The Numbers at a Glance

Here’s what today’s employees think about the hiring process.

25% Overqualified

A quarter of respondents felt they were overqualified for the last job they applied for

87% Interview < 2X

The vast majority of respondents think more than two interviews is unacceptable

60% Multiple Offers

Over half of respondents received multiple offers during their job search

78% Want Development

More than three quarters of U.S. workers say professional development is important

Evaluate what qualifications are truly necessary.

25% of respondents felt overqualified for the last job they applied for.

Why is this significant? Because 56% of C-Suite survey takers said the skills gap was real (80% said so in 2016).

The employer-employee mismatch.


We asked: Do you think the skills gap is real at your organization?



Today’s Workforce

We asked: Thinking about the last job you applied for, how qualified did you feel when you applied?

25% Overqualified
71% Adequately qualified

With 96% of job seekers feeling either qualified or overqualified (and only 4% feeling under qualified), there's still quite a gap between what employers and job seekers think about skills and qualifications for today’s jobs.

Employers and candidates agree: experience beats education.

We also asked C-Suite respondents how valuable they thought various levels of education were compared to prior experience.


We asked: How valuable do you think the following are in determining how successful an employee will be in your organization?

Various education is only of medium importance.

  • Low importance
  • Medium importance
  • High importance

Prior experience is of higher importance.

16% Low importance

45% Medium importance

40% High importance

Today’s Workforce

We asked: Select the statement you agree with most.

28% Education is more important than prior work experience for success in a job

72% Prior work experience is more important than education for success in a job

Today’s workers felt similarly, with the majority stating prior experience is of higher value than education for career success.

The skills gap appears to be shrinking in the minds of employers, but there is still a mismatch between employers' and employees' ideas of what makes a “qualified candidate.” A quarter of worker respondents felt overqualified for the last job they applied for, but 44% of today’s companies still believe the labor market's skills gap is very real.

“Two years ago, companies required warehouse workers to have high school diplomas and experience with the scanners used to track merchandise. Now, increasingly, they require neither. We’ve seen an extreme escalation in the past 12 months—if someone applies for a job and you don’t get to him or her within 24 hours, that person will already have taken another job.”

- Amy Glaser, Senior Vice President, Enterprise, Adecco USA, The New York Times, January 2018

The Takeaways

Hire for talent agility vs. qualifications.

With roles and skills constantly evolving, and the talent shortage in today’s low unemployment economy, it’s more important than ever for the two groups to get on the same page. One way organizations can do this is by rethinking what qualifications are truly necessary for their open roles. Consider asking these questions: Are you potentially bypassing people who have critical soft skills you need before you even interview them? Are you considering candidates who may bring transferrable skills from other jobs or industries? Could you easily skill up an employee who may not have the background, but is a proven quick learner? Talent agility should be your top reason for hiring talent to close skills gaps—not their level of education, and potentially not even their prior experience.

Create and promote apprenticeship programs.

Implementing on-the-job learning programs can help you develop new talent that flows directly into your pipeline. The state of Kentucky provides a strong example for how successful this can be. Roughly 80% of Kentuckians don't earn a college degree and, recently, the youth unemployment rate in the state was more than double that of the rest of its adult population. We partnered with key constituents in Kentucky to develop and implement a work-based learning program. The results? 93% of participants landed full-time employment after completing the program, and businesses added new talent from their own communities into their hiring pipelines.

Rethink how you screen candidates.

Resumes are great hiring tools. They're efficient and informative, but if you rely on them as your sole screening device, you could be missing out on unexpectedly great candidates. Consider the return-to-work groups covered in section one. A former or current stay-at-home mom may not have management experience on her resume, but she has spent the last three years running a household, dealing with less-than-rational preschoolers and toddlers, and chairing the PTA. After that, managing your accounts payable department may not be so challenging.

“Vocational and technical skills represent one of the United States’ greatest competitive disadvantages. Apprenticeships fell out of fashion in the United States when educators and parents began to place a greater emphasis on the traditional four-year degree, but they’re making a comeback as more companies, educators, policy makers and non-profit groups come together to make them more mainstream.”

- Joyce Russell, President of the Adecco Group U.S. Foundation, The Business Journals, December 2017

Photo of a third interview.

Think twice before requesting a third interview.

Only 13% of respondents think more than two job interviews are appropriate before the hiring decision. 60% of today’s workforce received multiple offers during their job search.

Most job seekers are willing to go through up to two interviews, but say that three or more is overkill. And in today's job market, that third interview could cost you a valuable hire.

Last year, only half of executives told us they expedite their hiring process for premiere talent. While carefully selecting who they offer helps them avoid a potentially bad hire—and the costs that could be incurred because of it—in today’s tight market, that strategy should be reevaluated.

No more than two interviews.


We asked: Has your company expedited the interview process recently to help secure talent?

54% Of Best-in-Class companies do not expedite their interview process for top talent

Today’s Workforce

We asked: In your opinion, how many interviews do you think you should go through to be considered for a job?

25% 1 interview
62% 2 interviews
10% 3 interviews
3% 4 or more interviews

Your offer needs to be competitive.

Today’s Workforce

We asked: When you last searched for employment, how many job offers did you receive?

40% 1 offer

60% 2 or more offers

In addition to how many interviews candidates are willing to go through, 60% of today’s workforce received multiple offers during their job search. When you extend a job offer to your top choice, don't be surprised if this candidate negotiates based on an offer they already received from another employer.

The most competetive candidate markets.

Percentage of Job Seekers Who Receive Multiple Job Offers

  • 71% IT & Engineering
  • 70% Industrial & Manufacturing
  • 67% Accounting & Finance
  • 67% Legal
  • 56% Customer Service
  • 53% Office & Administration
  • 52% Creative & Marketing

How they’re applying.

We asked: How did you apply for your current job?

37% Employer’s website

24% Online job boards

12% Recruiters

2% Social media

26% Other

While it's true that job boards and social media have gained credibility for garnering job applies, our respondents identified the careers page on company websites as their top channel for applying.

Candidates are no longer waiting for a job interview to be scheduled before they research your company. Now, many do so before they even apply, through sites like Yelp, Indeed, Glassdoor and Facebook.

Just as today’s consumers research appliance brands before purchasing a new refrigerator, today's candidates research where they want to work before applying.

How to make a good hire quickly, but efficiently.

The need for speed in hiring is undeniable, but the cost of a bad hire is nerve-racking to companies already shelling out extra cash just to garner applicants. A recent CNN Money article predicts online recruitment sites and job boards will make as much as $6.4 billion by 2022, up from the $4.4 billion they made in 2017, as companies continue investing in them to find the talent they need.

Time-to-hire and time-to-fill metrics are more important than ever, but how do you accelerate those efforts, without making yourself prone to error or, ultimately, a bad hire?

Companies investing in automation and artificial intelligence (AI) to speed up their hiring process are on the right track. While using technology to screen or source candidate resumes is nothing new, "human-based" automation is gaining speed, and it’s proving to effectively lower costs while obtaining candidates who are a better fit.

According to Chatbots Magazine, natural language understanding will be a core element of all chatbots digital transformation strategy today. In addition to identifying the best candidates for the job quicker—relieving HR departments of timely paper-pushing and outreach—AI-powered bots also personalize the HR process, starting at the interview phase, and even following a candidate through their basic onboarding and training tasks. In most cases, job seekers don’t even realize they’re not speaking with an actual human, allowing them to feel connected to positions just as quickly as companies want—and need—to place them.

“Job seekers want a customized, frictionless experience where much of the process is centered around their ability to engage when they want to engage. Companies shaping this trend are making the application process as simple and digitally-friendly as possible by deploying artificial intelligence—algorithms that can engage candidates at the right time—that only schedules interviews with people who are a superior fit for the role. By doing this candidates feel more connected to the role and are willing to invest in the process.”

- Bill Ravenscroft, SVP, Head of Sales & Account Management at Adecco USA

The Takeaways

Make sure your offer is better than their others.

As the unemployment rate continues to drop, hiring competition is heating up—and candidates' expectations for the hiring process are changing. You need them placed quickly, but they need to feel connected at the same time.

Pilot AI, or at least reevaluate your interview process.

Your application process needs to be as simple as possible, meeting candidates on every possible platform they are on. While web- and mobile-friendly applications have been trending for years, does your company have live chatting that allows candidates to answer basic interview questions, without the hassle of uploading a resume? If not with AI, identify where you can streamline your interview process without sacrificing the personalized-component candidates need to feel connected.

Plan negotiations ahead of time.

Before you extend an offer letter, get an understanding—even formal approval—of what and how you can negotiate to win over a candidate. This will allow for speed in securing the candidate you want without having to wade through red tape and risking losing them to a quicker recruiting team.

Collect exit feedback.

If someone is leaving your company—whether they’re a full-time employee moving to another opportunity, or a temporary worker finishing up their assignment—talk to them to understand what they did or did not like about their job. This feedback could help you better tailor your offer to the person who is filling their role.

Photo of man working.

Show them that you’ll grow their careers.

78% of respondents state opportunities for professional development are important to them.

In the past, we discovered employers were thinking about an employee’s job satisfaction within their organization as early as the interview process. They were not only screening talent for job competency; they were also evaluating what was important to them, and if their organization could match those standards and truly grow them within their workforces.

Employee values.


We asked: How valuable do you think the following are in determining how happy an employee will be in your organization?

  • Low importance
  • Medium importance
  • High importance

Today’s Workforce

We asked: Please indicate how important the following attributes are in determining how happy you are at a job.

  • Extremely important
  • Very important
  • Moderately important
  • Slightly important
  • Not at all important

Moving up and fitting in are very important to today’s workforce. 78% of respondents state opportunities for professional development are very to extremely important to their happiness at a job.

Companies scaled back on development during the recession, combining growth with other perks they were forced to rethink. Having a job was the perk in and of itself. But with the economy the healthiest it’s been in a decade, companies need to ensure they’ve not only brought back development opportunities, but are touting them to workers as early as the interview phase to make themselves more appealing than their competition.

“Today, more companies are operating in knowledge and service economies. They’re not just fulfilling basic needs; they’re aiming to fulfill every need… and competing to be the best places to work… When that contract is fulfilled, people bring their whole selves to work. But when it’s breached, people become less satisfied and committed. They contribute less. They perform worse.”

- Harvard Business Review, The 3 Things Employees Really Want, 2018

Where employers miss the mark.

Mentorships were the only job satisfaction factor where “low importance” outranked “high importance,” according to the C-Suite. Today’s workforce thinks differently, with nearly 86% listing mentorships as moderately to extremely important—especially for women.

How the C-Suite Values Mentorships

38% Low importance
42% Medium importance
20% High importance

How the Workforce Values Mentorships

4% Not at all important
11% Slightly important
31% Moderately important
33% Very important
22% Extremely important

How the Workforce Values Mentorships - by gender.


5% Not at all important
10% Slightly important
34% Moderately important
33% Very important
18% Extremely important


3% Not at all important
11% Slightly important
28% Moderately important
34% Very important
25% Extremely important

The Takeaways

Provide mentors and sponsors.

Organizations are close when it comes to what most factors into employee happiness. They realize that professional development and cultural fit should be a top priority, but don't understand the potential impact mentorship programs could have. Recently, LinkedIn tested a new feature that would match a user with an experienced professional, or “mentor.” It’s now being rolled out across the U.S., UK and India, and asks users what advice they would like, and then provides them with a list of potential mentor matches. It even offers to start conversations between them. It’s a matter of time before individual organizations catch on and create their own mentorship programs directly within their companies.

Identify willing mentors and implement a mentorship program.

Many employers have yet to create a formal mentorship program, so this could be a simple way to set your company apart, helping it rise above the competition. Even if your program doesn't have an official name and process, developing a culture of mentorship can go a long way toward not only hiring and onboarding, but also employee development.

When interviewing, bring up mentorship.

Ask candidates if this would be helpful to them and what they'd expect to get from a mentorship. If they express that they'd enjoy working with a mentor, be ready with an idea of who would be a great fit for them in your organization. They may get more excited at the prospect of receiving your job offer.

Take it a step further with sponsorships.

To truly appeal to your workforce’s desire for development and mentoring, consider creating sponsorships between top performers and senior individuals. Sponsors invest in your top performers beyond your typical email advice or guidance; they build relationships with them, invite them into their inner networks, and advocate for their advancement within the company. Sponsors help identify which talent is worth continued investment, potentially saving you costly recruiting costs for senior positions down the road.