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New HERC Report on Changing Job Seeker Attitudes and Expectations in Higher Ed

By Marcia Silva posted 09-07-2021 08:48:11 AM


We’re excited to share the results of HERC’s annual job seeker survey in our new report, “2021 HERC Job Seeker Survey Report: DEI and the Changing Perspectives in the Higher Ed Workforce.” With today’s recruitment and retention challenges, we need actionable data on the changing needs and expectations of job seekers in the higher ed sector. Members can download the full report here.

HERC conducts the annual job seeker survey to understand their experience looking for work in higher education and to identify how HERC can best support them during the process of finding, landing, and keeping their ideal position. This year’s survey included additional questions about the impact of COVID-19 and the increasing importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in work policies.

The report addresses four topics: job searching now, job advancement, expectations of employers, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Below are some report highlights.

Career Advancement

Employers should invest in professional development and mentorship programs.  Of survey respondents that indicated that they were searching for a new job, 31% noted that career advancement was a top reason. When rating indicators of a future employer’s commitment to career advancement, job seekers reported professional development (56%), mentorship/supervisory (40%), and internal hiring paths (38%) as the top two indicators.


Employers need to be better about communicating what mental health services are available to employers. Job seekers reported strong confidence in some of the support provided by employers as it relates to their careers and the COVID-19 pandemic. Job seekers’ confidence fell when rating their employer’s support of employee needs and dipped even more when considering their employer’s prioritization of employees’ mental health.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Employers must demonstrate their commitment to DEI through authentic and transparent communications to attract potential candidates and retain faculty and staff. The increased attention on diversity, equity, and inclusion in workforce policies was reflected by our survey respondents: 85% of Non-White and 81% of White survey respondents noted that an employer’s diversity and inclusion policies and practices were very and somewhat important to them.

When rating indicators of an employer’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, job seekers reported ‘shows commitment to salary and compensation; (94%), ‘has a positive reputation from current employees; (94%), and ‘demonstrates that diverse faculty/staff are able to advance in their careers; (87%) as very and somewhat important.

Many of the shifts in thoughts and expectations revealed in this year’s job seeker survey are driving workforce policy changes and will have long-term impacts on what attracts and keeps staff and faculty at higher education institutions. We encourage our members to dig into the report and use the data to inform your institution’s development of inclusive and equitable recruitment and retention policies.