Deal Breakers When Considering A Job Offer



Despite ongoing economic uncertainty, global and South African employers are still feeling the impact of the Great Resignation. Over three-quarters of South African employees (77%) are actively looking for a new job, and it’s not easy to win over top talent, especially in high-demand fields.



Most job candidates are aware of their attractiveness to employers: 75% of South African employees are approached multiple times per year about new job opportunities – in line with the 74% of employees around the world who are regularly approached.

In addition, 63% of South African job seekers feel that they are in a strong negotiating position when looking for a job. Only 26% feel that employers hold the reins in job offer negotiations. Confidence is highest among those who work in public service; data, science and AI; and health and social care.

These are among the findings of a new study released today by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Network, a global alliance of recruitment websites. CareerJunction, The Network partner organisation, helped with the survey in South Africa. Titled “What Job Seekers Wish Employers Knew,” the study is based on a survey of 90,547 respondents from 160 countries, including 801 from South Africa—the world’s largest survey dedicated to exploring job seekers’ recruitment preferences.

The survey reveals that the most coveted candidates in South Africa are those working in IT, finance and media, arts and design – different to the global landscape, where those approached most frequently work in IT, digital, and sales jobs.

“Employers need to be aware of where candidates are coming from and should adjust their negotiation technique accordingly,” says Rudi van Blerk, Partner and Africa People and Organisation Practice Lead at Boston Consulting Group, Johannesburg.

 “Candidates are less and less likely to simply accept an offer without asking for more. And a strong offer is no longer enough: in line with their global counterparts, over half (51%) of South African candidates will refuse a good offer if they had a negative experience during recruitment. A timely, smooth process with frequent feedback and honest conversations makes an employer stand out.”

What candidates want

Most South African respondents (72%) said that they desire, above all, a stable job with a good work-life balance – even higher than the 69% of global respondents. This preference is dominant across job roles, regions, and age groups.

Career progress at a good company comes second (69%), and working on exciting products, topics, and technologies is third (36%). These are again higher than the global average, with 14% of worldwide respondents saying they would like to join a good company and progress to leadership position and 27% saying they would like to work on exciting products, topics or technologies.

Hybrid work is still the preferred work model, with 48% of South Africans favouring that way of working – although that preference is lower than the global 54%, and reflects the decline in preference from BCG’s 2020 survey, in which 65% of respondents said they wanted a hybrid model that included two to four days of remote work per week.

Deal breakers

People may dream of a steady job with a good work-life balance for the long term, but in South Africa and across the rest of the world, candidates who are weighing a concrete job offer usually make the financial package their highest priority, and they identify inadequate salaries and bonuses as the biggest deal breakers (19% in South Africa, and 21% globally).

South Africans differ from their global counterparts in their second and third highest priorities, however, ranking job security second (18%), and retirement and insurance benefits third (15%). Globally, work-life balance ranks second (19%), and job security third (15%).

The survey also looked at respondents by age group. Compensation and job security are generally the two top priorities across age groups in South Africa, but deal breakers change significantly with age: among respondents age 60 or older, doing impactful work ranks higher than other age groups 

Myth busters

The survey’s findings include the revelation that some myths about recruiting are just that—myths. For instance, over half of South African and global respondents would refuse an otherwise attractive job offer if they had a strong negative experience during the recruitment process, and 75% of South Africans said immediate feedback after a selection step makes an employer stand out during the recrutiment process. “These results debunk the myth that if the offer is attractive, the recruitment process doesn’t matter. Candidates value clarity,” says Wiebka Cooper, Operations Manager at CareerJunction. 

Additionally, 81% of South African jobseekers still want to work the traditional five-day workweek, proving false the notion that traditional day jobs are increasingly becoming obsolete, to be replaced by part-time solutions, gigs, and side projects.

And while the digital HR market is booming, only 30% of candidates feel comfortable with AI-led interviews or preparing an introduction video of themselves, and most respondents—even those in digital fields or from younger generations—still prefer in-person application and selection channels: 70% of South African candidates prefer face-to-face interviews with a future manager.

However, online recruitment platforms remain highly effective for job searches and placement: 75% of South African candidates use online platforms when looking for a job – significantly higher than the 56% global average – and 68% apply for jobs through these platforms.

Online recruitment platforms were also the most common way candidates got their current jobs, with 26% of South African and 29% of global candidates getting their jobs this way.

What employers can do

“Employers can take a number of effective steps to maximise their attractiveness to desirable job candidates,” says Cooper. The study provides in-depth details around six key actions to consider when recruiting:

  1. Segment your approach to appeal to different target personas.
  2. Reimagine recruitment as a personal journey.
  3. Overcome your biases to increase your talent pool.
  4. Wield digital tools impactfully but selectively.
  5. Get culture fundamentals right.
  6. Re-recruit your internal talent.

“Choosing a job is one of the most important personal decisions one can make, with significant implications on one’s life. Therefore, employers can’t look at recruitment as just another corporate process. Recruitment should be about providing a positive and inspiring experience, and making a genuine human connection with the candidate,” says van Blerk.

Download the study here.


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Jobless numbers in South Africa are at an all-time-high with the unemployment rate recently hitting a new record of 35.3%.





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