The latest thinking, news and events from the world of Recruitment

Report Reveals what Candidates are Looking for in a Job Advert


A recent survey conducted by First Recruitment Group asked 1278 permanent and temporary workers what really motivates them to apply for one job over another.

We can all probably guess what came out on top as the most important factor in a job advert?…yes you guessed it – pay! Unsurprisingly 90% said that pay was their top priority, and that it was important for a job advert to specifically indicate a pay bracket.

74% of candidates care about business reputation

What was more interesting were the other factors that workers looked for in a job advert. The reputation of the company matters to candidates with 74% researching the company first, using their website, looking at online articles, asking friends and looking on the companies social media pages. This shows that brand identity and word of mouth go hand in hand to promote a positive reputation. What does your company identity say about you?

99% of candidates would consider applying for a job if recommended

Recommendations are a powerful tool in attracting someone to a job, with over 70% of workers saying they would apply for a job if recommended by a friend, and nearly 29% saying they would consider applying from a recommendation.

Clear job descriptions matter

Half of candidates surveyed looked for a job that described an opportunity to progress, and almost half looked for a clear job description. By showing candidates a clear career route and what tasks they will be expected to undertake regularly, it can help them visualise themselves in that role.

Proving less important were pensions, bonus schemes, free gym memberships and voucher schemes, with only 4% of candidates (sales staff) caring about a company car.

Candidates willing to travel the distance

The data also shows that 33% of candidates would travel over 20 miles for work and 35% would relocate for a job. A report from the Office of National Statistics shows that between 1976 and 2001 the average commuting trip distance increased by over 60%. This could be down to an increase in cars, but with 3.7 million UK workers commuting on average two hours a day, many blame stagnant wages and soaring housing costs.

Difference between contractors, perm employees, sectors

Interestingly the data was almost identical when comparing between contractors, perm employees and the sectors that they worked in. This shows that no matter who the candidate, they generally look for the same information in an advert. The only noticeable difference was that 44% of contractors would travel over 20 miles, compared to 27% of permanent staff.

A template for the perfect job advert

The results reveal the importance of getting the fundamentals right, indicating a pay bracket, specifying a location, and ensuring your job description paints a clear picture of the role. Benchmarking can help assess the right level of pay, so you stay competitive in your sector and location. If the job has a clear development plan, or an opportunity to train or progress, make sure you tell candidates in your job advert.

Outside of the advert itself, a positive company reputation has the power to attract the best talent. MOST candidates will research your company, and if they do, what will they find? Does your Careers Section reflect who you are as a company? Does it tell candidates about the benefits, social events and charity work that you do in the community? Using testimonials from employees or employee videos can be a great way of giving credibility and helping candidates see behind the scenes.

And finally use word of mouth to your advantage by seeking exit feedback from employees and contractors. It can highlight areas for improvement and is a great way to get those positive testimonials too. After all, 99% of workers would consider applying for a job that is recommended by a friend.

Participants surveyed:  

  • 43% Contractors
  • 39% Perm Staff
  • 18% Unemployed

52% worked in the Energy sector (Oil & Gas, Nuclear, Power, HSE), with other sectors including Infrastructure (Construction, HSE, Water, Rail), IT, Aerospace, Commercial, Chemicals, Automotive, Healthcare.

59% worked in engineering roles, and 64% were in senior or managerial position.