so it is imperative for employers to have a strong presence on social. Two-thirds of candidates use social media to research companies during their job search. Yet, a third of employers are not posting career related content (above and beyond job listings) to their social channels at least once a week.  

Favourite social platforms for Gen Z include TikTok, Instagram and YouTube—so consider creating video content to engage talent from this generation. “Day in the life” videos are a great way to provide a realistic job preview and show early careers talent what it’s like to work at your organisation. 

3. Showcase Your DE&I Efforts 

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is a top consideration for Gen Z candidates when looking for a job, and they’ll be scrutinising any employer to separate lip service from authentic DE&I action. When candidates from underrepresented groups are searching for jobs, the right job title might be enough to get them to click on a posting—but whether they actually apply is influenced by what they read and hear about how an organisation treats its people.  

Representation matters, and employers who showcase employees across a range of demographics show candidates that people from diverse backgrounds can flourish at their organisation. Ensure your recruitment communications include voices and stories from underrepresented groups at all levels of the organisation.  

Employers should also strive for transparency with their diversity recruitment data and share any plans they have in place to shift the dial around representation. Then, when candidates from underrepresented groups encounter similar voices throughout the recruitment process, they’ll realise that not only are they welcome at the organisation, but they’ll also have the opportunity to thrive and progress.  

4. Offer Employee Mental Wellness Benefits 

Growing up entirely in the digital age has undeniably had an impact on how this generation interacts with others. With fewer in-person exchanges, some 37% of Gen Z feels worried that technology weakens their ability to maintain strong interpersonal relationships and develop people skills. Living in a world of non-stop communication through apps and social media also contributes to mental health conditions like anxiety. The strain of modern living on mental health has been further exacerbated by the pandemic and lockdown life. 

Gen Z-ers are proud advocates for mental health, sharing their experiences and removing the stigma around depression and anxiety. According to Cigna International Health’s 2023 survey of almost 12,000 workers around the world, 91% of 18-to-24-year-olds report being stressed. And they’re looking for support from their employer. A whopping 92% of university students say employers should offer mental well-being benefits, and more than a third (36%) are prioritising those who do as they start their careers. 

Employee assistance programs, employee resource groups and workplace mental health training are all ways employers are creating a culture that promotes mental health and wellbeing. Gen Z will be drawn to employers who are joining the conversation around mental health and creating a safe space to raise and address these issues. 

5. Highlight Growth Opportunities for Gen Z

Worryingly, 37% of young people say their education did not adequately prepare them with the technology skills they need for their career. This digital native generation is lacking in the digital literacy most organisations need to fuel future innovation.  

Gen Z is prioritising employers who demonstrate investment in developing their employees’ skills and career paths. Employers who highlight training, mentoring and professional development programs in their recruitment materials will satisfy Gen Z’s ambition and desire to grow.  

Training for new Gen Z joiners should centre around soft skills like resilience, relationship building and empathy, enabling people from this cohort to manage their own stress levels effectively and to understand when and how they should ask for help. Face-to-face support and mentoring programs are a core elements of training for Gen Z in the workplace. Mentoring and reverse mentoring are being widely embraced by organisations across industries, enabling more senior employees to share their experience with the younger generation to counteract skills gaps, while also tapping into the knowledge and insights of Gen Z in the areas of social trends and digital media.  

Gen Z in the Workplace: Embracing Positive Change 

As organisations plan for the future of work, they must work harder to appeal to the savvy Generation Z-ers entering the workforce. While most employers understand the importance of inclusivity and ethical decision-making, this generation will hold them accountable to putting those principles into action. Employers must embrace these values and the positive changes brought by Gen Z in the workplace. Talent acquisition leaders should keep their finger on the pulse of how these young workers will shape how we hire and develop talent in the coming decades. 

Check out our report to learn more about the future of work:

Future of Work

DESTINATION 2030: 10 PREDICTIONS FOR WHAT’S NEXT IN THE WORLD OF WORK

5 Career Site Must-Haves to Improve the Candidate Experience

By Simon Wright, Global Head of Talent Advisory Consulting

Your career site is a one-stop shop where candidates can learn about your organisation, evaluate your employer value proposition (EVP), and find opportunities. It’s not enough to simply list your job openings. Candidates are savvier than ever and want to be informed about your organisation before they apply.

Your career site is a crucial resource for candidates as they research your organisation and roles, playing a pivotal role in the candidate experience. For our recent research report, Inside the Candidate Experience, we audited the candidate journey—including the career sites—of 217 organisations across sectors. When we compared the findings with candidate survey data, we found that many career sites were lacking when it comes to providing the experience candidates expected.

In our Talent Advisory work with companies around the world, we often find that organisations seem to be under the impression that candidates visit the career site just once—to submit an application. In reality, we see candidates come back again and again throughout the recruitment process—usually before an interview and again when they receive an offer. Modern candidates, who are used to social media and e-commerce experiences, think of your career site as a content hub rather than a brochure—and you should too.

Here are five career site must-haves to create a positive candidate experience:

1. Intuitive Career Site Search Functionality

The first rule of career sites is to ensure that job openings are easy to find. That means ensuring your job descriptions can be found via Google and that your career site is easy to access from your corporate website. But it goes further—are your job openings searchable on your career site? Can your job listings be accessed from everywhere on your career site?

Candidate expectations are increasingly fueled by consumer experiences. So, employers should take a page from the e-commerce book and streamline career site experiences by offering relevant job searches. This means candidates can navigate quickly and easily to the types of roles that interest them. We’ve helped our clients up-level their job postings by featuring relevant content for certain jobs, including employee spotlights for someone who’s currently in the role and even recommending similar positions that the candidate may be interested in.

Search doesn’t just apply to your job openings. Does your site have a universal search accessible from every page? To satisfy today’s informed candidates, you must make it as easy as possible for candidates to find the content that matters to them—whether it’s information on your benefits, your sustainability statement, or your DE&I efforts.

Careers Sites

2. Information About Your Organisations’ Mission and Purpose

Historically, candidates have given rewards and benefits priority when it comes to their career decisions. However, our study confirms a change in candidate expectations following the pandemic, with more value placed on flexibility and organisational philosophy.

The top things candidates look for when evaluating a company are:

  1. Flexible working and work/life balance
  2. Mission/purpose
  3. Rewards and benefits
  4. Career development and mobility
  5. Company values

Half (50%) of candidates say an organisation’s mission and purpose are key influences on their decision to apply. This is true across generations not, just for Gen Z.

Top Considerations by Generation

With mission/purpose in the top five considerations for job seekers, it’s concerning how few organisations have this information on their career websites. We found an organisation’s mission and purpose less than half (48%) of the time on the sites we evaluated. This means that half of employers are missing an opportunity to make an emotional connection with their talent audiences and help candidates understand how the role they have applied for fits into that mission. If candidates can’t find your mission on your careers site, they won’t even look at the roles you’ve got.

You might be thinking, we’ve got that on our corporate website. Can’t we just link to it there? As soon as you send a candidate away from your career site, they’re less likely to come back to apply. Streamline the candidate experience by giving candidates the information they want in the same place where they can submit an application.

3. Content Featuring Real Employees

During our diagnostic, we evaluated career sites to see if a diverse group of real employees was represented. We found that 35% of organisations don’t feature real employees on their career site. In addition, 60% of career sites don’t contain any video content in which employees share their personal journeys and stories.

Yet, when asked how hearing from actual employees would affect their job search, 86% of respondents said they value hearing employee stories. This is especially important to Baby Boomers with 92% saying it would influence their decision to join an organisation. Plus, one in three women also believe it’s critical.

Videos that show a diverse range of employees in their real work environment help candidates see themselves in the role and at your organisation. The number one obstacle for candidates when it comes to applying is not knowing what it’s like to work at an organisation. So, brands that can show candidates what their day-to-day tasks will look like in a role will see more applications and higher-quality candidates.

4. Information on the Recruitment Process

Setting expectations and giving advice on the recruitment process after you’ve piqued a candidate’s interest is an often-overlooked way of improving the number and quality of applications you receive. If candidates are unsure of what they’re getting themselves into from the start, they will likely pass over your position entirely.

In our candidate experience diagnostic, we found that information about the recruitment process was lacking. Only 13% of employers offer candidates the opportunity to speak to a recruiter or current employee before applying. Just a third of career sites (34%) featured frequently asked questions (FAQs) or advice to support candidates throughout the process (31%).

Less than a third (28%) of the career sites we assessed gave an overview of the key stages of the recruiting process. This information can help set realistic expectations for candidates, reduce their anxiety during the recruitment process and reduce drop-off. Plus, outlining the steps of the candidate journey has the added benefit of making your recruitment process more accessible to hard-to-reach talent groups, supporting your brand’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Careers Sites, Application

5. An Opportunity to Join Your Talent Community

As consumers, we’re accustomed to subscribing to offers and news from our favorite brands. Sharing tailored content via marketing automation tools is a simple, yet effective way companies build engagement with prospective customers until they’re ready to buy. Talent acquisition leaders can use a similar approach in their recruitment efforts.

Concerningly, only half of organisations (53%) give candidates an opportunity to register their interest or to sign up for job alerts. Even fewer (39%) encouraged candidates to join a talent community. So, you could be unknowingly turning away talented candidates if you don’t provide a channel for staying in contact with your company. When new roles come up, your talent pool of qualified candidates should be your first port of call.

Candidates wait an average of nine months between joining a talent community and applying for a job. So, maintaining talent pools and communicating with them regularly allows you to demonstrate to candidates what they are missing by keeping them warm until the right job becomes available. These communications should go beyond the standard job updates in order to showcase the value of your employer brand and what they’ll gain by joining your team. Organisations that can successfully implement this strategy will outperform the competition in securing top talent.

Research Report

INSIDE THE CANDIDATE EXPERIENCE 2023

5 Essential Elements of a Positive Candidate Experience

By David Macfarlane, Head of Employer Brand and Insight

Candidates have never had higher expectations. They are more well informed than ever, and today’s candidate-led market means they’re less tolerant of poor experiences. With 83% of candidates sharing their poor experiences with friends and family, and 54% taking to social media to voice their discontent, organisations who create a positive candidate experience will achieve better recruitment outcomes.

Yet, in our recent research report, Inside the Candidate Experience, we found that the gap between what candidates want and what they get still remains wide—but it can be made smaller. While there is no such thing as a perfect recruitment process, improving the candidate experience will improve your organisation’s ability to attract and hire great talent.

Through our work with some of the world’s largest brands, we’ve distilled the candidate experience into these five essential elements.

Research Report

Inside the Candidate Experience

A best-in-class candidate experience:

1. Is Differentiated from Competitors

Your candidate experience should set you apart from other employers at every stage of the candidate journey. In addition to being a crucial component of the hiring process, the candidate experience serves as a sales tool that persuades top talent to join your organisation.

Your candidate experience should be unique to your brand and help you stand apart from other employers hiring for similar roles or skills. For example, does your situational judgement test put the candidate in the work environment they’re applying to join? For candidates, the pre-employment experience is a test drive for what it’s like to work at your organisation, so make sure you’re bringing what makes your culture exceptional to your candidate experience.

2. Elevates the Employer Brand

Your candidate experience should be distinct from your consumer experience by reflecting your employer brand—the perception and lived experience of what it’s like to work for your organisation. That means all of your candidate communications should be branded—not just with your logo and brand colours, but it should be written in a way that reflects your culture.

Your tone of voice, your career site, your photography and design should all reflect what it’s like to work at your organisation. For example, for our client, The AA, we created AAbot, a chatbot with expressive animations and cheeky banter that brings The AA’s playful personality to life. By seeing your employer brand reflected consistently across each interaction with your organisation, candidates gain confidence in your employer value proposition.

positive candidate experience

3. Is Informative, Clear and Direct

Candidates want to know upfront what to expect during the application and recruitment process before they apply. Yet, our research found that only a third of organisations (34%) had career sites that featured frequently asked questions (FAQs) or advice to support candidates throughout the candidate journey (31%). Less than a third (28%) gave an overview of the key stages of the recruiting process.

This is about delivering the right message at the right time in the right way to help them understand where they stand and what happens next. Plus, you should express this information in plain language. Make sure you’re using verbiage that your candidate would use rather than your internal terminology. A candidate looking for a hotel job is more likely to search for “housekeeper” than “environmental services engineer.”

4. Embraces Technology

Increasingly, employers are taking a page from the consumer experiences created by e-commerce brands. Many organisations are embracing social media tools (like the one-click apply option on LinkedIn) to increase the simplicity and convenience of applications.

At the very minimum your application should be mobile optimised. But really, with over 90% of candidates using a mobile device in their job search, your candidate experience should be designed for mobile first.

A mobile-first application means the candidate doesn’t have to fill in information contained in their CV. This may seem basic, but we found that nearly 40% of organisations ask candidates to duplicate information that was already contained in their résumé or CV.

In our modern world, a great candidate experience means a candidate can submit an application while standing in a queue—with one hand, via their mobile phone—before they’ve reached the front. Can your current tech stack do this?

5. Puts Candidates in the Driver’s Seat

Something that many talent acquisition teams don’t appreciate is that candidates don’t perceive the recruitment process as a funnel. They’re the main character in their own story, and they want to be treated that way.

Candidates want to engage in their job search on their own terms. So, anytime they encounter a roadblock to getting the information they want, especially if they don’t know what to expect in the next stage, means they’re more likely to drop out of your process. By creating transparency within your recruitment stages, you empower candidates to opt in or out from recruitment process—ultimately improving your hiring outcomes.  

For more insights into create a positive candidate experience, download the Inside the Candidate Experience 2023 Report.

Inside the Candidate Experience: 3 Revelations from Our 2023 Report

By Simon Wright, Global Head of Talent Advisory

When it comes to applying for and accepting new jobs, candidates have more options than ever before. Companies with poor candidate experiences will lose out on the top talent as employers battle for the best prospects.

So, how does the average candidate experience stack up against candidate expectations?

According to PeopleScout’s most recent research, less than two in 10 candidates rate their experience as excellent.

For the Inside the Candidate Experience 2023 Report, we used our proprietary Candidate Experience Diagnostic to audit the candidate journeys of over 215 organisations worldwide. Then we compared this to data gathered via a global survey of over 2,400 job seekers.

Research report

Inside the candidate experience 2023 report

The findings reveal a significant gap between candidate expectations and the reality they face while looking for jobs, gathering information to support their decision, and applying.

Here are three surprises from our research:

1. Less than half of employers show information about the organisation’s mission, purpose or values on the career site

Yet, they’re in the top considerations for applicants when deciding to apply.

Your takeaway:

Candidates want fulfilling employment and a company that upholds their values—especially Gen Z and Millennial workers. In fact, one in five Millennials state that an organisation’s goals and mission are their top priority when considering a job. By not featuring this information on your career site, you’re passing up an opportunity to create an emotional connection with your candidates.

2. Just half (53%) of organisations provide an opportunity for candidates to register their interest or to sign up for job alerts

Even fewer (39%) prompted candidates to join a talent community.

Your takeaway:

Modern job seekers are more sophisticated than ever and are looking to grow a career, not just apply for jobs transactionally. In fact, on average nine months goes by between a candidate engaging with an employer and applying for a job. Maintaining a talent pipeline lets you build a relationship with your talent audience and ensures you get the best talent, not just those who are looking at the time a vacancy arises.

3. 44% of organisations did not provide an opportunity for candidates to give feedback on their experience

Plus, men are more likely than women to be aware of opportunities to provide and receive feedback during the recruitment process.

Your takeaway:

This is a major oversight for many organisations. If you’re not leveraging surveys to gather feedback from all of your candidates, you are passing up valuable insights that might help you enhance your employer brand, lower attrition and shorten your hiring cycle.

The candidate experience is a hot topic, and most talent leaders I speak with appear to recognise the value of improving the candidate journey. However, this research demonstrates that organisations still have work to do to live up to the standards of today’s job seekers. My hope is that our recent findings will mobilise talent acquisition teams to put real action behind their words and make bold moves to improve their candidate experience and speed up the pace of progress.

To get the full research and more actionable insights, download the Inside the Candidate Experience 2023 Report.