Power Shift — Top Talent Can Afford to Be Picky

September 11th, 2007

A new survey from recruiters Robert Half International and reveals that the war for talent is in full effect and that top candidates are taking advantage of their bargaining muscle. A few very interesting stats:


  • 6 out of 10 hiring managers complained of difficulties in finding fully qualified people. Nearly two thirds felt that the environment will be just as challenging next year and more than a quarter said they believe that hiring willl be even more challenging.
  • 6 out of 10 candidates said they would be likely to negotiate a better compensation package today, compared with just under 3 out of 10 who felt the same way last year.

What do these numbers mean? "With an employee-driven market comes a shift in negotiating power," Matt Ferguson, chief executive of, said in a press release.
The survey also found that hiring firms are responding to the shift by intensifying their efforts to attract and retain star performers. Nearly a third of firms had put new staff retention programs into place over the last twelve months.
Interestingly, the research also revealed that companies and workers have different ideas about which benefits inspire loyalty.

Companies focused on offering bonuses and higher pay (23% and 16% of responding companies, respectively). While more money is always a good thing, employees said that they were more likely to choose one job over another based on factors such as flexible schedules (65%) and telecommuting opportunities (33%).

I think that both companies and employees should pay a lot of attention to this survey. Its findings closely correspond with what I heard from hundreds of corporate employees during the research for my upcoming book.

If you’re a hiring manager at a big firm, the message is clear. Flexibility is extremely important to today’s best and brightest. Yes, people want to be paid fairly, but they also want to have lives outside of the office.

If you’re a top performer, this research is a good reminder that there is no need to settle for working at a company that doesn’t treat you well or in a job that doesn’t inspire you. You’ve got the leverage to pick and choose.

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and deserve when it comes to compensation and benefits. I know firsthand from my interviews that there are companies out there that are willing to invest in you and keeping you happy and productive.

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