Size isn't everything for today's recruits

Contrary to employers' perceptions, most candidates reckon SMEs have more to offer than corporates.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Companies might think that being the biggest and best is enough to attract candidates, but it’s no longer the case, according to new research by recruitment firm Angela Mortimer. Apparently almost two-thirds of employers thought that being a market leader was the key to attracting good candidates – but in fact, the majority are more interested in the working environment and opportunities for progression. Which means that contrary to general belief, SMEs may actually have more to offer potential recruits than larger firms. Though you might argue that in the current climate, beggars can’t be choosers…

Around the country and even across Europe, the employers polled rated market leadership as one of a candidate’s three top priorities. However, they’re clearly out of touch: when candidates were asked the same question, it never once appeared in the top three. Instead, candidates (wherever they are) consistently said that a good work environment, great career progression and a good salary were the most important factors in attracting them to a company.

This suggests that SMEs may actually have more of an advantage in the job market than some of them think. In the old days, career progression was all about having big names on your CV. In the era of Generation Y, although that’s still important, it’s by no means the be all and end all: recruits are far more concerned about their place of work, and value companies who are more willing to be flexible about how they work (as SMEs generally are). So even if they lag behind slightly on salary, Angela Mortimer reckons that around 60% of candidates would pick an SME over a corporate, as long as the gap wasn’t too big – because they’re nicer places to work.

Of course there’s a fairly major caveat to all this. Candidates can afford to be a lot choosier when the employment market is buoyant. At the moment, with the economy still under water and the jobless count rising fast, it’s not impossible that they’ll see large corporates as a rather safer bet than SMEs. Or to look at it another way: anyone currently job-hunting (particularly Generation Y types coming out of university) will presumably count themselves lucky to get a job of any sort at the moment...

In today's bulletin:
No full recovery for UK until 2014, says NIESR
No Jobs crunch at Apple as sales rise 12%
Editor's blog: Private school-bashing and social mobility
Sven Goran Eriksson goes into turnaround
Size isn't everything for today's recruits

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