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June 22, 2022

4 Trends in Shifting Candidate Priorities

Since the Great Resignation disrupted the workforce, it’s been a candidate’s hiring market. Candidates are heavily recruited by multiple companies simultaneously, causing them to drop out of less desirable recruitment processes at alarming rates. This trend leaves Talent Acquisition teams in a state of uncertainty, wondering how they can stay competitive as employers and keep candidates interested.

Key to remaining strategic and competitive is to keep up with shifting candidate priorities. According to employers, one of the most efficient strategies for combating high attrition and drop out in the recruitment process is to calibrate candidate messaging to exactly what candidates care about. Doing that poses some difficulties, though, because the unpredictability of candidate priorities is one of the top three challenges facing recruiting teams today.

Fortunately, we collect frequent data on candidate priorities and decision drivers. Candidate priorities have been changing quickly from quarter to quarter since 2020, but some key trends have emerged within those changes:

1. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are consistently growing in importance.

Once ranked as the 7th most important candidate priority in 2020, DEI most recently ranked as the 2nd most important at the end of Q1 2022. It is likely that DEI will continue to be a key decision driver in the future as more of Gen Z joins the workforce. Younger generations place greater importance on DEI with 30% of Gen Z and 22% of Millennials rating it as their top priority compared to just 12% of Baby Boomers.

2. Work-life balance might not be the catch-all buzzword it once was.

In 2020 and 2021, work-life balance ranked within the top 3 candidate priorities. However, by the end of Q1 2022, it had fallen to fifth. While still a high priority, it resonated less with candidates, especially those of older generations. Only 6% of Baby Boomers and 8% of Gen X ranked work-life balance as their top priority. Whether or not this will be a long-term trend remains to be seen. As Gen Z increasingly joins the workforce, they bring with them some of the highest support for work-life balance amongst the generations with 16% of Gen Z ranking it as a priority.

3. Compensation and benefits are (almost) always number one.

With the exception of Q3 2020, still within the heights of the pandemic when job stability became the biggest priority for candidates, total compensation, including benefits has held steady as the most important consideration for candidates each quarter. While this is important to always keep in mind, employers should keep up with other candidate preferences as well. For example, companies that may not be able to compete on the basis on compensation could successfully leverage the next most important candidate preferences to maintain a competitive advantage.

4. Overall, there appears to have been a shift in priorities from “job-first” to “person-first.”

While total compensation, including benefits still ranks as the number one priority important priority among candidates, the other top priorities indicate a “person-first” shift.

• Future earning potential fell steadily from a top five priority in 2020. By Q1 2022, future earning potential was the 9th most important candidate priority.

• Opportunities for advancement, also a top five priority in 2020, didn’t appear on the top ten list by Q1 2022.

• On the other hand, work location and DEI went from the 6th and 7th most important candidate priorities to both ranking as top three priorities.

• Culture and coworkers and appeal of role and responsibilities moved up the list from the least ranked priorities in 2020 to be tied for 6th place in 2022.


These changes seem to indicate a prioritization of personal values – an interesting development that will need to be followed.


If you’re interested in keeping an eye on changing trends in the Talent Acquisition space, follow us on LinkedIn!

Stay up to date as candidate priorities shift.

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