Talent Acquisition

What Workers Want

Organisations need to evolve their hiring practices around the preferences of emerging career archetypes in Asia.

By Rachele Focardi

Today, every company’s main priority is talent attraction. Whether hiring numbers increase or decrease, every organisation needs to attract the right people to fulfill its business objectives. This is especially true for companies recruiting in Asia, where the pressure on the talent market has increased tremendously in recent years. Enter millennials. Their approach to work has fundamentally changed how organisations approach hiring.

According to a joint study between Universum and INSEAD, the main motivator for millennials in Asia to take a job is cultural fit—not prestige. The study also found that millennials’ top fear when it comes to their future career is not being able to find a job that matches their personality.

There are other differences in work preferences. According to Universum’s Talent Study, millennials in Asia want to feel at home at work by being valued and respected. With the newfound belief that work should be part of who employees are, not just a way to make a living, and the expectation that employers become catalysts to fulfill worker aspirations, new career archetypes have started to emerge, changing the
talent pool.

When Gen Xers—who once viewed a job as “just a job”—were in school, Universum identified three career archetypes:

  • Careerists: Workers who want to follow a promising career path in a prestigious environment.
  • Hunters: Employees who chase lucrative and competitive jobs.
  • Leaders: Workers who search for jobs where they can further develop their leadership skills.

With the rise of the millennials in Asia, hunters are rapidly disappearing, posing a considerable problem for companies that need to hire into sales roles and are now forced to rethink these roles and how to attract applicants. Careerists are also a shrinking pool, and leaders are just as scarce today as they ever were.

Because today’s workers believe that work should be part of who they are—and not just a way to make a living—there has been a rise in four new career profiles:

  • Harmonisers: Workers who prefer a stable work environment characterised by a respectful and balanced management philosophy.
  • Idealists: Employees who are attracted to employers which have ethical and sustainable principles and values in line with their own.
  • Entrepreneurs: Workers who seek a place where they can own and solve challenging problems.
  • Internationalists: Employees who are open-minded and prefer to be connected to people on an international level by traveling and working abroad.

These are now the fastest growing career types amongst millennials across Asia. There are, however, significant local differences across countries, majors, and genders. In Singapore and Australia, for example, harmonisers make up the largest percentage in the available talent pool; in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and India, it’s internationalists; in Hong Kong and Vietnam, careerists are still the most represented; and in China, because of the recently abolished one-child policy, hunters are still available in high numbers.

Much of today’s research describes millennials as job hoppers who companies can’t rely on. However, research shows they are extremely committed and loyal when dedicated to an idea, a cause, or a product they believe in. To succeed in today’s competitive talent market, it is critical for organisations to understand the career archetypes that are most successful within their organisation across functions, and identify where to find them and how to engage them. If an organisation, for example, continues to talk about prestige and financial benefits, they will surely continue to attract careerists, but they will alienate harmonisers and idealists who are the most rapidly growing career archetypes across most markets.

Recruiting today is not about settling for a candidate based solely on grades or educational attainments, nor is it about choosing an employer based on company prestige. It’s about finding the best possible fit between the candidates’ personality and the company’s culture and environment. This is why it is so critical for companies to have a strong employer value proposition (EVP) built on solid foundations that is authentic, attractive, sustainable, differentiating, and credible. Aligning candidates with cultural fit during the hiring process is key: It leads to stronger engagement, higher retention, lower cost per hire, happier, more productive employees, and a more positive working environment.

It’s also time to say goodbye to job descriptions that list required skills and responsibilities as if it was a shopping list. When organisations describe what they really are and what they stand for, they will attract candidates who are more likely to choose them for their values and stick with them in the long run.

“What’s your personality type?” isn’t a question candidates expected to hear in an interview in the past. However, with new career archetypes emerging, more and more organisations are supporting the life careers of tomorrow’s workforce. It is by understanding life careerism—the need to uncover and embrace the values and beliefs of each career archetype and what motivates job seekers on a deeper emotional level—that employers will be able to differentiate themselves from their competitors and thereby build a sustainable advantage in talent acquisition.

Tags: Talent Acquisition

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