As Canadian employers navigate a tight labour market and a potential recession, building a loyal and resilient workforce is a top priority. If you're using a one-size-fits-all approach to recruitment and hiring, it's time to think again — a more nuanced strategy can help you attract a wider range of quality candidates.

While you build a bigger talent pool, it's helpful to understand how candidates' preferences affect their hiring needs. That way, you can change course and attract groups that often have dramatically different priorities:

Man setting at his desk in a home office, seen from above. Meeting colleagues in an online meeting.
Man setting at his desk in a home office, seen from above. Meeting colleagues in an online meeting.

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why does a flexible strategy matter?

Hiring could be a challenge in 2023 and beyond. According to Statistics Canada, 36.9% of companies across the nation are finding it difficult to hire skilled employees.

As employers compete for candidates, workers have more leverage. Businesses that can adapt quickly and meet job seekers' expectations will have a leg up when it comes to securing and holding onto strong employees. 

Given the ongoing economic challenges arising from inflation and supply chain disruptions, even a small advantage can help your company succeed in the long term.

It's also important to note that employee priorities have changed in the past few years. As workers reconsider their work-life balance, they're increasingly interested in flexible arrangements. What's more, they're willing to quit or accept lower-paying jobs to get what they want.

For your company to thrive and overcome the labour shortage — which is likely to persist through an eventual recession — adaptability is key.

how to adapt recruitment and hiring to candidate preferences

By tailoring your recruiting and hiring strategies to candidates' needs, you can create a stronger connection. That doesn't mean you need to overhaul the entire recruitment and hiring process; small shifts can have significant results. 

Our research, conducted in partnership with Ipsos, supports the need for varied strategies to grow your candidate pool.

men vs. women

Perhaps unsurprisingly, men and women have different priorities when it comes to work. If you're looking to reduce turnover in a tough hiring market, consider focusing on women's needs. About 32% of women have changed jobs in the past 2 years, compared to 24% of men.

Female job seekers are largely concerned with compensation and the location of the workplace. About 55% of women prioritize salary, and 51% see location as a significant factor. Women are also more interested in the ability to work remotely than men, so it's important to mention if a position comes with a hybrid or work-from-home arrangement.

As you recruit women, consider emphasizing the skills a position requires. Female candidates are almost twice as likely to prefer that employers focus less on a consistent work history. You can also appeal to people who are returning to work after a long absence by showcasing training options.

When you're working with male candidates, take care to highlight your company's appreciation and reward programs. About 40% of male job seekers want employers that recognize their contributions. They're also more likely than women to keep considering other job offers during your hiring process, so it's important to move quickly.

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younger vs. older candidates

Age-inclusive recruiting gives you access to a larger talent pool. In many cases, you'll find quality candidates that competitors have overlooked.

If you're thinking about hiring young workers, remember that their work history is limited. Instead of hiring and setting compensation based on years of experience, use skills-based targets. While you're at it, avoid saying 'we are family' in reference to your company; 29% of younger job seekers see it as a red flag.

Young job seekers are all about speed, so keep interview rounds short — 21% of workers between the ages of 18 and 34 have taken another job during the hiring process, compared to just 4% of people aged 55 or older.

Older candidates, with their experience and insight, respond differently to job postings. In particular, they're wary of the phrase, 'salary is negotiable.' State your salary range clearly to avoid missing out on people who are uncomfortable asking for more money.

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No matter which age group you're targeting, an excellent onboarding program is a must. It helps you retain younger hires, who are more likely to leave during the first month to accept a better position. Older workers will probably stick around, but they approach the first weeks with a critical eye. A comprehensive process keeps them happy and boosts job satisfaction, engagement and retention.


Immigrants can be a valuable asset for Canadian companies, thanks in part to recent expansions to the permanent residence program. If you're hoping to bring these new Canadians into your workforce, it's helpful to understand how their circumstances affect their professional needs.

According to our research, recent immigrants look for job listings that highlight remote-work options and schedule flexibility. When a job offers a flexible schedule, recent immigrants are 59% more likely to apply.

As you write job postings, avoid language that could deter people who are new to the country.

About 41% of recent immigrants are turned off by red-flag language such as 'duties may vary' and 'we are a family.' Instead, create a welcoming experience by highlighting required skills rather than Canada-oriented experiences and references.

More than any other group of job seekers, recent immigrants to Canada want to be part of a team at work. You can satisfy this need by offering opportunities to connect with colleagues. Pair them with an existing employee during onboarding and orientation, for example, or highlight your mentoring programs.

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Diversity in the workplace is a priority for job seekers of colour. If a job posting doesn't reference your company's diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce, 20% of these workers will hesitate to apply. If you don't yet have diverse workforce, you can:

  • link to the official DEI policy.
  • mention gender and age diversity stats.
  • use inclusive language.
  • highlight employee resource groups.
  • explain available worker accommodations.
  • create standardized interview questions.
  • focus on skills rather than experience.

When possible, aim for a shorter hiring process to avoid losing out on great candidates. Our research shows that 22% of people of colour have said yes to another job opportunity while they were still in the hiring process.

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As you adapt your recruiting and hiring methods to the realities of the current labour market, it's helpful to have the latest data on hand. Download our latest guide on how to expand the talent pool to counter skills shortages; it offers more research-driven strategies to help your company thrive.

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