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Headhunter Hints: Money isn’t the biggest motivator for those seeking new opportunities


One of the biggest disconnects that I hear often from companies is that money is the number one motivator to attract talent; that every job seeker is simply looking for an increase in pay. Out of the thousands of candidates I’ve interviewed over the last several years the most common reason for seeking new opportunities is not simply to make more money.


When asked what candidates are seeking most in their next career opportunity, over 75% did not include money/compensation in their top 3. Those who did include it typically were grossly underpaid, overworked or undervalued at the time.




So, what DO job seekers look for most often when considering a job change?


The ability to be heard, to make a difference, to feel as though they are part of the decision-making process in the areas that affect their ability to do their jobs successfully. They’re interested in education and training opportunities, mentorship (giving or receiving), and the ability to have a clear career path that the company supports. If they bring an idea or solution to the table, and it is implemented make sure they receive recognition in the way that is most meaningful to them.


Flexibility. Not feeling guilty for having to be out of the office for a few hours for a doctor’s appointment or having the ability to start their workday extremely early so they may attend a late afternoon soccer game can be priceless to many. They enjoy being able to drop the kids off at school, or coach their games. Or being able to participate in that late afternoon spin class. Providing flexibility and trust that your employees will get the job done typically creates a greater sense of loyalty.


Support their career growth. I’m not talking about the one conversation had during the annual review period. Learn about them early on in your relationship and ask them about their aspirations. Make them feel comfortable enough to share their goals, even if they don’t include your company. My favorite candidate reference calls are when that person’s current manager says to me “they are SO talented, beyond anything we can offer them now. They deserve to flourish in their career, and it would be a disservice not to support them in moving on”. That is a leader who gets it.


I want to be clear that I’m not stating that candidates will or should leave their current company for a pay-cut, they won’t unless it makes sense in the very near future. In most cases I don’t believe that is setting up a relationship for success. However, by utilizing salary as your number one recruiting strategy you may actually be sending the wrong message. Some companies are known for paying more simply because, according to current and former employees, they don’t respect their employees boundaries and their work / life balance, nor do they invest in their growth. Their top performers soon realize that they are being held back in their career and the compensation becomes less important in the short term.


Far too often, the “what can we get you to stay” conversation begins when the employee gives notice. This is a question that should be asked consistently throughout their tenure if you are looking to keep them engaged and content.

Looking for more Headhunter Hints? Check out the blog on Gehl Search Partners or our YouTube channel for more recruiter tips.