How to Adapt to Candidate-Led Markets

In today’s job market, candidates are in control. They have more choices than ever before, and they’re not afraid to ask for what they want. This can be a challenge for businesses, but it can also be an opportunity.

I’ve been a tech recruiter for 20 years, and I’ve seen the job market change dramatically over that time. In the past, businesses had the upper hand. They could dictate the terms of employment, and candidates were lucky to get a job. But today, the tables have turned. Candidates have more choices than ever before, and they’re not afraid to ask for what they want.

This is what I call a “candidate-led market.” In a candidate-led market, candidates have the power. They can choose the jobs they want, the companies they want to work for, and the terms of employment they want.

So, what does this mean for businesses? It means that businesses need to adapt to the changing needs of candidates. They need to offer competitive salaries, benefits, and working conditions. They also need to be flexible and transparent.

Here are some specific examples of how businesses can adapt to candidate-led markets:

  • Offer flexible/remote working. Many candidates are looking for jobs that offer flexible or remote work. This could mean the ability to work from home, work part-time, or take time off when needed.
  • Focus on values. Of course, this doesn’t mean hiring someone entirely different from what you need, but in many circumstances, skills can be learned, be open to candidates who add to your culture and values, show promise and allow them to step into the role. In my experience, candidates are very pleased when afforded the opportunity to learn something new and often the company is rewarded by a happier, more loyal, and enthusiastic employee.
  • Listen to your existing team. Do you have a structure in place where issues are communicated? Does the team feel they can speak honestly and openly or confidentially without repercussion? Don’t leave it until an exit interview, when things are too late.  

By adapting to candidate-led markets, businesses can attract and hire the best talent. This will lead to improved productivity and profitability.

In addition to the benefits I’ve already mentioned, being flexible in a candidate-led market can also offer a number of other benefits for businesses. For example, it can:

  • Increase employee satisfaction. Employees who are in their optimal work environment are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs. This can lead to increased productivity, decreased turnover, and improved morale.
  • Improve company culture. A flexible work environment can help to create a more positive and inclusive company culture. This can attract and retain top talent, and it can also improve diversity, employee engagement, and productivity.
  • Enhanced innovation. A flexible work environment can help to foster creativity and innovation. When employees feel like they have the freedom to work in the way that best suits them, they’re more likely to come up with new ideas and solutions.

Overall, being flexible in a candidate-led market can offer a number of benefits for businesses. By adapting to the changing needs of candidates, businesses can attract and hire the best talent, improve employee satisfaction, and enhance company culture.

If you’re a founder, C-suite, or hiring manager, I encourage you to adapt to the changing needs of candidates. By doing so, you can attract and hire the best talent, which will lead to improved productivity and profitability.

If you don’t have an EVP (Employee Value Proposition), however formal or informal, I would strongly suggest creating one, documenting what you have, what you want to get to, and how you are going to achieve it.

Remote or office-based – what’s the big deal? As long as the work is getting done! Right?

With many high-profile companies signaling the end of remote work or at least a decrease in remote work, I wanted to explore the considerations in full.

The benefits of remote work are well-known, so I won’t go into detail here.

For employees:

  • Travel costs are lower.
  • Less time spent traveling and reduced stress from commuting.
  • Potentially less distractions.
  • Improved work-life balance.
  • Ability to set up your work environment how you like it.

For employers:

  • Cost savings – lower overheads and operating costs.
  • Access to a wider talent pool.
  • Assists diversity and inclusion, especially when it’s flexible (remote ≠ flexible).
  • Reduction in absenteeism.
  • Productivity improves.
  • Loyalty increases.
  • Forces modernization and technology adoption.

However, it’s the disadvantages and potential downsides where things get a little more complicated.

For employees

  • Visibility for promotion: When you’re not in the office, it can be harder for your manager and other decision-makers to see your work, accomplishments, how you deal with challenges, and your communication with other employees. This can make it more difficult to get promoted.
  • Separating work and home: It can be challenging to create a clear boundary between work and personal time when you’re working from home. This can lead to burnout, as you may find yourself working longer hours or checking work emails outside of work hours.
  • Distractions: When you’re working from home, there are many more potential distractions than there are in an office. Whether it be household chores, pets, family, or perhaps without direct supervision you have a tendency to procrastinate.
  • Meeting overload: What could be a quick question in the office may turn into an ineffective meeting when working remotely. In an effort to boost communication and collaboration too many meetings are booked with too many people.
  • Learning and growth opportunities: It can be harder to learn new skills and grow your career when you’re not in the office and interacting with your colleagues. This is because you miss out on the informal learning that happens naturally in the office, such as asking questions and brainstorming ideas with your colleagues.
  • Communication: You miss out on the informal but important chats that happen naturally in the office. Not only for building relationships with colleagues but keeping up to date on projects, asking quick questions, and nudging a colleague politely that you are waiting on something from them.
  • Innovation: It can be harder to be innovative and feel connected to the business when you’re not in the office. You may miss out on the day-to-day interactions with customers, clients, and other stakeholders, understanding those things that will really make a difference and need to get done.
  • Loneliness/isolation: It can be lonely working from home all day, and you may miss the social interaction of the office. This can lead to isolation and depression.
  • Increased technology dependency: You become more reliant on technology when you’re working remotely. This can lead to burnout, as you may be constantly checking emails, messages, and other notifications.

For employers

  • Difficulty onboarding new hires: It can be more difficult to onboard new hires when they’re not in the office. This is because you miss out on the opportunity to tangibly introduce them to the company culture and team members in person.
  • Identifying training needs: The work might be getting done, but you may not be able to see the challenges that remote employees are facing, which can make it difficult to identify the training and support they need.
  • Identifying leadership potential: Those informal interactions in the office, the help provided, the suggestions, and the attitude can’t be seen as easily in a remote environment.
  • Security risks: The risk of data breaches, sensitive or confidential information being misplaced, malware or network intrusions are reportedly far greater.
  • Team building: Getting to know people on video is far different than in the office or the after-work social, familiarity builds trust
  • Collaboration: Even with some amazing tech to assist collaboration, sometimes the best ideas occur outside of meetings and formal situations, and getting validation for ideas is less simple. Familiarity with the work of others is limited when you aren’t in close proximity.
  • Fostering a company culture: That sense of community and belonging is harder to feel a part of. Successes of the team may feel intangible.
  • Employees feeling disconnected: When employees don’t feel part of something it can lead to a lack of motivation and engagement.

So, what can be done to ensure remote working is actually working?

Here are a few tips:

Visibility for promotion:

  • Set clear expectations and guidelines for remote employees. This should include what is expected of them in terms of their work output, communication, and availability.
  • Provide regular feedback and performance reviews. This will help employees track their progress and identify areas where they can improve.
  • Encourage remote employees to participate in company events and activities. This will help them stay connected to the company and their colleagues.
  • Consider implementing a formal mentorship program for remote employees. This will give them the opportunity to learn from and network with more experienced employees.

Separating work and home:

  • Encourage remote employees to set up a dedicated workspace in their homes, if possible, and get to know their individual circumstances to support their needs. This will help them create a clear boundary between work and personal time.
  • Set clear boundaries with family members or housemates. Let them know when you are available and unavailable.
  • Take breaks throughout the day to get away from your computer and relax.
  • Exercise regularly. This will help you reduce stress and improve your overall well-being.


  • Identify the distractions that are most common for you and develop strategies to deal with them. For example, if you find yourself getting distracted by social media, try turning off your notifications or using a website blocker.
  • Set aside specific times for checking email and social media. This will help you avoid checking them constantly throughout the day.
  • Take breaks throughout the day to get away from your computer and work on something else. This will help you stay focused and productive.

Meeting overload:

  • Use video conferencing tools to make meetings more efficient. This will help you avoid having to travel to meetings and save time.
  • Have a clear and written agenda with clear expectations for meetings. This should include the purpose of the meeting, who should attend, and what should be accomplished.
  • Keep meetings short and to the point.
  • Don’t over-invite.

Learning and growth opportunities:

  • Encourage remote employees to take online courses or workshops. This will help them stay up-to-date on the latest trends in their field.
  • Provide remote employees with access to mentorship programs and other resources. This will help them develop their skills and knowledge.
  • Encourage remote employees to network with colleagues and other professionals in their field. This will help them stay connected and learn from others.

Informal learning moments and communication:

  • Use instant messaging or video conferencing tools to stay connected with colleagues.
  • Encourage remote employees to participate in company chat rooms or forums.
  • Schedule regular team lunches or coffee breaks. This will give remote employees the opportunity to socialize and connect with their colleagues. Think speed-dating for work.


  • Encourage remote employees to share their ideas and suggestions.
  • Give remote employees the opportunity to work on projects that they are passionate about.
  • Provide remote employees with access to the same information and resources as in-office employees.
  • Share company objectives regularly, share challenges and priorities for different teams within the organisation and encourage people to ask questions.


  • Encourage remote employees to stay connected with their colleagues and friends. This could involve setting up regular video calls or coffee breaks.
  • Encourage remote employees to join clubs or groups related to their interests.
  • Provide remote employees with access to mental health resources.

Increased technology dependency:

  • Encourage remote employees to take breaks throughout the day to get away from their computers and relax.
  • Encourage phone calls, where appropriate.
  • Have days with no online meetings or dont expect responses to BAU emails on some days.
  • Provide remote employees with ergonomic equipment to help prevent injuries.

Being a manager of a remote team comes with its own unique challenges; empathy is key! Taking time to understand, regularly, each person’s situation, challenges, desires etc can be so valuable in helping to appreciate and work towards mitigating many of the potential problems outlined above.

The decision of whether to work remotely or in the office is a complex one.

There are pros and cons to both approaches. Ultimately, the best approach for a particular company or employee will depend on a variety of factors and even within a company, different teams may benefit from different approaches.

Tips for writing a great CV

Now, I’m not a professional CV writer who will go through your background tooth and nail to pick out every skill and minor achievement and consolidate those into a perfectly drafted document, but I have over 20 years of recruitment experience so probably seen over 100,000 CVs, some good, some not so.

The role of a CV shouldn’t be taken lightly, it could be the difference between being invited for an interview or not so make sure its doing its job and telling your story the right way.

There is a stat I recall, I don’t know how accurate, that someone will spend 6 seconds looking at your CV before making a decision. I hope its wrong, but its good to have that in mind so you adapt it so the relevant information is easy to find.

  1. Keep It Concise – A CV should include the most important information about you and should be kept concise. Best practice is reverse chronological (i.e. most recent first), and assuming your relevant experience is the most recent, include more about this than that of your first job (if it was many years ago). Use bullet points.It doesn’t need to be kept to 2 pages, but anything over 4 and you are probably losing your reader.
  2. Highlight Your Achievements – Make sure to highlight your key achievements and successes which could help you stand out from other applicants. This is probably the most common omission I see on CVs, listing your duties will get you so far, but if you want to differentiate yourself from others this is a way to do it.
  3. If you have external links to your GitHub repo or portfolio then ensure these have decent content and arent a graveyard of your old work.
  4. Explain gaps. Rather than leaving the reader with questions, give them answers.
  5. Accuracy is important. Don’t exaggerate, check your dates and certainly don’t make stuff up. I would even go so far as to remove old tech skills that you only worked on for one semester or over 10 years ago for one project. Be prepared to answer questions about anything on your CV and if you aren’t confident with it, leave it out, or make it very clear it’s minor knowledge (see point 1 – be concise).
  6. If you are including a summary or profile then make it useful, not just a load of meaningless fluff.
  7. Make sure your contact information is included, correct, and up to date. Sounds obvious, but you’ll be surprised.
  8. Be aware of your language, I don’t mean foul language, with more and more automation being used think about the terms that you use and what keywords may get picked up by systems. Avoid using uncommon acronyms, or provide an explanation if you do.
  9. Lastly, and just as important. make sure you proofread it and ideally get someone else to proof it too.

Interviewing for Cultural Add: Crafting the Perfect Interview Questions

As we looked at in a previous article, Cultural Add or Cultural Contribution alongside ‘fit’ can be a very important element of assessment for hiring, but how does one go about determining if a candidate meets this criteria?

Firstly, we must understand that in many cases Hiring for culture fit began to be confused with hiring for similar personal backgrounds, interests, or even appearances. That mindset could result in companies full of employees who looked, thought, and acted alike. This often would lead to discrimination and stagnation in company growth and innovation.

Before thinking about questions for the candidate, there are questions you should go over before and after you’ve interviewed a promising candidate. They help determine what exactly you are looking for, why you require that, and how a person can fulfil that need.

  • What gaps in our company’s knowledge or culture can this candidate fill?
  • Does the candidate have skills in new processes or techniques that we would benefit from having?
  • Could this employee challenge our way of thinking and suggest improvements to our processes?
  • Does this candidate represent a voice or viewpoint for our customers that we lack? Would they help us better communicate with potential customers by having this voice or perspective?

Crafting the Perfect Questions

When it comes to crafting the perfect interview questions to assess cultural contribution, the key is knowing what is important to your organization. Is it service-mindedness, team work traditions, or a particular way of working? Once you know what you are looking for, you can craft the perfect questions to assess this.

For example, if you are looking for a service-minded attitude, you might ask questions such as:

  • How do you handle difficult customer requests?
  • What have you done to ensure customer satisfaction?
  • How do you approach problem solving with a customer?

What are some other common culture add interview questions?

Here are some questions hiring managers can ask in a culture add interview.

  • Describe a time when you helped a coworker or direct report with a work problem.
  • Describe a time when you received feedback from a supervisor or someone on another team. How did you react? What was the result? What lessons did you learn? 
  • How do you measure success at work? How does a successful day at work look for you? 
  • A team member calls in sick 2 hours before a team presentation is scheduled. What do you do?
  • What does a healthy work-life balance look like for you?
  • In what ways do your colleagues benefit from working with you as opposed to one of your coworkers? 
  • Tell me about a time when understanding someone else’s perspective helped you accomplish a goal or resolve a conflict. 
  • What is your impression of our company’s culture, values, and mission? 
  • From your perspective, how do you think we can improve our culture or values? What values would you bring to our organization? 
  • Tell us about a time when you came across a situation or decision that you didn’t agree with. How did you handle it?
  • What’s something you’ve learned in the past year that you’re proud of? 
  • Tell us about a time when you changed your perspective about a situation or issue at work. What happened, and what was the end result? 
  • How do you like to be managed? What characteristics do you look for in a leader? 
  • How do you typically approach working through a tough problem? What’s your approach to teamwork and collaboration? 
  • What key values or behaviours are most important to you in a company?
  • How do you see your personal value system aligning with the organization?  
  • Tell us about a time you learned something you’ve never done before. How did you approach it? What was the outcome? 
  • What attracts you to the company values? How do our core values align with your own personal value system? 

The questions you ask will depend on what you are looking for? But being aware of what you want and why will go a long way.

Hiring for Culture Fit vs. Culture Add

Cultural fit is often cited as one of the key criteria for new hires, which is all well and good but if you base your hiring decisions on culture fit, you can be promoting bias (especially unconscious bias).Also, similar-minded, uniform groups can foster groupthink, which can lead to negativity or even animosity in the workplace.

Groupthink as the name suggests is the tendency for people to unanimously support a popular opinion or decision. Choosing group consensus over thinking critically. When groupthink happens, people silence their own objective thoughts in favour of conforming.

When it comes to hiring decisions, it’s important to consider both the candidate’s cultural fit and their ability to add to the existing culture. Cultural fit is a good indicator of how well an individual will fit into the organization, but it shouldn’t be the only factor. Evaluating a candidate’s cultural contribution will provide a more complete picture of the value they can bring to an organization. Some research tells us that cultural fit can actually be detrimental to your organization’s success. Hiring for culture fit can be extremely detrimental to your belonging, equity, inclusion, and diversity efforts as well as inhibiting growth and innovation.  

Culture Fit

Culture fit considers how a candidate’s values and beliefs align with the organization’s values and beliefs. It determines whether a new hire can work well with existing members of the team and integrate into the existing culture. Candidates with a high degree of cultural fit will likely be able to adjust quickly and become productive quickly. So its very easy to understand why this is an important element when deciding who to hire.

Culture Add

Culture add essentially looks at how a new hire can contribute to and expand the existing culture. It evaluates a candidate’s capacity to bring new perspectives, skills, and expertise to the table. It’s an important factor to consider when an organization is aiming to innovate or make a shift in direction.

By taking both culture fit and culture add into account, organizations can ensure they are making the best possible hiring decisions and maximizing their potential for innovation and growth. This is especially important as organizations become increasingly global and diverse, as different cultures can bring unique perspectives that can drive change and help expand the existing culture.

In summary, examining a candidate’s cultural fit and cultural contribution can provide a more comprehensive understanding of their potential value to an organization. When making hiring decisions, look for candidates who can not only fit into the existing culture, but can also add something meaningful and unique. By doing so, organizations can ensure they are making the best possible hiring decisions and unlocking their full potential.

Look out for the next post which will provide some examples on how you can interview for Culture Add.

Unlock the Potential of Your timid interviewees

Do you ever interview people where you feel they maybe have more to offer than they are letting on? Not everyone is good at “selling themselves” after all.

I bet you have had a worker who has been great at their job but is a little timid or introverted, does your interview process encourage success for these types of individuals?

Continue reading “Unlock the Potential of Your timid interviewees”