Use career progression as a recruitment carrot

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Organisations are not recognising career progression as a major motivator for job seekers and, as a result, are missing out on attracting the best candidates, according to new research from a global recruitment consultancy.

The latest Robert Walters report found that:


  • 80% of those surveyed would leave a role if there wasn't sufficient career progression available – and 79% of hiring managers had been given a lack of career progression as a reason for leaving a role.
  • 75% of those surveyed ask specifically about career progression during the interview process.
  • More than half (55%) of those surveyed actively seek job advertisements that promote career progression – yet only 37% of organisations address it in their job adverts.
  • 65% of organisations only address career progression in the later stages of the recruitment process.

The best talent attach very high importance to career progression, and will look for it early in the recruitment process, Richard Manthell from Robert Walters Auckland said. “Organisations need to recognise career progression as a major motivator, and make the most of every opportunity to promote their brand as an employer of choice throughout the recruitment process. Not doing so is a wasted marketing opportunity.”

The research results suggest that the best professionals want to join organisations where good career progression is offered, he said. “So, from the moment a potential employee reads a job advertisement through to when they sign their employment contract, they should feel that their future career progression is a priority for your organisation.”

If this is done successfully not only will it be easier to source quality professionals but also easier to retain them, Manthell added.

The Robert Walters report offered the following key lessons for HR:

Recognise career progression as a major motivator: Having something to aspire to and achieve is a major personal motivator for many. Presenting pathways to progression is just as important as any other aspect of a role.

Make first impressions count: The job seeking process is often the first contact with a brand, and the first impression is formed by the job advertisement. Ensure your job advertisement present a persuasive, accurate reflection of a role and what the organisation can offer. Not taking the time to include some basic information on what progression opportunities are available is a wasted branding opportunity.

Career progression doesn't have to mean a promotion: Education, training and professional development are the most sought-after career progression initiatives - so ensure they are articulated and on offer from the word go.

Don’t overpromise: Overpromising and not delivering leads to staff disengagement, and also damages your employer brand. Being honest about what you can offer and what candidates can expect, as well as following through on progression opportunities will ensure you recruit and retain the best candidate for longer. Make sure expectations are aligned from the beginning of the recruitment process.

Set consistent organisational standards and development programs:  Career progression programmes should include one or more of the following – development planning, talent identification, performance feedback, internal mobility, and training and development.

Provide the right tools to help employees manage their own career progression: Give your employees the opportunity, and encouragement, to take control of their own careers. Give them the necessary tools and feedback to progress and support their goals. Performance reviews and development planning are vital to this process, but ensure goals are measurable and the individual accountable.

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