When it comes to attracting the attention of job hunters, it's best to lead with the fundamentals, suggests a study published this week by Glassdoor. The most common factor that people focus on in want ads is that most-basic element of the employment arrangement: salary.

But for all those companies that have been layering on innovative perks  in their attempts to attract the best workers, there's good news. People appear to make their decisions about what jobs to apply for based a bit more heavily on the overall benefits, rather than primarily on wages.

What are job seekers looking for?

Here's what the survey's respondents -- a group of more than 1,100 U.S. adults either employed, or unemployed but looking for work -- cited as among their top considerations when sifting through job listings:

  • Salary (69%)
  • Benefits (63%)
  • Location (59%)
  • Commute time (43%)
  • Employee reviews (32%)

When it came to the point of actually deciding which opportunities they were going to pursue, though, the numbers changed a bit. In first position was "attractive benefits and perks" (like paid time off and gym memberships), with 48% calling them important -- followed closely by the 47% who pointed to "a convenient, easy commute." "High salaries" came third, with 46% of respondents naming them as a top concern. Significant numbers of potential applicants also said they highly valued "work-life balance" (43%) and "work-from-home flexibility" (41%).

The results of the study also suggest that companies will attract better candidates if they disclose salary information in their job ads -- something that many choose not to do in order to keep an edge in negotiations later. That could be a mistake.

"Job seekers crave transparency on pay, not only to make an initial judgment about whether to consider applying for a job, but also to assess if an employer holds long-term potential for them," said Glassdoor Global Head of Talent Acquisition Julie Coucoules in a press release. Fully 44% of those surveyed specified that when they're judging a possible employer, they consider the company's transparency on pay and benefits. 

A tablet shows job listings.

Potential employees value transparency. Image source: Getty Images.

Be transparent

As Coucoules notes, highly qualified job candidates typically want to do their own research on a company, seeking out employee reviews, and details about benefits packages. "This means that employers should make information available to job candidates proactively, or they risk missing out on quality candidates applying," she said.

To sum up: With the power dynamic in job market having tipped slightly more in favor of the applicants in many fields, it's best for employers to be transparent. Clearly, openness moves the needle with job seekers. And in addition to landing companies more of the well-qualified applicants they seek, it will likely filter out early many of those who wouldn't have accepted an offer anyway, after they learned about the salary range and benefits later in the process.

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