What Makes $100K+ Candidates Tick?

In theory, recruiting candidates is a pretty simple job: you find someone with the appropriate skills, offer them an appropriate salary, and everyone is happy.

In reality, the picture is significantly more complex. More than 80 years since Maslow first proposed his famous hierarchy of needs, we still don’t have a complete understanding of all the factors that candidates weigh when considering an offer from a prospective employer, nor those that lead to long-term satisfaction once they’re in the role.

Here’s one thing we do know: money isn’t everything. In fact, one 2018 study found that the magic number for most people is $95,000—anything beyond that in annual income had no significant effect on a person’s level of satisfaction with their life.

That’s borne out by what our audience at Ladders tells us. (For those who may be unfamiliar: we’re the leading job site for $100K+ professionals.) As you can see, only 19% of people who earn six-figures would not consider taking a pay cut for their dream job.

If Not Money…Then What?

At Ladders, we have a treasure trove of data on 6-figure professionals because of Third Page™ – a series of questions we ask our members so that we, and the recruiters who use our site, can get to know them better. Since it launched last year, Ladders members have provided more than 18.6 million responses to Third Page questions, giving us unprecedented insight into how these candidates think, and what they value.

Here are a few things we’ve learned about what makes this group of professionals tick, which will be useful to any recruiter thinking about how to craft approaches for candidates in this bracket.

Glamour and Perks Don’t Matter

While it can be tempting to try to sell candidates on a company’s reputation, or on the picture of a lifestyle of catered lunches and free dry cleaning, those things probably aren’t going to move the needle with experienced hires:

Bigger Roles and Titles Don’t Matter Either

When you’ve already attained career success, roles and titles seem less important than other considerations:

Growth and Mission DO Matter

People don’t arrive at the top of their professions by accident: they get there through hard work, by maintaining a growth mindset and by loving what they do. Appealing to these candidates, then, involves crafting a pitch that hits on these elements:

Quality of Life Is Important, Too

Finally, while there’s no single thing that will appeal to all candidates across a variety of industries, a recruiter who is looking to play the odds might want to consider stressing their company’s work-from-home opportunities:

The lesson for any recruiter or talent professional here is clear: when you’re trying to convince a high-performing professional to make the leap to your organization, knowing your candidate is key.

To learn more about what makes $100K+ candidates tick – including an industry-by-industry breakdown – check out Ladders’ in-depth whitepaper on the subject here.

Phil Scott Ladders

Phil Stott is the Employer Insights Manager at Ladders. A former journalist, he has been covering issues related to careers and recruiting since 2007. Ladders, Inc. is a leading professional careers site that offers comprehensive, data-backed career tools and guidance to place members in top-tier professional jobs. Founded in 2003 in New York, NY, Ladders has more than 10 million users who use the platform to manage, market and move up in their careers.

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Candidate Sourcing