What is motivating candidates in their job search? - Another Source -Another Source

What is motivating candidates in the job search?

Feb 2023

Marcie Glenn

From quiet quitting to rage applying, it seems that every week a new term crops up attempting to make sense of rapid workforce changes.  

Semantics aside, the labor market is still highly competitive with an ongoing population shortage, wage increases driven by inflation, and more retirements. Employers, what does this mean for you? How do you set yourself apart from other companies in such a landscape? 

Top motivators in the job search

In every interview, Another Source asks candidates what motivators or priorities they have in their job search. Based on well over 3,000 interviews conducted in 2022, we found that these 5 were the top motivators: 

  1. Contributing to meaningful work
  2. Growth opportunities 
  3. Company culture 
  4. Industry or area of focus 
  5. Company mission 

What do you notice at first glance? Do any of these motivators resonate with your experience from recent recruitments?  

Some of the qualities listed are more intrinsic (contributing to meaningful work, industry). But notably, company culture and mission both scored higher than location, leadership, and team. An organizational culture built on respect and trust is more likely to prioritize initiatives that put people first.  

It’s not a coincidence that the same reasons people look for job opportunities are often the very ones that persuade them to stay with an employer. Let’s examine each in greater depth. 

A smiling woman with a black collared blouse sitting next to a bearded man who is laughing

Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

Purposeful work

We spend the majority of our waking hours at work, so it is important to feel connected to the goals and vision of the company. A mismatch between what a person fundamentally values and what the company prioritizes can lead to disengagement and eventually turnover if not addressed. The time required to search for, hire, and train an employee can be lengthy and costly – both in terms of productivity and physical resources. Thus, it’s essential that employees can identify their purpose and how that aligns with the company’s work and mission. 

Furthermore, Millennials and Gen Z believe that businesses should be positively contributing to society in addition to the work itself (Korn Ferry). The younger generations look to leaders as taking up the charge on key issues and, more importantly, speaking up about them. Misalignment here can similarly lead to employee attrition. Should budget allow, you can consider matching employee donations or giving to a non-profit specific to your industry. For instance, Another Source celebrates work anniversaries by matching an employee gift to their cause of choice. Supporting the community benefits everyone in the company, not only younger workers.  

A man in a plaid shirt gestures during a meeting, while a woman looks introspectively at her computer screen

Photo by Headwayio on Unsplash

Professional development 

For many people, the pandemic fostered a different perspective on mortality and what they wanted to accomplish in their career. This prompted millions to leave their current positions and seek new opportunities in the Great Resignation. In efforts to retain employees, companies turned to cross-training and upskilling where it was applicable. Professional development helps employees feel that their company values their work and is willing to invest in their individual growth, instead of outsourcing to contractors. 

Offering training can be especially transformational for younger generations. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that as the retirement age increases, younger workers can expect to be in the workforce for at least 60 years. Nowadays, there are many options for training ranging from more general (e.g. Coursera) to skill-specific. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of creating the space for employees to do their own research and become a master of their craft. Having a culture of learning is both a positive for candidates and employees. The Another Source team recently participated in a training program, Empowered Productivity from Maura Thomas, and checks in on our progress on a weekly basis.

A blonde woman wearing black glasses is closing her eyes and taking a deep breath in as she stretches.

Photo by Radu Florin on Unsplash

Holistic health and work-life balance

Work trends have been leaning toward greater mental health awareness, even before the pandemic highlighted it. The great push for flexibility in work arrangements has largely been driven by the ability to work when and where you are most productive. Of course, the underlying assumption is that managers trust their direct reports to complete their tasks on-time and with quality. That expectation is arguably no different from that of a traditional work setting. 

Conversely, it should be noted that some people prefer in-person time with colleagues for the mental health aspects. A commute and separate work setting can help distinguish between work and personal time. For working parents, time in the office can establish clearer boundaries with children as well. No matter the arrangements your company sets, be intentional. Are there set days everyone will need to be in the office? What is the best way for everyone to communicate? Ask your employees for feedback on how you can set your team up for success – while you may not be able to accommodate every request, you can find what works best for most people. 


In reviewing candidates’ top motivators and the examples we provided, how might you adjust your hiring process? What additional input have you received from the interviews you have conducted? Comment with what you think makes a company an employer of choice.

Additional resources

Written by Evelyn Kwong 2023

Contact Us

206.241.8906 |619.215.9084

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.