Applicant Attraction to Organizations and Job Choice

Adrian Furnham and Kat Palaiou


Human capital is arguably the most important asset that an organization can have. Consequently, recruitment offers the valuable function of attracting the necessary talent to the organization (Rynes & Cable, 2003). The future success of organizations lies in their being able to attract, as well as select and develop, high-potential people with ability, drive and talent (MacCrae & Furnham, 2014). The high-potential and talent literature seems more concerned with selection and training than the literature, mainly from vocational psychology, on what attracts people to work for an organization.

It is challenging for companies to create and change their personnel image to attract the ‘right’ staff, a process called employer branding (Edwards, 2010). The first stage of recruitment, when companies try to identify potential applicants, especially high flyers, and convince them to apply through the use of a wide array of recruitment practices, is vital to gain a better understanding of which features affect applicants’ initial attraction to companies. If they are not attracted at the first stage, they will withdraw and will not be reached by later recruitment or selection activities (Collins & Stevens, 2002; Slaughter, Stanton, Mohr & Schoel, 2005).

This chapter examines the literature on the factors that attract job applicants to a particular organization. It is important to distinguish between being attracted to a job, with well-established and well-known characteristics and skill requirements, and an organization that has very different and often unknown attributes (Gomes & Neves, 2011).

There is inevitably a number of factors that play a part in that choice which differ according to the demographic and psychographic characteristics of the applicant, as well as the cultural, economic and social conditions of the time. Factors that play an important part include salary and working conditions, location and training programmes available. Organizations try to develop a reputation as a good employer and a place where people want to work. In short, they want a brand that attracts ‘good’ people.

The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of the Psychology of Recruitment, Selection and Employee Retention,

First Edition. Edited by Harold W. Goldstein, Elaine D. Pulakos, Jonathan Passmore and Carla Semedo. © 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Published 2017 by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

This brand marketing may or may not be grounded in reality. That is, what they say about themselves, such as their culture and values, may be at odds with the experience of the people who actually work for the organization.

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