How do you convince a candidate to join you?

12 February 2024

How do you get that perfect candidate to take that leap of faith? What would clinch it? And what does that tell us about how we’re really doing?

It’s a golden question. What’s the one thing we could do to convince you to join us?

For me, it’d be – show me how what I’m doing is positively helping people and positively helping the planet. And whilst I’m there, pay for some solar panels for my roof and perhaps a month’s travelling for my wife and me. Oh, and dog care whilst we’re there.

Okay, maybe I need to think that through a little more, but you get the gist.

We asked this question to over 100 people as part of a small research project. And do you know what they said? Certainly not this:

  • Make me MD
  • Buy me a boat
  • Give me shares
  • Double my salary

There were no outrageous requests. Not one.

We were shocked and disappointed. But actually pleasantly surprised! And maybe even a little moved. Genuinely, the nature of most replies was quite humbling.

What do people want? 

What is that one thing, then? What is the one thing that convinces you to join a company?

Yes, there were some of the things you might assume. There were people looking for financial reward, but more in a more measured way than you might think:

  • “More money and better working environment”
  • “Right now, it would probably be a significant salary increase.”
  • “Pay me fairly for my experience and what I bring to the table.”

It was far from the main theme.

You might also assume some requests around flexibility. And you would be right:

  • “Improve work/life balance”
  • “Show me how I can still put home life first.”
  • “four-day week“
  • “Remote work 100%”

But the absolute joy was in the consistent responses around fairness and ethics. People value being treated with respect, living up to values, honesty, and many other humble traits.

Now, we’re not expecting that to be a mind-blowing surprise – people are people. But remember, this is the ONE THING an employer could do. This is your big ask.

Here are ten responses to convey our point:

  1. “To be fair and transparent in all areas of the business.”
  2. Remove badly behaved employees to live by values.”
  3. “Demonstrate  they are fair, kind and ambitious.”
  4. “Show me how they value their staff.”
  5. Demonstrate that they put their values at the heart of how they lead and make decisions.”
  6. “Be honest about its failings.”
  7. “Show their track record to match their promises.”
  8. Respect my views and opinions.”
  9. “Convince me they give off a good energy and that they’re positive about what they do.”
  10. “Have an amazingly driven, kind team.”

And so…

And so, the question is – what do we take from this?

It’s great that people have such humble requests. Treat me fairly. Value my opinions. But it suggests these basic things are currently absent. If that’s the ONE THING you want, then the likelihood is that you don’t have it right now. Is that an assumption? Yes, but it feels like a very logical one.

So, whilst there’s a nice view of humanity from the responses we received, there’s maybe a tainted view of employers.

Are we all getting the basics wrong? 

Are we failing to make people feel they’re appreciated for the value they bring? Are we failing to be honest about our mistakes? Are we failing to show people we care about their opinions?

Here at The Surgery, we’ve always said to have the best employer brand you just need to be the best employer. And I think this underlines our view.

So, before we get excited about the snazzy things we can do to attract new people, let’s get the fundamentals right. For us, that starts with listening. Let’s ask people how we’re doing and build a plan that turns their thoughts into positive action.

Once that’s sorted, I’ll get back to negotiating that month-long trip and those solar panels 😉

Want to hear more about that research study? Download the report here.

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