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Digging Deeper: What do candidates prioritise during their job search?

We know there are many factors that candidates consider when seeking a new role, or in choosing to accept or reject a job offer. One of the ways we narrow down exactly what’s important to candidates is data: what keywords do candidates use most? Which companies are most in demand? And, what do candidates tell us they care about?

Many factors are at play in candidate decisions at the moment. Market shifts, lifestyle and the rising cost of living are just some of the elements influencing their thought process. If you want to attract the best talent, it is worth noting what will make your organisation stand out from competitors.

Flexibility is Key

Work-life balance is here to stay and remains a key consideration for job seekers. ‘Work from home’ was the top keyword search on Seek last year, and 51% of LinkedIn job seekers list ‘flexibility’ as a priority. A recent poll we ran on our own LinkedIn supports these statistics, with 41% of respondents listing ‘flexible working arrangements’ as their top priority.

Natasha Bhatia, Paxus Account Manager - VIC, notes that the “number one consideration I hear from candidates is flexibility – most are looking for a hybrid model still. They are open to working from the office 2-3 days per week. Flexibility, work-life balance and support clearly remain important, and these days can even be considered as adding to the culture of the organisation.”

Companies can leverage this priority by continuing to offer remote work options that benefit both employees and employers. By incorporating flexibility into core values, businesses can attract top talent who value autonomy and the freedom to work in a way that suits their lifestyle and productivity preferences.

​​AI Opportunities

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) transformation continues to drive the IT skill mix, candidates are also remaining acutely aware of the opportunities, and prioritising it in their search. Jobs that mention AI attract greater candidate engagement, and job ads on LinkedIn that mention AI have seen 17% higher application growth in the last two years compared to those that do not.

Providing opportunities to work with these technologies can be a significant draw. By offering roles that allow employees to work on AI projects, or by providing training in AI-related skills, businesses can attract individuals who are eager to be at the forefront of emerging technologies. In our LinkedIn poll, 22% of respondents prioritise development and upskilling, highlighting that one in five employees want to continue evolving their skills. An increase in AI opportunities is likely to be one of the considerations driving this need for learning.

Money still Matters

Money might not be everything, but at the end of the day, salaries matter, particularly with the current cost of living crisis across Australia. One in five of our LinkedIn respondents listed remuneration as their top factor when selecting a job, and 70% of Seek candidates look for salary in initial job ads (SEEK Employment Marketplace, 2023, Candidate Insights – What’s happening Post-Pandemic?).

In an uncertain market where inflation remains a challenge, candidates are still seeking strong compensation. With specialised or niche IT skills often in lower demand compared to supply, many IT job seekers still have the ability to seek a specific rate or salary. To continue to attract that specialised talent, companies must ensure their salary offerings are in line with, if not above industry standards. They might also consider providing comprehensive benefits packages, performance bonuses, and clear paths for financial growth. Transparent communication about compensation and financial rewards can demonstrate to potential hires that a company recognises and values their worth and contribution.

​​Job Stability

Considering salary is of course a standard consideration for job seekers, but given current economic uncertainty, there is considerably more attention being given to the longevity and stability of roles in conjunction with remuneration considerations.

“In our current job market, I’m finding that candidates in Canberra are equally driven by money and job stability. They will consider moving to a new contract opportunity if there is a better rate on offer, however, if their existing contract is long-term with extension prospects, they are often more likely to stay where they are.” – Antonia Sanchez, Paxus Account Manager – ACT.

Bhatia is noting a similar trend with contract length having become a significant factor in addition to rates, mentioning that “most candidates that I have spoken with lately are considering a minimum of 6-month contracts.”

​​Employer Branding

Following a tumultuous few years for the IT job market, benefits like culture and flexibility are now simply expected. Even as candidate supply has increased, employers must continue to focus on their unique offerings. This is supported by our LinkedIn poll, which saw 19% of respondents listing ‘employer culture and reputation’ as their priority.

Interested in making the most of this trend? Invest in effective storytelling, showcasing company culture, and highlighting success stories of current employees. Engaging an online presence on social media and professional networks, along with a great candidate experience during the recruitment process, can set a company apart as an employer of choice.

Interested in more market insights? Discover the top tech roles, contractor rate data and more in our latest Contractor Rate Guide + Market Insights publication to find out.


If you’re looking for your next role or looking to fill roles get in touch with our team across Australia or search our open roles now!

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