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When candidates look for a new role, we know that they tend to have a ‘wish list’ in mind. These are elements they’d like to secure in the job; priorities that they consider important, ones they’re prepared to compromise on – and others that are non-negotiable.

Our network of candidates have expressed a step change in their attitudes toward new roles – primarily in their attitude to job security. 

From conversations with those currently in the job market during October 2020 (as explored in our Randstad Workmonitor report – notably team collaboration and even health insurance – has now taken a back seat, to be replaced with more pragmatic immediate concerns.

To get a deeper understanding of candidates’ mindsets around what they want in a new role, and what this means for hiring managers in the immediate future, we carried out further research in the UK in the form of a website poll of over 400 jobseekers.

Our research found that – unsurprisingly, set against so much uncertainty in the wider world – job security comes top of the list. 

Respondents on rated job security as the most important consideration (44%) to them when weighing up an offer of employment, ranking above salary (32%), and flexibility and other benefits (24%).

But, before you relegate this to the ‘water is wet’ style of insights, this is less self-evident than it might seem. The crucial part to note is that this looks different for everyone. There is no one accepted definition of what a ‘secure job’ means, and different elements of stability matter more or less to different candidates. 

Here are the top four ways in which job security presented itself in our UK research:

A locked-in salary

In our Workmonitor research, 50% of the 800 UK respondents reported wanting or expecting a protected salary when considering a new role.

During 12 months in which conversations around pay deferrals, bonus restrictions and reduced salaries for those on furlough have become commonplace, candidates have looked for ways to secure guarantees in what they’ll bring home in their pay packet each week or month.

A focus on training 

In the same cohort of UK respondents, 47% saw a company providing training as a key boon to the job offer.

Having experienced a year of well-publicised job losses and companies going into liquidation, jobseekers in late 2020 are nothing if not expedient. In seeking jobs which will boost their capabilities, candidates wish to safeguard themselves by shoring up their own skills, should they end up on the job market in the near future.

With this in mind, it’s worth hiring managers considering their company’s own personal and professional development programmes when speaking with talent about current roles.

Health policies and safety provisions

33% of our research sample considered a company having clearly defined health policies and safety protocols a requirement or a desirable attribute in a new employer.

Through ongoing conversations with our network of hiring managers we know that  candidates are increasingly asking “What’s your sick leave policy?” 

Policy elements like these, which were previously less interrogated – such as allowances around time off for illness, or even the provision of anti-virus protection in the workplace – have become more important as the potential for us to become ill and have this impact our working lives has taken centre stage.

A promise of continuity 

With the UK Government’s comments about ‘non-viable jobs’ as a result of the pandemic, now more than ever, candidates want to gain assurance that the role they are applying for is in an industry or a company which is shown to have longevity. 

Whether that’s as a result of being part of a stable and established network, presenting strong financial results during the pandemic, or through an external set of metrics, 33% of our respondents replied that they would wish to see a level of job security in the role they were applying for.

So, when meeting candidates, hiring managers should be prepared and able to impart confidence that the positions they are interviewing for will be viable for the years to come.

A candidate’s view: Pablo, public affairs advisor

Formerly a senior public affairs advisor at a large banking organisation, Pablo had moved to Italy in late 2019, intending to improve his Italian and take a year out. But by March 2020, the pandemic had put paid to those plans, and instead he found himself back in the UK and looking for a new role in a sparse market.

“As a job-hunter, I had an entirely different perspective by the time I moved back to England,” he comments. “When I was last looking for work in 2015, my main drivers were salary and status. I was only interested in a role if it would make me very senior or make me very rich – to be slightly crass!

“But this time, my job hunt took on an altogether different tone. I was interested in the detail of the role. I was interested in how I would come out of this job a more employable person. If the company was prepared to allow me to take time off for training, great. If they’d pay for me to get a recognised accreditation, even better! 

“I was looking for more substance and information about the hiring company than before – I asked every interviewer more questions than ever. It was about seeking some level of reassurance that I would be signing up for a role in a company that’s on a growth journey, particularly as so many brands are struggling to stay afloat.”

Happily, Pablo has now found a new position working for a global NGO, a role which appealed to him because of the stability of the business. “The company I am now working for is globally recognised and has strong links with government departments across the world. I felt confident when I accepted the job offer that when I move on to seek other opportunities, it will be because I choose to do so, not because the organisation is in dire straits or is going under.”

  • For hiring managers, this knowledge is power. Armed with this information, they will better understand what prospective colleagues consider important – and consider less so – in a new role, they will be able to tailor their offer to meet these needs. In doing this, they’ll make themselves a more attractive professional prospect to incoming talent.