It’s still relatively early days in 2024, but as you know, the job market is pleasantly, and unexpectedly busy . This means that I have already had the pleasure of talking with many job seekers, and I’ve started to form a clear picture of some emerging trends about the big ticket, candidate wish list items.

None of these points, individually, will be a big surprise, to anyone who has had responsibility for hiring. But it’s interesting to see the combination of benefits and requirements that emerge as the top wish list package.

My belief is that what candidates are asking for always reveals something of the climate of the employment market, and more broadly, New Zealand society, and what’s going on in the world. Therefore, as I write this in late January 2024, here’s what are currently the top five items on the average job seeker's wish list (plus one bonus item):

1. A ‘decent’ salary.  

Big surprise to absolutely no one, the cost-of-living remains an issue and employees want to be compensated fairly for their work. It’s of note that I am not seeing hugely unrealistic demands, but candidates have a sense of  what’s perceived as ‘fair’ and are knowledgeable about market rates—so make sure you are too.

As an aside, if you haven’t got one already, having a strategy and structure in place for remuneration in your business, makes decision making around setting salaries for roles much easier, and clearer – and keeps costs controlled. Our HR team  can help with designing this simple process.  

A further note on salaries: if you aren’t advertising a salary or salary band for your vacant role (something I strongly encourage, though we can work around it, if it isn’t possible in your biz)  then be prepared to discuss dollars early on in the process. I’m talking during your initial screening phone calls or whatever your step one looks like. This helps you to avoid wasting both your time, and that of the job seeker, and makes for an all-round, more candidate-friendly process.

2. Flexibility

You knew you would be reading this word, didn’t you?!  It’s 2024 so of course flexibility is in our top 5 list. Do not despair, if, for whatever good reason your organisation is unable to offer fully-remote work. In fact, that’s not what most job seekers are looking for, my take is that it’s more about an attitude towards flexibility. Flex in the hours, location, start and finish times, and of course, the sought-after hybrid arrangement, are all big draw cards too. Having flexibility in some form, whatever it is, says the ‘right’ things about your organisation as a work destination.

3. Extra benefits and perks—with meaning

There’s been a lot of chatter about perks in recent years along the lines of ‘talented candidates don’t care about coffee machines and pool tables’. While there is truth in this, the other side of this conversation is that real, impactful perks such as health insurance, gym memberships (side note: anything with a health-focus is popular) vehicle, or clothing allowances, parking, bonuses, and discounts on products (the latter are about saving those hard earned salary dollars), all go a long way to making your role and organisation attractive. In fact, it’s the extras that could be the deciding factor for excellent candidates juggling multiple offers.

4. Stability and growth

Yes, the market is buzzing and there are lots of job seekers out there seeking a change, however, once that change is made, the indications are then that these new employees want to settle in, do good work, and enjoy some peace, stability, and a decent tenure.  I’m hearing this time and time again, great candidates are looking for their next home.

To leverage this when looking to hire, you should be talking about your organisation’s long term plans, your successes so far and expected in the future, and also talk about the potential for growth within your business.

5. Purpose

There’s just something about the experiences of recent years that has made people look for a deeper meaning, and a sense of fulfilment in their daily work.  Purpose can be found everywhere, and in anything, so if you don’t already share this information, it’s worth doing a bit of work uncovering what existing employees find purposeful in the work you do, and then include this in your recruitment advertising.

Bonus item: Culture

The other thing I hear a LOT from the job seekers that I interact with is that they are looking for a ‘good team and working culture’.  Of course, the challenging part is understanding and defining what this ‘good’ looks like, it can mean different things to different people, and there are myriad versions. The core essence of this desire though, is what matters. Potential new employees want to join a positive environment, so if you know your people are on the whole, happy at work,  your engagement rates  are high, and you believe you’ve got good culture, then find a way to record this and share it.  Videos featuring real life employees happily going about their daily work are an excellent way to demonstrate this, plus are a useful tool in the recruiting process and addition to your employment brand kit.

Above I have outlined what the job seekers I am interacting with, state as their main desires, when it comes to securing a new role in 2024. How does your organisation stack up?  Have you got these in place?  

It remains a competitive market in which to hire, and even if unemployment rises rapidly, or there are suddenly more candidates available, quite frankly, I don’t think we are ever going back to the days when the employer holds all the cards. Times have changed, recruitment is a proper two-way arrangement, and job seekers are looking for the complete package. This is particularly interesting to see in the younger generation entering the job market, which is a topic I will explore in a future blog post.

Comments or questions?  I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me on +64 9 300 7224 or email

Photo by Liza Summer @ Pexels