Top 13 Things Candidates Are Looking for Out of a Career

Setting Expectations Top 13 Things Candidates Are Looking for Out of a Career

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As much as employers seek to find the best candidates for their available positions, good quality candidates are doing research of their own. This marriage between an employer and employee is just as important that there is a good fit on both sides of the fence.

Here are several key factors that candidates and employees want and value out of a career:

An Intuitive, Efficient Hiring Process

Candidates want to be able to apply for a position in a way that highlights their strengths and displays the work they have done in previous roles. If your application process is extremely long and daunting, or forces prospective applicants to sit through typing every single nauseating detail about their supervisor’s supervisor and the land parcel number their last company was located on, chances are you’ll experience candidates dropping out of the process. Top candidates want to apply and move on, as their time is valuable. Even bad candidates deserve an easy application process. We want their skills put to good use, not just how skilled they are in applying for jobs.

Clear Expectations of Their Role(s)

Fair enough. Candidates want to know about the role and what is expected of them in the role. Against what criteria will their performance be measured? They want to (and should) have a clear understanding of these objectives when applying for, and definitely before accepting, a position.

Opportunity (Versatility in Position)

Good candidates want opportunity out of a career. They don’t necessarily want to leave one position for another where they are doing the exact same thing. There’s got to be something juicy about the opportunity that will draw them in. Perhaps this comes in the form of opportunity to utilize other skills and talents they aren’t currently using or the ability to be dynamic and perform various roles. The opportunity should be there.

Growth, Both Personally and Within the Company

Candidates want to grow within their role. They want to learn new tasks and be challenged to stretch their current skills toward something that will grow them both personally and professionally. This might look like a promotion from staff to a management role. No one likes being stagnant for too long. And if they do, they might be a good candidate but they sure aren’t the type that will take your business to the next level.


While we all want growth and versatility in our professional lives and roles, too much can sometimes get to be overwhelming and stressful. Having a strong sense of stability in our roles helps keep us grounded and can be a springboard for new ideas and creativity.

Chaotic or threatening environments can also thwart candidate performance and even cause candidates to seek less dramatic environments.

To be Valued, Make a Difference, and Have Importance in Their Role

Good candidates don’t need you to hold their hand, but feeling valued is something that we all seek in our lives. When we feel valued by our colleagues and superiors, like our contributions and ideas matter, we have a tendency to stay motivated and dedicated to the people around us. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Good Communication; with Management and Colleagues

Good candidates are looking for open lines of communication out of a career. They want to know where they stand in the application and interview process. Especially if you have taken the time to interview a candidate, they want to know the status of their interview at some point. Generally, you should contact a candidate within 48 to 72 hours if they are to move forward in the process toward an interview. This is a good time frame to stick to if you have already interviewed them as well. The sooner the better, as top candidates often have several positions they are looking at simultaneously. It is also a good practice to let candidates know that they have not been selected for a position as well. This is not only polite, but gives you credibility as a good and effective communicator.

On the job, employees want to be able to approach a manager or subordinate with little effort. There should be clear lines of communication going both ways within a company. While not always perfect, a company should work to establish these clear lines and stay in touch with each other on current events and what’s happening within the company.

Clear Presentation of Salary and Benefits Offered

Before accepting a job offer, it is a good practice to make the candidate aware of the salary or compensation package that is being offered for the position. This is important not only because it establishes clear communication and expectations upfront, but also allows the hiring managers and the candidate to decide if the role being offered is in line with their recent pay or what they expect to be making.

Fair and Realistic Salary Aligned With Work Expectations

In keeping with this, the salary (or potential) offered should be in line with the demands of the role and also state and local averages. While the average salary in your area can fluctuate greatly, the prime importance of this point is that candidates feel valued for the work they do and are fairly compensated for it whether by a base salary, commission or bonus structure, or the opportunity for more earnings.

Company’s Dedication to Work/Life Balance

Good candidates are hard workers. They like to work and look forward to work, but they also value having a balance between what brings home the bacon and enjoying bacon and eggs with family on weekends. While good candidates won’t necessarily mind working overtime, they also want to know that their employers value that they have a personal life and will sometimes want to tend to and nurture that over work life.

Track Record and Reputation of Your Company

Good candidates want to feel proud of where they spend the most of their time each day. It is important, as an employer, that you pay attention to employer branding. This not only affects the way you are seen in a public arena, but presents the opportunity for your candidates to be proud to apply and work for your company. Companies with good reputations are seen as more favorable. Employees who work for a company with a good reputation are more likely to refer their networks to apply for the same company or utilize their products and services. Another win-win for everyone.

With social media’s large presence in our lives today, it is becoming increasingly important that companies really pay attention to their social media presence and reputation. Nearly every company utilizes some social media platform and this makes it easy to interact with your consumers, employees and prospective employees. A site like Glassdoor is utilized by candidates in the way that Yelp! is utilized by consumers. If you receive a poor review, take a moment to respond to your reviewer. A little effort in this area can go a long way.

Bright Future Prospects for Your Company

No one wants to work for a company that’s sinking like a ship. This oftentimes indicates that something has gone seriously wrong with the operations of the business. Good candidates want to work for a company or brand that is innovative or a leader in their industry. They want to know that the future with the company looks bright and offers several opportunities for growth.

Enjoyable and Collaborative Culture

While some offices boast ping pong tournaments and pin ball machines, not every business is all fun and games. It doesn’t matter if you prefer to bring the fun to the office or leave it for after work, your company environment should be a collaborative and strong culture that encourages and nurtures the ideas and contributions of your staff.

Having a strong culture in the workplace can distinguish your firm from others that don’t place as much value on the importance of employee/employer interaction. Carve out some time for a weekly meeting with your staff. Touch base about what’s going on with them, ask about their weekend, or if they have anything exciting coming up in the future they are looking forward to. Engage them in conversation about something they are working on that they are particularly excited about or proud of. Doing so expresses that each person’s opinions and contributions matter and that no matter how big you are as a company, a little goes a long way.

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