Companies or Candidates – who has more power now?

Companies or Candidates – who has more power now?

Ah, the Elf on the Shelf – this will always be a long-standing memory with me.  There are so many variations of the Elf on a Shelf – in many homes and families, it’s almost a tradition to have one of these imps somewhere in your home at Christmas time.

This photo was sent to me by my son and I just love the mask and hand sanitize which seems so normal now!

While I was looking at this and reminiscing, a thought also struck me.

Having collectively gone through the year we just had; many things had changed (duh!)

Even though we might now be seeing familiarity in some form returning in our world (in Australia at least), for sure there are certain dynamics in our life and workplace that have changed possibly for ever or for the long term at least.

Being in recruitment, whose job it is to find talented individuals to fulfil roles in the workforce – is an area we’re seeing an interesting shift in the balance of power.

It used to be that when a company put up a hiring notice, they would be inundated with applications.

For the hiring company, it was an ‘acre of diamonds’ to choose from.  Ultimately, they could pick and choose the best of the best.

Fast forward to today – there is a significant number of hiring companies and industries who are desperately struggling to fulfil open roles which are adversely affecting the company’s productivity.

Just look at our farmers who traditionally would have relied on a transient work force as a labour resource.  Yet today, they are almost begging anyone to come and help them out.

In essence, it’s the qualified, talented and value-adding job seeker who has the balance of power on their side.

Now, at the expense of jumping on the ‘it’s all Job Keepers fault’ bandwagon, there are deeper underlying currents that are driving this shift of balance.

We are in a different era now and here’s a short list of what has changed in the recruiting landscape in terms of the new wants from candidates.


In days gone page, culture was seen, by both companies and candidates, as some intangible textbook concept.

In 2020, the value of culture has been heightened to the forefront particularly in our younger and more adaptable workforce.

  • Black Lives Matter
  • Diversity and Inclusivity
  • LGBTQI acceptance
  • Health and cleanliness
  • And of course, every voice matters

These are strong movements with strong forces driving them – which in turn have strong influences on whether a candidate chooses to move from where they are.

One of the more obvious questions being asked by candidates of their prospective new employer is ‘how did you deal with the pandemic’ and ‘what are your specific COVID19 safe plans’?

The response to these and similar questions, sets the cultural tone of the business.

Work/Life Balance

For so many years, trying to achieve the work/life balance was the holy grail for both employers and employee.

In our new era, the work from home concept has now been legitimised.

Any many, if not all, businesses have pronounced that they did not lose productivity because of employees working from home – if anything, many reported improved levels.

So now a candidate will ask ‘how often am I expected to come into the office?’

And while each company is different, the response to this new expectation will determine the candidate’s choice.

Mental Health

If anything, 2020 has reaffirmed the criticality of maintaining positive mental health.

If having to travel 2 hours a day, then having to work an 8 hour day with all the associated stress and pressure wasn’t enough to induce mental health issues, the whole lockdown scenario brought on another layer of mental health challenges.

So, while working from home may seem like a dream to us – the isolation can also bring along its own issues.

Companies are now required to engage much more proactively in dealing with mental health, they now need to address it before it becomes a problem.

And guess what?  Candidates will want to know what you have in place to ensure a positive and constructive mental health workplace – both on and off premises.

The Recruitment Process

A recruitment process that takes too long with no communication from the employer has always been a bug bear with candidates.

Let’s be honest, almost all candidates would be totally fine with knowing they were progressing to the next stage or not within a week or two of them being interviewed.

We’re now seeing candidates withdraw their applications simply because the process was taking way too long resulting in them being left in a holding pattern.

The process of the job hunt is now part of life for many candidates – so if they need to abandon an application and start over again, they will do so without resistance and with resilience.

So, when I ask the question ‘who has more power’ – this is not meant to have a go at candidates or even business – rather, it’s to highlight a changing landscape – which personally, I feel is for the better for both employers and employees.

Remember, happy employees = higher productivity.

Finally, from all of us here, we wish you a truly relaxing Christmas and a safe and healthy 2021.