How the Pandemic Has Changed What Candidates Are Looking for

by Marc Peterson, Wiss | January 24, 2022

Hiring needs have changed. It has become a bigger challenge to not only identify talent and get them on board, but also to retain top talent within the market. Before the pandemic in 2017 and 2018, salary was one of the main priorities, but there has been a significant change in the past two years. Candidates today are looking for a variety of items.

Candidate Asks

  • Flexible schedules and/or work-from-home opportunities. Are they hybrid, 100 percent remote or 100 percent on site? Companies are using a hybrid method in the downtrend of the pandemic, but it depends on the industry. Service sectors are tending to be more remote.
  • Better benefits. How much is being covered? Are employers looking to increase what they contribute? Candidates are not only concerned about the appropriate health care for themselves but also for their families.
  • Better salaries. They want to be able to grow in a position.
  • Clear expectations of their roles. With the loss of jobs in 2020, people had to take on additional roles since they no longer had two or three other people to help support that role. Today, candidates want as much detail as possible about a job; they want to understand going into a job what is going to be expected of them. If an incoming candidate is supposed to do A, B and C and now they are doing everything through X, Y and Z, they won’t be happy.
  • Versatility in their position. Accounting is a perfect example: A recent grad starts out in audit and does a one-year tenure and expresses desire to move into tax. It’s not the easiest to accomplish, but being able to offer some level of versatility is becoming more valuable.
  • Growth opportunities. People do not want to spend three or four years in a row without having the ability to move up to the next level.
  • Mission-focused roles. Having a clear mission statement on your website helps. How much does an organization participate in philanthropic efforts?
  • DEI initiatives. They want to see diversity, equity and inclusion. Policies that include a diverse candidate pool are important.
  • Stability. Nobody wants to move into a role that may not be there in six months.
  • Reputation of their employer within the market. If someone’s reputation on Glassdoor says the work environment is not great, it does have some level of impact.

The Hiring Process

For many organizations, the overall hiring process needs to shrink. If an organization can become very efficient with their hiring process, they will see more success with landing the candidate they want. Having seven rounds of interviews, for example, is not acceptable. In the current market, organizations are attempting to narrow down their hiring needs to exactly what they require, even if that means filling only one open position out of a slew of open slots available.

Employers are also somewhat disadvantaged today in New York and New Jersey due to the lack of the ability to compare salaries from previous jobs. Most companies today will ask what you are targeting in terms of salary and not what are you currently earning.

Employers can improve the hiring process to assist with obtaining the best candidates by implementing the following procedures:

  • Defining roles clearly and ensure both hiring managers and talent acquisition professionals are on the same page
  • Reviewing candidate experience
  • Having a more efficient interview processes
  • Leveraging technology to conduct interviews
  • Offering feedback and/or closing the loop
  • Making educated but quicker decisions for open roles

Unconscious Bias

It’s important to avoid language that has an unconscious gender bias in job descriptions. This is particularly the case when thinking about DEI. Similarly, it’s important to have all company representatives exhibit a positive attitude about the company and no biases through their actions and words when interviewing a potential candidate.

We are in a revolving job market. There is a need to be transparent about roles much more so now than pre-pandemic. Candidates are also much more aware of how to obtain information about jobs more so than in the past.

Marc Peterson first presented this information at an NJCPA Business & Industry Professionals Interest Group meeting earlier this month. Learn more about the B&I interest group at

Marc  Peterson

Marc Peterson

Marc Peterson is the manager of recruiting practice at Wiss.

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