A few weeks ago, I spent several days working with an international company who is facing one of the most difficult challenges in today’s workforce: attracting suitable talent. And they’re not alone. In fact, almost three quarters (72.8%) of employers are having a difficult time finding skilled candidates. It’s a trend impacting companies worldwide. Whether an organization is an international powerhouse or a regional small business, the phenomena of attracting the right talent persists.

Let me start by giving you some background on the current employment conditions in our country. Would you be surprised if I told you that the last time there was a sub 4% unemployment rate was 1969? This is a “buyers’ market” and job seekers have choices. In fact, just last year the U.S. Labor Department reported a record high of 6.6 million job openings – an all-time high affecting 50% of U.S. employers. 

Additionally, the access to available positions are endless. In the time it took someone to apply for one job 25 years ago, today’s job seeker can apply for 25 jobs. With social media sites such as LinkedIn, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, etc., job seekers can not only apply for multiple open positions at the touch of a button, but companies are pushing available position notifications to them on a regular basis.  

Herein lies the issue: organizations are facing low unemployment rates and a globally-accessible employment marketplace. Combine these two factors and you’re facing a serious recruitment problem!

There is no doubt that times have significantly changed, and the need for organizations to radically change is now more relevant than ever. Years ago, organizations concentrated on several important factors to attract talent, which included company name, retirement plans, salary and title, to name a few. And although these are still on the list of importance, today’s talent looks beyond these factors when determining where to work.

Herein lies the question: what do today’s job seekers look for in an organization? 

In a recent Forbes international research study of millennial job seekers, the number one desirable benefit was development and training. People want to improve through professional development measures. Whether through educational benefits, professional coaching, or leadership development initiatives, today’s job seekers are looking to continue to develop their skills.

The second desirable benefit an organization can offer is flexibility. Job seekers are looking for ways to balance their work and life. Don’t confuse this with working less or laziness. Think of it as working hard without punching a timeclock. Because of technology, work occurs at all hours. Emails are being answered at midnight, laptops are active while watching a movie, and remote meetings are occurring at all hours of the day and night. The work is being done, but not all between the hours of 8am and 5pm.  Lock an employee in a cubicle for eight hours, watch over them like a hawk, monitor their bathroom breaks, and have them punch in and out, and the result will be a short-term employee.   

Finally, modern-day applicants are seeking a positive organizational culture surrounded by effective leadership. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: “employees don’t leave a company, they leave their manager.” This is more apropos today than ever. Well-trained leadership is very attractive to today’s job seekers, as is a great company culture. And make no mistake about it, applicants know which organizations have great cultures. They also know which companies treat employees the way they want to be treated. After all, job sites offer firsthand employee ratings and comments about a company. 

Organizations must remain at the top of their game to attract valuable and skilled employees. Complacency, or simply turning a blind eye to these modern-day recruitment concerns, will inevitably result in the continued frustration of recruiting the talent that every organization desires. What sets you apart from the competition?