March 09, 2020

“Meaningful recruitment”: The best way to attract candidates and retain them.

In order to celebrate Generations Recruitment’s 10th anniversary, we organised an event for our GR community. The event included a conference about job market trends and, of course, recruitment trends. In this article, we list a few lessons we learned in 10 years of recruitment experience at Generations Recruitment, the key points discussed during this conference.


In an over-digitalised and over-technologized world, changes are continual, and stability is becoming rare. The population is asking its business leaders to position themselves on key subjects, both economical and social. Consumers’ behaviours are evolving as well, as they become increasingly aware of the impact of their consumption choices.

As a result, the search for meaning is key in today’s society. It impacts the job market and the recruitment process at every level: in terms of employees’ needs, work methods, employer branding, corporate culture…

Candidates are now increasingly looking for meaning in their job, for an employer conscious of its social responsibility and with whom they share common values.

At Generations Recruitment, we understand the importance of providing “Meaningful Recruitment” to secure recruitment sustainability and facing the search for a meaningful world.

Concretely, Meaningful Recruitment is, on the one hand, to consider candidates’ needs to ensure their satisfaction at work, in terms of job content, but also regarding their values, the management style that suits them, their world vision, their motivational drivers… And, on the other hand, to encourage employers to work on a positive contribution to society. This positive contribution goes through corporate social responsibility, more inclusive recruitment, authenticity, flexibility and continuous learning.

Now let’s take a look at these topics more thoroughly one by one.

1. Corporate social responsibility

In order to be attractive to candidates today, companies must define their values, a vision, a mission ​​and a social responsibility program, and communicate them! Their objectives cannot be summarised solely by business performance targets anymore, but should consider society as a whole. Behind business goals, companies should stand for something by considering social, environmental and ethical concerns, as well as consumer and human rights.

To retain employees, it is also in the best interest of any company to consider social responsibility and its impact on the market when planning its actions.

Looking for meaning at work is fundamental for the workforce and it means finding and working for a company whose culture is aligned with their values and their aspirations.

It is also the purpose of Meaningful Recruitment: ensuring that candidate and employer fit in terms of values, motivation drivers and company purpose. While a candidate’s expertise and competences can be easy to understand, values and aspirations are intangible and difficult to measure. That’s why, at Generations Recruitment, we developed a tool allowing to understand candidate and employer values and aspirations. This Generations Recruitment Aspirational Model is a questionnaire that both candidate and employer fill in and that allows us to convert these intangible data to tangible ones.

2. An inclusive company culture

One of most people’s concerns today is diversity. A diversified workplace allows attracting candidates from various backgrounds and experiences, strengthening the general knowledge of the company. This leads to higher employee engagement as people feel integrated into the team.

A role model in this context is Levi Strauss. To improve its diversity and inclusion at work, the company invests a lot in events and training. As an example, training to increase awareness of diversity is required of all its leaders. [1]

Another role model, but national, is Torfs. They conduct lots of actions to improve happiness at work. For the tenth time, they were granted first place on the “Great place to work” contest. Diversity is one of their main worries. They invest in anti-harassment actions and are an ambassador of SODA-jobs (not profit organisation that promotes jobs for the young).[2]

This demonstrates that happiness at work goes hand in hand with diversity. That is why Meaningful Recruitment also means ensuring a demographically diverse workforce. This allows having a positive impact on the reputation of the company, building a competitive advantage and attracting a highly engaged workforce.

3. The authenticity of the company

Another important feature for candidates, it is the authenticity of their employer.

It is good to have a strong company culture with a strong social responsibility, but it’s nothing without authenticity.

Today, thanks to the internet, you can know everything about companies, very quickly. Furthermore, it is becoming common to share reviews about employers on social media (e.g.: Glassdoor). Research shows that 71% of candidates use referrals from current employees of a company before applying.[3]

Every time a company communicates, internally and externally, it should be true and sincere. We invite Marketing and Human Resources departments to work together in creating a unique branding story to be authentic without faking.

However, communication isn’t enough; actions need to be undertaken to be authentic. These actions should correspond to the way the company is living for real. The company needs to be engaged and aligned with its purpose (like Levis and Torfs, for example).

Actions should not be of a one-shot nature either; companies should integrate them in a continuous social engagement strategy.

Therefore, authenticity is also one of the conditions towards Meaningful Recruitment. A lack of authenticity can break trust in a company and have a really bad impact on its people, business and recruitment. 

4. Flexibility at work

Stability is constantly tested because of continuous changes. As a result, people are looking for independence and autonomy. Flexibility is one of the most important needs for candidates nowadays. For 88 % of them, having more flexibility is one reason to switch jobs[4].

An increasing number of people want to switch to a freelance career in order to get more flexibility. Usually, the ones who do, don’t want to be employed again[5]. Furthermore, freelancers want to be integrated into the company and its mission as well. They are also searching for meaning at work and for a good human experience. Therefore, companies should be ready to integrate them and to manage more and more diversified teams.

Aside from work status, flexibility is also requested in terms of hours and desks. Co-working spaces, homeworking and flex-offices are becoming established almost everywhere[6]. Simultaneously, this flexibility applies to work methods, with the rise of project-based and agile work methods.

Offering flexibility on every level allows a company to stay modern and attractive; it is also part of Meaningful Recruitment. In fact, by considering people’s needs and motivational drivers, employers can ensure Meaningful Recruitment.

5. Continuous learning

Because of the fast and continuous changes, you don’t study a profession that you will practice for the rest of your life. Most functions won’t exist anymore in a few years. Therefore, employees should continually brush up their skills and learn to stay competitive and relevant to the market for the whole remainder of their careers.

Recruiting candidates based on their competences at a given moment isn’t the right approach. Instead, companies should invest in extensive training and a professional development program.

Continued learning opportunities are a solid reason to stay employed in a company while offering growth and development opportunities also attracts new candidates. This is even more true for Millennials as, according to studies, they are 45% likely to consider development as “very important”[7].

A good counterexample of Meaningful Recruitment is the Odoo campaign to recruit developers. They were looking for programmers but unable to attract them, so they sent gifts to their competitor’s employees to invite them to work at Odoo.[8] This action shows the difficulty of companies in attracting talents, but especially, their mistake in using a non-ethic business strategy to recruit. As people are looking for meaning and corporate social responsibility, the best way to attract talents is to work on this and, at the same time, offer a continued learning program.


The market is filled with dichotomy. The market is candidate driven (there are more jobs than qualified people available), yet people find it hard to have a decent function. 

Companies experience difficulty attracting candidates, yet are picky about the competences, accuse candidates of not being ‘plug & play’ and are ready to wait months before finding the right match.

Therefore, to cope with these issues and remain attractive, companies should meet people’s needs for meaning at life and work thanks to Meaningful Recruitment.

The first step of a Meaningful Recruitment strategy is to rethink the way companies approach their business by defining a purpose and think about their social responsibility on society.

Next, to do so, integrate diversity in their teams is also important. Furthermore, it increases innovation and allows to better cope with competitors. Continuous learning programs are also necessary to remain up-to-date and increase motivation and retention of employees.

Finally, taking their candidates and employees’ needs into account are primordial because nowadays generations are more likely to invest at work if these fit their aspirations and vision of the world.

Making the switch to Meaningful Recruitment overnight may prove to be difficult, as applying all these changes requires a lot of investments and time. Taking action, step by step, is the best way to increase companies’ retention and attractiveness. Be that as it may, it’s important to remain authentic in doing so.





[4]Based on a Gallup study: “51% of employees say they would switch to a job that allows them flextime, and 37% would switch to a job that allows them to work off-site at least part of the time”

[5]88% of freelancers don’t want to change their status anymore :




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