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Industry comparison: Recruiting & onboarding in eleven industries

We surveyed more than 2,100 people to find out how different industries differ in terms of their preferences for recruiting, onboarding & co. Are there significant industry-specific differences? Find out here!

 

To find out what specific requirements and preferences applicants in different industries have, we conducted a detailed analysis. Our comparison is based on data we collected in February 2024. We surveyed

  • 2,172 persons,
  • from eleven sectors - from construction to finance and insurance to the public sector,
  • between the ages of 18 and 65.

In order to identify particularly pronounced differences in recruiting preferences, we focused on 13 key criteria of the recruiting process - from job search to onboarding expectations.

All comparison criteria at a glance:

  1. Job search: Are potential candidates looking for jobs? If so, where?
  2. Application method: How do candidates prefer to apply?
  3. Application process: What do candidates look for in the application process?
  4. Reasons not to apply: What stops candidates from applying?
  5. Addressing people in job advertisements: Should companies use the first or last name in job advertisements?
  6. Content that attracts attention: What attracts candidates in particular?
  7. Design of job advertisements: How should job advertisements be presented visually and in terms of content?
  8. Recruitainment: Do interested parties respond to entertaining content when recruiting?
  9. A fixed contact person: How important is direct contact during the application process?
  10. Openness to changing jobs: How open are candidates to changing their current job?
  11. After a job interview: What stops candidates from accepting a job offer?
  12. Onboarding expectations: What do new employees expect from the induction process?
  13. Job benefits: What benefits should companies offer to attract and retain employees?

Industry comparison: application and onboarding preferences compared

"What is important in some sectors plays no role at all in others". That is our thesis. Is it tenable? We have compared the prevailing preferences for recruiting and onboarding in different industries in order to find an answer to this question.

Specifically, we analyzed responses from employees and managers from the following eleven industries:

  1. Building industry
  2. Education
  3. Retail trade
  4. Manufacturing
  5. Finance or insurance
  6. Gastronomy
  7. Health / social services
  8. IT
  9. Accounting, taxes, bookkeeping, payroll accounting
  10. Transportation and/or warehousing
  11. Public administration / public service

Job search: Are potential candidates looking for jobs? If so, where?

Where do potential candidates look for jobs? Are they looking at all? With regard to these questions, the "education" and "finance" sectors differ the most.

In education, the data shows that ...

  • 38 % of job seekers rely on job boards,
  • 32 % use websites, and
  • 29 % do not actively search at all.

These figures indicate that there is relative satisfaction with current jobs in the education sector or that jobs tend to be found through networks and personal contacts.

In contrast, finance shows a greater reliance on digital platforms and a higher level of active job search.

In the financial sector ...

  • 51 % of jobseekers use job boards,
  • 36 % Business networks and
  • 34 % LinkedIn.

The percentage figures show a high level of use of online tools and networks in the industry.

These stark differences between the education and finance industries in terms of job search illustrate how industry-specific characteristics can influence job search and the way candidates look for new jobs. It shows that education may place less emphasis on digital job search tools, while finance relies heavily on online networks and job platforms.

Application method: How do candidates prefer to apply?

With regard to the criterion "Application method: How do candidates prefer to apply?", the "Transportation and/or warehousing" and "Education" sectors differ the most.

In the transportation industry, we prefer ...

  • 42.3% of candidates sent their application by email,
  • 19 % by post and
  • 11.3 % via the company's career website.

This indicates a more traditional application method, with email still the dominant medium, but also a notable preference for postal applications.

In contrast, the education sector prefers ...

  • 52.4 % of candidates applied by e-mail,
  • while 11.9 % apply by post and
  • 10.7 % did not state a preference.

This data shows a stronger inclination towards digital application methods, with email clearly dominating and postal applications playing a smaller but still significant role.

The comparison of these two sectors reveals interesting insights: While email is the preferred application method in both sectors, there is a stronger tendency towards digital methods and a smaller variety of preferred application forms in the education sector.

In transportation, the preference for email is somewhat less dominant, and there is a greater variety of accepted application methods, including a notable preference for postal applications.

These differences could indicate different technology affinities, work cultures and traditions in the two industries. For recruiters, this means that they should adapt application procedures to meet the specific preferences and habits of the target group in each industry.

Application process: What do candidates look for in the application process?

Across all sectors, a remarkable pattern emerges for the criterion "application process": In all sectors, three core aspects of the application process are consistently rated highly by candidates.

These aspects are:

  1. Fast feedback: Fast feedback is almost universally considered important or very important. This shows that candidates in various industries value prompt feedback and do not want to be left in the dark about the status of their application for long.
  2. Appealingly worded texts: Candidates value clear and appealing communication in the application process, especially in job descriptions and emails. This indicates a desire for professional and pleasant communication.
  3. Speed of the process: Many candidates value an efficient and speedy application process. This is particularly relevant in dynamic or time-critical industries such as transportation, but this aspect is also important in other industries.

The findings show that speed, clear communication and a certain degree of efficiency are expected from candidates across all industries. Companies that excel in these areas can therefore gain an advantage in attracting and retaining talent in any industry.

Reasons not to apply: What stops candidates from applying?

In two sectors, applicants refrained from applying for various reasons.

transportation industry:

  • The application process was too cumbersome: 42.7 %
  • I had to register to apply: 26.8 %
  • The text struck me as a standard tender: 20.3 %

Gastronomy:

  • Cumbersome process: 39.4 %
  • Never before in this situation: 25.2 %
  • Need for registration: 24.4 %

In a comparison between the transportation industry and the hospitality industry, it is striking that a significant proportion of respondents in the hospitality industry (25.2%) state that they have never refrained from applying. These differences could indicate that the hospitality industry may place more emphasis on personal contacts and less formal application procedures, while formal processes and the quality of communication in job advertisements appear to be more important in the transportation industry.

In addition, when looking at the data on the reasons for not applying, a clear trend becomes apparent: A cumbersome application process is a cross-industry problem.

In almost all sectors - from transportation (42.7%) to finance (27.9%), education (34.5%), the public sector (40.7%) and healthcare (40.7%) - the application process is abandoned if it is perceived as too cumbersome.

Another common denominator: the need to register to apply. This is perceived as a deterrent in many sectors, for example in the transportation industry (26.8%), finance (27.9%) and the public sector (30.2%).

Regardless of their professional background or the sector they are applying to, candidates prefer simple and straightforward application processes. Findings show that companies across all industries could benefit from simplifying and speeding up their application processes and avoiding unnecessary registration steps to attract a wider range of candidates.

Addressing people in job advertisements: Should companies use the first or last name in job advertisements?

Two industries differ in terms of preferred communication style: education tends to be more formal, while construction prefers a more relaxed, informal style of communication.

  • In education, 56% of respondents prefer to be formally addressed,
  • while in the construction industry 41.7 % prefer informal informality.

These differences could reflect cultural and structural characteristics of the two industries. While education may have a more traditional, formal atmosphere, construction may encourage a more open, informal work environment. Companies in these industries should consider these preferences in order to target potential candidates more effectively.

Content that attracts attention: What attracts candidates in particular?

Company insights, short photo/text combinations or videos: We compared which three types of content attract the most attention from applicants from different industries. Two industries differ particularly strongly in terms of their requirements for content in job advertisements:

The following content attracts the attention of applicants in the education sector:

  • Social media content (45.2 %)
  • Photo/text combinations (40.5 %)
  • Insights from events/trade fairs (32.1 %)

Applicants in the construction industry are attracted by this content:

  • Short videos (39.3 %)
  • Company insights (35.7 %)
  • Photo/text combinations (28.8 %)

While applicants in the education sector place particular value on social media, photo/text combinations and events/trade fairs, applicants in the construction sector prefer short videos, company insights and also photo/text combinations. These differences could indicate that applicants in the education sector are more attracted to interactive and educational content, while applicants in the construction sector place more value on visual representations and insights into everyday working life.

Design of job advertisements: How should job advertisements be presented visually and in terms of content?

A look at the preferences for the visual presentation of job advertisements shows that the "finance" and "construction" sectors differ the most.

In finance, applicants pay attention to these design elements in job advertisements:

  • Font size: Over 78% of respondents attach importance to font size.
  • Images: More than 55% consider images to be important or very important.
  • Contrast/white space: Around 59% consider contrast and white space to be essential design elements.

This data indicates that the financial sector attaches great importance to the visual presentation of job advertisements. Great value is placed on a clear, legible font size and an aesthetic layout with sufficient contrast and white space.

In contrast, people working in the construction industry have other preferences:

  • Images: 42.9% of respondents consider images to be important.
  • Font size: 40.5 % attach great importance to font size.
  • High contrast: 39.3% consider high contrast to be important.

These scores are lower overall than in finance, suggesting that while visual elements such as images and contrast are important in construction, they are less emphasized than in finance. Font size is seen as less critical.

The major differences in the importance that the two industries attach to the visual design of their job advertisements could reflect different target groups and industry cultures. In finance, the preference for detailed and clear visuals could indicate a culture that values professionalism and precision. In construction, on the other hand, the de-emphasis on visual design could indicate that other factors such as direct information or ease of access are valued more highly.

For companies in these industries, this means that they should customize their job ads according to the specific preferences of their target audience in order to most effectively reach potential candidates.

Recruitainment: Do interested parties respond to entertaining content when recruiting?

While the IT sector is somewhat more open to gameification and other entertaining content, the public sector has a more conservative attitude towards recruitainment.

In the IT sector ...

  • 46.8 % of respondents reject recruitainment.
  • 33.3 % have a positive attitude towards this entertaining content.
  • 19.9 % are undecided.

These figures suggest that there is a significant group in the IT industry that welcomes entertaining content in the recruitment process. This could indicate a younger, tech-savvy target group that appreciates innovative and creative approaches to communication.

In the public sector ...

  • 58.8 % of respondents reject recruitainment content.
  • only 27.5 % have a positive attitude towards them.
  • 13.8% are undecided.

These figures suggest that more traditional communication methods are preferred in the public sector and that entertaining elements are less popular. This could indicate a more conservative, perhaps older target group that prefers a more formal and professional approach to recruiting.

These clear differences between the IT and public administration sectors in terms of attitude towards recruitainment show how important it is to adapt the communication and approach in the recruitment process to the specific culture and preferences of the target group in each sector. While more creative and unconventional approaches can be fruitful in the IT sector, it is probably more beneficial in the public sector to focus on clearer and more traditional communication.

A fixed contact person: How important is a direct contact in the job advertisement?

How important is it for applicants in different industries that a permanent contact person is named in the job advertisement? With regard to this question, the "transportation" and "finance" sectors differ the most from each other.

In the transportation industry, the importance of a permanent contact person is rated as follows:

  • 50.6% consider them important.
  • 34.4 % for very important.
  • 19.1 % for rather important.

A clear majority (85%) find a fixed contact person during the application process "important" or "very important". This indicates that personal contact and clear communication channels during the application process are valued in this sector.

This compares with the financial sector:

  • 88.1% rate a permanent contact person as important or very important.
  • The average rating is 5.18 on a scale of 6.

An almost unanimous opinion among respondents in finance suggests that a direct and clearly defined communication channel is seen as extremely important, possibly due to the structured and detail-oriented nature of the industry.

While direct contact is valued in both industries, it is even more crucial in finance. Recruiters in different industries should adapt the communication channels during the application process according to the specific expectations and needs of the candidates.

Openness to changing jobs: How open are candidates to changing their current job?

With regard to the question "How open are you currently to changing jobs?", the "Hospitality" and "Public Sector" sectors show the greatest differences.

In gastronomy, the data shows:

  • 43% are open to a change, but are not prepared to relocate.
  • 21.1% are both open to a change and willing to relocate to do so.
  • 29.8% of respondents are not open to changing jobs.

Figures that indicate that there is a certain openness to career changes in the gastronomy sector - albeit with reservations regarding relocation. It could reflect a preference for mobility within one's own region or city.

This compares to the public sector:

  • 45.3% of employees are not open to changing jobs.
  • 32.7% are open, but would not move for a new job.
  • 12.2 % are open to a job change and would also relocate.

This data shows that there is less willingness to change jobs in the public sector, especially when it comes to relocation. This could indicate a stronger preference for stability and security, characteristics often associated with the public sector.

The clear differences in openness to changing jobs between the hospitality industry and the public sector illustrate how different the willingness to change jobs can be in different sectors. While there is a greater openness to change and, in some cases, relocation in the hospitality industry, the public sector shows a stronger tendency to stay in their current position.

After a job interview: What stops candidates from accepting a job offer?

A successful job interview is a decisive factor in whether or not an applicant decides to accept a job offer. With regard to the question: "What prevents candidates from accepting a job offer?", the "IT" and "Accounting" sectors differ the most.

In the IT sector, the data shows that ...

  • 53.8% of candidates turned down a job offer because they felt that the salary issue was unclear or evasive during the interview.
  • 50.6 % turn down a job if they felt inferior or not sufficiently valued in the interview.
  • 44.9 % turn down a job offer if the exact tasks and responsibilities were not explained to them.

These figures indicate that transparency, clear communication, particularly with regard to salary issues, and respectful treatment in job interviews are highly valued in the IT sector.

In accounting ...

  • 65.4% rejected a job offer because the salary was not clearly discussed in the interview.
  • 48.1% felt uncomfortable because the subsequent tasks were unclear.
  • 38.5% were put off by evasive answers about negative reviews on the Internet.

This data shows that transparency and clarity in communication are also particularly important in accounting. In addition, external factors such as the company's online reputation play a greater role than in other sectors.

While a feeling of appreciation and a clear presentation of tasks are crucial in the IT sector, accounting also places great value on external company evaluations and clear communication on salary issues. This shows that the demands and expectations of applicants vary in different industries and that companies should adapt their recruitment strategies accordingly in order to successfully attract the best talent.

Onboarding expectations: What do new employees expect from the induction process?

What new team members expect in their first 100 days on the job also varies greatly in different industries, particularly in finance and construction.

In finance, respondents attach great importance to support from their manager and regular feedback during the onboarding process.

Our data shows that ...

  • 30% of respondents expect their manager to support them wherever possible.
  • 25 % expect regular feedback from their manager.
  • 25 % expect to be given the freedom to shape their own working methods.

These expectations reflect a corporate culture that values support, constructive feedback and a certain degree of autonomy in the work process. In finance, an industry that is often characterized by a high degree of professionalism and structured ways of working, a detailed and supportive onboarding program seems to be particularly important.

In contrast, expectations in the construction industry are different.

The results show that ...

  • 26% of respondents expect to be introduced to colleagues on the first day.
  • 23% expect their manager to support them where they can.
  • 23% expect their manager to remain calm and composed, even when things get stressful.

These expectations point to a more pragmatic approach in construction, where the focus is on integration into the team and effective support from the manager. It seems that the construction industry favors immediate entry into work and getting to know colleagues and the working environment quickly.

The differences between finance and construction in terms of onboarding expectations show how different the requirements and needs of new employees in different industries can be. While a structured and feedback-oriented induction process is required in finance, the focus in construction is on immediate integration and practical support.

Job benefits: What benefits should companies offer to attract and retain employees?

Which benefits interested parties in different sectors prefer also varies greatly between sectors, particularly in finance and construction.

In finance, for example, respondents showed a clear preference for flexible working hours, working from home and retirement provision.

Our data confirms that ...

  • 79% of respondents see flexible working hours as an important job advantage.
  • 59 % of respondents value home office opportunities.
  • 43 % of respondents consider retirement provision to be an important benefit.

These expectations point to a corporate culture in finance that prioritizes flexibility, work-life balance and long-term financial security. In an industry that is often characterized by a high degree of dynamism and competitive pressure, such benefits seem to play a significant role in attracting and retaining employees.

In contrast, respondents in the construction industry place less emphasis on working from home and a stronger focus on retirement provision and further training.

The results show that ...

  • 47% of respondents consider flexible working hours to be an important job advantage - significantly less than in finance.
  • retirement provision is considered important by 43% of respondents.
  • 32 % of respondents in the construction industry consider further training to be an important benefit.

These findings point to a construction work culture that values flexible working hours but places less emphasis on working from home, likely due to the nature of the work. Further training appears to play an important role in career development in this sector.

The clear differences between finance and construction in terms of desired job benefits show how different the expectations and needs of employees in these sectors are. While finance particularly values flexible working conditions and the ability to work from home, construction places greater value on training opportunities and hands-on support. Companies should take these industry-specific preferences into account in order to effectively attract and retain talent in the long term.

Differences: Recruiting preferences in eleven different industries

We compared the responses to the data collected as part of our survey and gained insights into industry-specific differences. The most important result of our analysis: most sectors are not fundamentally different from one another. Differences are generally gradual and more pronounced for some questions than others.

Data-based candidate personas are essential to strike the right note with potential applicants in job advertisements and beyond and to meet their expectations in terms of benefits, interviews and onboarding. The Persona Institute is an expert in creating data-based personas, especially those that are important for your recruiting. Let us advise you or find out more about our various services.

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