UK job candidates are increasingly turning their backs on the traditional pre-recession career models and are looking more towards added job benefits, such as flexible working, according to new research from specialist recruitment company, PageGroup.

The Candidates and Careers: A Step Change report, looks at what today’s candidates consider important in a job role and what motivates them. Over 1,000 respondents took part in the survey, 51 percent were male and 49 percent were female.

The survey discovered that although many were focused on building a career path right for them, on both a professional and personal level, businesses however, are falling behind when it comes to understanding and meeting this demand.

Oliver Watson, managing director, PageGroup, says:

“As candidates become more confident and bullish, and start to look at their next career moves, employers must prepare for acceleration in job activity and ultimately evolve in line with candidate perspectives. The economic crash and subsequent impact on businesses across the globe has created a significant shift in how candidates approach their careers and what was offered by businesses five to ten years ago is no longer a draw.”

The data also reveals a significant increase in the number of candidates searching for new roles, with new job applications up 71 percent compared with levels in 2009. This has created a war for talent, with UK businesses struggling to compete in a limited recruitment pool, meaning businesses need to do more to attract the best candidates.

Candidates now aspire to achieve a better work-life balance. Respondents are found to be more motivated by the flexible working opportunities compared to when they started their career, with 57 percent of respondents highlighting this as a key motivator. However, only 17 percent of respondents have been exposed to the option of flexible working within the past 12 months, which shows a clear divide between businesses and candidates.

Employees are no longer drawn in by the ‘BigCo recruitment’, with 13 percent of UK employees identifying company brand and reputation as a primary consideration when accepting their current role.

Jobs are no longer ‘for life’ with long-term service low as candidates are less committed to traditional career paths, with just 12 percent of respondents reporting that they have been employed in their current role for over ten years. Over one quarter (28%) said they have been in their current role for three-five years.

Traditional ‘bread and butter’ considerations, such as salary and location, have traditionally influenced career paths but other factors are now influencing career choices and decisions in the workplace. Company culture is now more important to respondents aged 28-30, with 45 percent showing motivation as a result of this compared to when they started their careers.

Commenting on the findings, Watson explains,

“There’s simply no denying that today’s candidates are almost unrecognisable from the pre-recession working landscape  – and our research highlights just what it is that sets them apart. With business starting to boom, candidates can now look at opportunities to shape their careers, rather than let their careers shape them.”

“Ultimately, the key to success lies in businesses understanding the needs of today’s candidates. We tend to see a pattern of ‘recruiting for the right now’, with businesses adopting a short-term approach to recruiting candidates in order to meet increased demand from an improved market. Businesses need to think of the future and must begin to think of the long-term needs. Those that are agile in their recruitment processes and that take the time to understand the changing priorities for candidates within a role will take the lead in recruiting the best talent.”