Attracting Top Talent with Purpose and Impact

Livingston James’ Head of Public and Not for Profit Practice, Douglas Adam, discusses the opportunities for the public and not for profit sectors to attract top talent who want to build a career with purpose.

Following discussions with a range of clients across the public and not for profit sectors in recent months, it has become apparent that more and more organisations are facing the significant challenge of attracting appropriately qualified candidates given the lack of opportunity to ‘compete’ with the private sector for in-demand skills (for example Finance, IT or Digital expertise) due to salary levels.

Whilst the overall benefits package can often be more attractive in the public and not for profit sectors due to pension arrangements, candidates tend to focus on the salary when reviewing job adverts or job descriptions and as a result may choose not to apply or even explore a specific role further.

So what can organisations in these sectors do differently? Whilst the word ‘brand’ is perhaps not a word regularly used across the public and not for profit sectors, it is imperative that organisations focus on and actively promote their Employee Value Proposition – effectively communicating why a prospective candidate should work for your organisation.

The Importance of Purpose

Research by McKinsey shows that 70% of employees feel their sense of purpose is defined by their work. An individual role’s purpose and impact therefore simply must be considered and then communicated to potential candidates through job descriptions, rather than simply a generic list of tasks. Whilst this could be argued prevalent across sectors, it is particularly important in the public and not for profit sectors where senior candidates are likely to be having a vast impact by delivering positive outcomes for individuals and communities alike.

Over the last two years we have certainly seen an increased level of interest from candidates currently operating in the private sector who have made the deliberate choice to join the voluntary sector in either an executive or non-executive capacity. This change is potentially linked to the Covid pandemic creating an increased sense of community, public service, and the desire to make a more meaningful impact through work.

With McKinsey’s research also showing that almost 50% of candidates reconsidering the type of work they do following the pandemic, the public and not for profit sectors have the perfect opportunity to benefit from individuals’ increased focus on ‘giving back’ by embracing a more purpose led approach to their recruitment. Not only will this allow organisations to effectively compete for talent, but it will ensure those candidates who choose to join such organisations are also directly aligned with the values and purpose of the organisation.


If you’d like to discuss how to run a purpose led recruitment process in more detail, please get in touch at [email protected]

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