The Rise of the Consumer Candidate… The Recruiting Reality Check

2017 has been a unique year for talent acquisition. And that’s an understatement. Anyone currently looking at a long list of unfilled job openings is scratching their head wondering where are all the good candidates? And why is it so hard to find them? Challenges in finding talent isn’t a new issue, we all know about the war for talent. However, there are new complexities and dynamics at play that are impacting the process like never before. Now that we’ve reached mid-year, it’s time to take a look at what’s been happening in the recruiting marketspace and what we expect to happen for the remainder of the year.

Economic Rebound = High Levels of Activity?

There’s no doubt about it – we started the year with a bang! The beginning of the year saw unprecedented activity on the recruiting front. Normally, January can be a bit sluggish as the holiday hangover recedes, new budgets open, retirements happen, etc. We generally see the uptick begin in mid-February. However this year, a strong carryover from 2016, coupled with high demand, created elevated levels of activity across our industry for the first half of the year.

Will it continue? Quite simply, yes. While we will most likely experience the normal dips in the cycle, we expect strong levels of activity for the remainder of the year. While that’s great news for prospective candidates, it’s tough news for clients looking for top talent. Competition for talent is fierce. Bottom line, not only does the war for talent continue to rage on, it’s now gone into full assault mode.

The Rise of the Consumer Candidate 

What makes this year truly unique is the rise of the consumer candidate. So, what does that really mean? Simply, candidates are now savvy consumers when looking at new opportunities. Like all educated consumers, they do their research. They look at your employment brand and they also look at your employee value proposition. This goes well beyond assessing a compensation package offer. They look at the sum total of your organization’s culture, rewards, development opportunities, etc. They ask themselves what unique value they will receive from joining your organization.

Think about it like when a star professional athlete becomes a free agent. When looking at prospective new teams, it’s not always about the money, they tend to want to join the winning team. They want to join the team that has a strong reputation and talented coaches.

Make no mistake, all organizations have an employee value proposition and employment brand in the labor market regardless of whether by design or accident. With today’s networking capability, social media overload and instant availability of information, current employees and prospective employees have now become savvy employment consumers. It’s the new reality.

The Fallout 

The net result of the shift to candidate consumerism has been a sharp increase in the level of candidate offer rejections. We have seen candidates go all the way through the process, solid offer in hand, only to turn it down at the last minute. Unfortunately, candidates are also starting to ‘shop‘ offers. Whether it be for a counter offer with their current company or to bid two offers against each other, it is happening. And many companies are now starting to do counter offers, where they didn’t before, because they don’t want to lose the talent they have.

We’ve also started to see a slight shift away from candidates automatically wanting to join the big ‘brand’ companies. They are starting to look at the appeal of a mid-size or small organization. They look for ones that offer stronger line of sight to future career opportunities, stronger team based cultures or, frankly, just better employment brands or employee value proposition.

Going Forward 

Assuming the overall economy remains steady, candidate consumerism is only going to increase. As the baby boomers continue to retire, the next generations are going to be much more savvy and selective in choosing where they want to work. It’s becoming more and more critical that organizations take the time to understand their employment brand and employee value proposition in the talent market.

No longer can organizations sit back and think, “Hey, we are a great company, who wouldn’t want to work here?” In order to remain competitive in attracting talent today, organizations now need to flip the equation and instead ask, “Hey, why would a person want to work here?” How an organization answers that one simple question can make all the difference in winning on the talent battlefield.

Looking for help in understanding your employment brand or employee value proposition? Westport Intl Consultants are ready to assist you in tackling your biggest business challenge with the war for talent. For more information, visit us at  

Westport Intl is an innovative executive search firm dedicated to building strong client relationships to recruit top leadership. At Westport, we utilize a custom approach for our clients, working in concert with their unique culture and values, in order to deliver innovative cost-effective solutions within accelerated timeframes. For more information about Westport Intl executive search services, visit us at