The #1 Factor in Enticing a Superstar Candidate to Change Jobs
The #1 Factor in Enticing a Superstar Candidate to Change Jobs

The #1 Factor in Enticing a Superstar Candidate to Change Jobs

Superstar candidates are game changers. That’s why almost every organization would like to hire as many of them as they possibly can.

However, superstars are NOT like other candidates. That makes sense. As a result, organizations should not treat superstar candidates like other candidates. That also makes sense.

But employers need to go even beyond that. As a hiring authority, you need to know what motivates top candidates. The reason is simple: if you don’t know what motivates top candidates, then you will not ultimately be able to motivate them yourself.

So let’s day you have an open position. It has a set of job requirements and responsibilities. It has a salary, benefits, and other compensation that come with it. It has a company culture and co-workers with whom the new employee will interact.

But what is going to motivate a top candidate to consider your opportunity and want to work for your organization? A new global survey by people advisory firm Korn Ferry helps to shed some light on the answer to this question.

A discrepancy that makes sense

Korn Ferry recently surveyed nearly 2,000 professionals. In that survey, almost three-quarters of respondents (73%) indicated that if they plan on being in the job market in 2017, it’s because they’re looking for a challenge.

That’s right: a challenge.

So where did money and other compensation rank in that survey? Nowhere near the top, that’s where. Below are the rest of the reasons that professionals chose as factors in their job search:

Don’t like their company or their efforts aren’t being recognized—9%

Compensation is too low—5%

Don’t like their boss—4%

Seventy-three percent (73%) vs. five percent (5%). That’s not even close. Although it might appear to be a head-scratching discrepancy at first glance, further analysis provides enlightenment. That analysis is as follows:

  • The Korn Ferry survey did not identify how many of the 2,000 professionals were considered at the top of their field. It stands to reason that professionals who are at the top of their field are even more inclined to be motivated by a challenge.
  • Compensation is not as much of a concern to top candidates (especially superstars) because they’re already being compensated quite well. The value that they provide to their employer is abundantly evident and it can be clearly proven. As a result, their employer is more than happy to compensate them in a commensurate fashion. These types of candidates know they can get the money. It’s other things they crave and that motivate them.
  • Top candidates (and once again, especially superstars) are hard-wired to crave a challenge. It’s in their DNA, so to speak. They’re intrinsically motivated to excel and to achieve more, as opposed to being extrinsically motivated by external factors such as money or other compensation. This is one of the most important reasons to not treat top candidates like other candidates.

With all of this in mind, what should organizations do? How should they position themselves to attract the type of candidates they want to hire?

Continually emphasize the challenge

The results of the Korn Ferry survey make the answer to this question a rather easy one. Organizations must continually emphasize the challenges associated with their open position all throughout the hiring process.

In other articles and blog posts on the The VET Recruiter website, I’ve stated that companies have to “sell” during the hiring process. This is critical when dealing with top candidates. That’s because these candidates are more likely to receive multiple offers of employment and they are also in danger of receiving a counter-offer from their current employer.

So if you put that advice and the results of the Korn Ferry survey together, this is what organizations should do:

  • Emphasize the challenges of the position in the job description. This is before the search for candidates is even undertaken. A great hiring process starts with a great job description.
  • Emphasize the challenges of the position during the face-to-face interview. Top candidates want to be challenged. They do NOT shy away from a challenge. They welcome it.
  • Emphasize the challenges associated with working for your organization. Talk about the vision that the company has for the future and how the candidate would fit into that vision if they were hired as an employee. Paint a picture of the future that includes them as a vital piece of that future.

Then, when you’ve emphasized the many challenges associated with the position to convince a top candidate to accept your offer of employment, you must retain that candidate as an employee. It might not surprise you to know that the things that attracted the candidate to your organization in the first place are the same things that will keep that person employed with you.

Top candidates who become valued employees want to advance through the ranks. They want to move up the executive ladder and grow their careers. As an employer, you must provide opportunities for them to do just that. That involves doing the following four things:

  1. Offering training related to their individual skills or an area within the industry overall
  2. Assigning them to important projects that are essential to the company’s goals for growth
  3. Asking them specifically which challenges they would like to tackle and why
  4. Mapping out a career path for them at your organization and discussing exactly what they have to do to embark upon it

As we’ve stated before, hiring the best candidates in the marketplace does not mean much if you can not retain those candidates as employees. What motivates top candidates, especially superstars, is not what motivates typical, average candidates.

But you’re not looking to hire typical, average candidates, are you?

Hiring the best requires the best approach to hiring, and emphasizing the challenges associated with your position, the company, and the company’s future holds the key to doing it the right way.

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of organizations. If this is something you would like to explore further, please send an email to