What Recruits Want to Know

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By Phyllis Weiss Haserot With retention issues a significant cause for concern at most firms, it is useful to follow the trends on what job candidates are looking for. What kinds of questions are they more likely than previously to ask? Knowing what's on their minds enables interviewers to prepare responses and to push for reasonable changes that will make the firm more attractive to desirable recruits.

Compensation is already increasing; however, job candidates are looking for more than money. New concerns coming out of the closet in interviews relate to corporate culture or how deadlines are managed, hours of work and work/life balance.

They have seen their working parents' life styles, and they question them. Candidates want to know about the work environment: how people are treated, whether there is teamwork, whether people are supportive and friendly, how much control they will have over their projects. Men as well as women are asking about work/life balance, even using the phrase. The awareness of potential tensions even at the student level is evidenced by a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of 2,500 university students in 11 countries. The proportion naming "attaining a balance between personal life and career" as their primary goal rose from 45 percent to 57 percent in the two years from 1997 to 1999.

Young employees are willing to work hard in general. They showed this as they flocked to dot.com companies with very long hours. However, they do want flexibility. Many of them witnessed their parents' work and family tensions.

Recruiters and corporate policy-makers are beginning to change the language. Cisco Systems uses a new term",integration", to describe how work and personal life is blended throughout the day (and evening). This is particularly true in alternative work environments, and it is one of the reasons contract-employment has become so popular.

In order to make changes toward flexibility, managers need to show their trust of employees, to convey the belief that they will carry out their responsibilities and make deadlines however they choose to juggle their time. Treating them as adults and affording more flexibility as their tenure increases is bound to build loyalty.

We are seeing firms change noticeably in order to retain valuable staff. We will have to hope that the positive changes toward more humane work environments, more recognition and satisfaction will reappear as the economy shifts upward.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot is the president and founder of Practice Development Counsel, a New York-based business development and organizational effectiveness consulting and coaching firm working with professional firms, and its AuthenticWorkssm division. Practice Development Counsel works with firms on strategic marketing planning, client relationship building, work/life excellence, collaborative culture, implementing flexibility, workplace conflict resolution and consensus-building. Phyllis is the author of The Rainmaking Machine (West Group) and The Marketers Handbook of Tips & Checklists (Andrews Professional Books). You may contact her at [email protected] . Visit our web site at www.pdcounsel.com

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