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Talent Insights Report

Posted on 12th March 2021 by Vanessa Cole

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2020 threw a curve ball that none of us could have imagined and it’s safe to say that the hiring landscape was massively impacted as a direct result.  From the transition to work from home to reduced hours and redundancy, last year undoubtedly changed main motivators for the talent market in 2021 and beyond. 

To better help businesses attract and retain great talent we need to understand what it is that candidates are now looking for in a role and workplace. Over the last few months, we’ve collected data from over 800 job-seeking candidates at all levels of seniority through an anonymous survey to understand just that.

The results are in, and we’ve uncovered some interesting trends!


We noticed a telling difference between the drivers for junior and senior candidates, with their top 5 most important factors listed below. With a swap between 1stand second place, (and different weightings placed on each), for lower salaried candidates their training is a huge factor, and for higher salaried candidates their leadership team becomes a defining factor:

Salaries up to $69,000:                                           Salaries $70,000 and above:

  • 1st – Career Progression                                  1st – Company Culture

  • 2nd – Company Culture                                2nd – Career Progression

  • 3rd – Job Security                                            3rd – Job Security

  • 4th – Company Values                                    4th – Company Values

  • 5th– Training Opportunities                           5th – Management Style of the Leadership Team

​*For candidates overall, the survey ranked in order of Company Culture, Career Progression and Job Security


Flexibility has had a huge moment in the spotlight and it looks like it’s here to stay;

  • 31% of people surveyed placed ‘flexibility’ as a ‘top 3 desirable’ in their next role (WFH options, flexible start/finish times, part-time hours)

  • With 58% of


    respondents looking for an increase in their salary, 45% of flexibility-seekers stated they are happy to remain on the same salary or lower in a new role, seemingly at the compromise of obtaining flexibility

Candidates who are looking for flexibility also had a strong desire to see that reflected in their leaders, with “illustrates work/life balance” being the fifth-most important quality in a new manager, at 24% of responses.


Of the 28% of candidates who put career progression as their main driver in looking for a role, 35% of those said they were looking for career progression at 6-12 months, 39% at 12-18 months, and 16% expecting career progression within 2 years.

HIRING TIP - when interviewing a candidate with career progression as their number one driver, ask “when would you expect to move into your next role?” and consider if their answer this realistic for your business.

What this means for businesses is that if you hire someone who’s placed “Career Progression” as a top motivator, in order to retain them they need to feel like they are consistently learning, growing and progressing. When opportunities or positions aren’t available, think about…

  • What extra responsibilities can they take on?

  • Can they mentor someone more junior in the business?

  • Can they be mentored by someone more senior in the business?

  • What training is available to them?

Speaking of training, 23% of candidates surveyed said they would like paid external training alongside the traditional internal options. 


Managers, breathe easy – out of 12 ideal characteristics we listed in a leader, only 1% of people ticked that they’re looking for a manager with “a personality similar to mine”. You can be confident that you don’t need to hire staff who are like you for them to feel at home under your lead.

Following that, only 3% of people listed that they expect managers to have “quick decisions and answers”; take comfort that staff respect your need to go away and think in order for you to problem solve.

Of the top three most important qualities in manager, 61% selected “supportive and understanding” in their top 3, 51% selected “open communication” and 40% of respondents selected “honest & fair”.  

After the year we’ve just had, it’s an important reminder that those so called “soft-skills” are actually what employees value the most, and being able to illustrate them will be what sets you apart as a strong leader.


In our research, 68% of candidates said that utilising transferrable skills was either quite important or of the highest importance when looking for a new role.

HIRING TIP- If hiring managers are to find the best person for a role, they need to be open to diverse talent, and seek people who have the skills and experience to excel in the role no matter their working background.

Hiring via transferrable skills can seem like a daunting task, but there are fantastic ways to do this:

  • Resumes:

    look between the lines at the skills used in a role, rather than focusing on the role title; ie communication, adaptability and organisation

  • Screening questions:

    utilise competency and behavioural questions to uncover if a candidate has the skills and behaviours to benefit the role and the culture

  • Digital assessment tools:

    reduce bias against different backgrounds and assess whether a candidate has the cognitive ability and learning agility to succeed in the role

  • Speak to your Recruitment Consultant:

    they can consult with you on which skills may translate best from one role to another

There are fantastic benefits to hiring candidates with transferrable skills:

  • Inject new ways of thinking and working into the business

  • Encourage a culture of sharing and learning

  • Invigorate team members who may be in a rut

Leaders should also be open to letting employees take on other projects and tasks where possible, so they can use different skills and stay engaged.

These stats and insights are the tip of the iceberg in our talent insights survey: Candidate Expectations of the Future. If you would like a copy of our full report, click the button below. We’d love to gain your thoughts and engage in this ongoing discussion together.