Why Individualism Is the New Recruitment Language

The world according to job seekers has changed. From figuring out what they have to offer a prospective employer, the weight is shifting to employers to showcase just what they can offer prospective applicants.

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Whether you’ve noticed yet or not, the world according to job seekers has changed. Gone are the days of employees considering what they can offer to their employers, instead the weight has shifted to what an employer has to offer a prospective employee. 

In the aftermath of a global pandemic, supply chain issues, Brexit and global conflict, the landscape of recruitment and retention has changed significantly. How we view our work life balance has shifted, expectations have evolved and employees have re-evaluated what they need and want from their working environment. How this has manifested in practice is felt in the relationship between job seeker and employer and a notable shift in the attitude of the former towards the latter. Now, rather than prioritising community goals and focusing on maximising their own offering, candidates are looking to companies to prove what it is they stand for. What it is they can offer. Candidates want to know why they should even consider applying for a position and importantly what is it about the role and the company culture that aligns with their own values and goals?

This quarter’s CIPD Conference in Manchester looked at just this issue and underlined the importance for employers to invest in the employee experience in order to stay ahead in today’s competitive market.


Understanding what the candidate really wants from your organisation, good internal communications and investing in a strong employer brand will help you secure the best talent”

– Emma Murray

So what can companies do to flex around these changing expectations? Doing so requires some bravery, a commitment not simply to edit current practices but to be prepared to completely reimagine your employee experience. To learn, rethink and put into place real changes that respond to the needs of a new generation of talent.

Build on care and recognition

The challenge of recent years have included numerous catalysts for insecurity and instability, both for companies and for individuals. Being aware of that and working to counter the anxieties that exist as a result mean that it’s essential to understand how that really looks for prospective employees. Candidates considering a new role will now want to understand the company culture they’d be entering into, they need to know whether they will be heard, trained, encouraged and they want to have a clear idea of what their daily experience within that role would really look like. 

In addition, the surge in hybrid working conditions means that we’re seeing a far larger cross over between private and personal lives which necessarily requires companies to operate with a more caring and compassionate approach than ever before. Each employee is an individual, each has specific life circumstances, work aspirations and work requirements and companies should be operating as such. 

Recognising the need for more human interaction and thoughtful leadership represents an opportunity for companies to truly invest in authentic relationships with their employees, both current and prospective. It provides a chance to operate openly and to put in place changes that help employees to feel part of a team, with voices that are relevant and contributions that will be appreciated. The output of this type of long term interaction is the creation of an environment of productivity, as well as encouraging the kind of loyalty that increases talent retention in the long term. 

Recognise that one size does not fit all 

Benefits have never been more important than now. But benefits that really make change, not gimmicky, superficial offerings that have zero impact on how employees really live. Candidates are now looking for tailored benefit experiences. Benefits that recognise their age, sex, stage in life and professional expectations. Some candidates may be looking for health and dental that covers their dependants, others will be focused on further educational opportunities, or on pensions or child care assistance. Fully understanding your candidate or employee and shaping a benefits package that really speaks to their needs can be more important than salary in some cases. 

A benefits offering is also understood to be a mark of the company culture itself.  Your DEI and ESG offerings are a reflection of how we should view your company, but equally about how you view the employees you work with. How you appreciate them, how you value them. Fully reimagining your benefits offering in all it’s guises can offer candidates peace of mind, an understanding of your company aspirations and a sense of security that is essential in today’s corporate climate. 

Remove as many barriers as possible 

Candidates are looking for conscious employment solutions. Employment that eases their work-life pressures rather than add to them. Employment that offers a removal of some of the barriers they may otherwise face. Understanding the priorities and pain points of your current and prospective employees and finding an open and continued communication around what you can do to help with those is an important undertaking. 

Perhaps your job seeker is most concerned with professional advancement. In this case, what continued learning and development opportunities will you have to ensure they can further their career aspirations? Or, you may find the pain point for your candidate is ensuring flexibility around the school run or another family requirement. What is it that your organisation offers that might support them with those priorities? Being open about specific needs and offering well communicated, thoughtful solutions could make all the difference. 

Be ready to keep learning about your employees needs 

This rethink is not a ‘one and done’. From here on, you should be constantly thinking about evolving your employee experience as the needs of your team and prospective team members also changes. Opening the dialogue and engaging with candidates and employees at every stage of their time with you is the only way to fully understand their expectations and needs. None of this will be wasted time. Employees who feel seen and appreciated will repay this in productivity, in loyalty, in word spread. Each contented job seeker or employee will be building your brand, spreading the word about your company culture and saving you money in the long run in repeated recruitment drives. Time spent genuinely learning about your team is time and money  well invested for your future success.

Upending your entire employee experience might seem overwhelming but understanding that doing so and creating tailored and compassionate employee experiences can lead to increased productivity and loyalty is a very desirable outcome. Finding the right candidates for your roles and creating positions and a culture that means they will want to stay with you as their career progresses is worth reshaping your offering.  Ultimately the move towards more individualistic candidate thinking will result in a change in all company cultures so being actively ahead of this is far preferable than running to catching up as talent looks elsewhere. 

Emma Murray