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Oct 17, 2013

I always cringe when I get a survey or some research touting some hot new finding or a big “surprise,” because in my experience, the vast majority of survey results are not particularly surprising at all.

So, when CareerBuilder hits me with a press release that says,  “New CareerBuilder Study Reveals Nine Lessons for Job Seekers and Recruiters That May Surprise You,” you’ll understand if I’m somewhat skeptical.

But here’s the thing: while I wasn’t all that surprised by the survey lessons for job seekers, I did find some value in what the research revealed for recruiters and other talent management professionals.

Here are the five “lessons” for recruiters from the CareerBuilder survey. See if you agree:

1. If you’re not mobile, you’re not truly accessible

According to the survey, nearly two in five employers (39 percent) have jobs that stay open four months or longer due to the inability to find people with appropriate skills. Mobile job search is growing at an accelerated rate, and employers who aren’t mobile-optimized are missing out on key talent they need to find quickly.

At least half of job seekers with mobile devices spend three hours or more looking for jobs via those devices every week (49 percent on smart phones and 59 percent on tablets), and 65 percent of workers who search for jobs via mobile devices will leave a web site if it is not mobile-optimized; 40 percent walk away with a more negative opinion of the company.

2. A company’s reputation can carry more weight than money

When job seekers were asked if they would consider a salary that is 5 percent less than their lowest acceptable salary, a significant number said they would  — depending on the company’s image and applicant experience.

Some 68 percent said they would accept a lower salary if the employer created a great impression through the hiring process; the challenge here is 29 percent of job seekers don’t think employers do a good job of reinforcing why their companies are a good place to work.

Job seekers also said they would accept a lower salary if the company had exceptionally positive reviews online (67 percent) or if the company had a lot of positive press recently (65 percent).

3. Job seekers say an employment brand is a must-have

While not a new concept, what is alarming about this finding is that only 38 percent of employers believe their company has a very clearly defined employment brand. This can adversely impact job seeker perceptions and ultimately application rates.

Nearly half (46 percent) of workers said a company’s employment brand plays a very big role in their decision to apply for a job within the organization; another 45 percent say it plays somewhat of a role.

4. Unresponsiveness can have a ripple effect

An earlier CareerBuilder study found that job seekers who don’t hear back after applying to an employer are more likely to stop buying products or services from the company. How much are employers at risk?

Well, 62 percent of job seekers don’t feel the companies they have applied to have been responsive.

On the flip side, 56 percent of employers admitted that they don’t respond to all candidates or acknowledge receipt of their applications; 33 percent said they don’t follow up with candidates they interviewed with to let them know they didn’t get the job.1

5. Flexibility is the new norm

Job seekers are placing a heavier emphasis on a company’s ability to provide a good work/life balance when they are considering a job offer.

  • 72 percent of workers said it’s important that a company offers flexible schedules when they are deciding whether to take a position.
  • 44 percent said it’s important that the company provide telecommuting options.

“There can sometimes be a disconnect between what employers and job seekers expect in the hiring process,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources at CareerBuilder, in a press release about the survey. “Our study evaluates how different perceptions and behaviors have evolved among these two groups, and what can help or hinder the recruitment and job search experience.”

Although I think Rosemary Haefner is right, I don’t think it is unrealistic for job seekers to be looking for companies with strong brands and reputations, are responsive to job candidates, and offers a flexible work environment. Those are pretty standard expectations as we look at the hiring game here in 2013, and employers who don’t understand that are probably missing out on some pretty good candidates.

I didn’t include the survey findings for job seekers, but you can find them here. And, here is where you can find some deeper insights from the research.

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. and Canada by Inavero on behalf of CareerBuilder among 5,518 job seekers and 2,775 hiring managers. The study was fielded between May 20 and July 1, 2013 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With pure probability samples of 5,518 and 2,775, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 1.3 percent and +/- 1.9 percent respectively.