US Vs Europe Hiring part two – The differences in what candidates look for

All candidates look for the same things don’t they? The differences in what candidates look for between the US and Europe….

I recently wrote about the hiring differences between the US and Europe that organisations experience but also there are subtle differences in what candidates look for too.

Candidates’ preferences do vary based on individual factors but there are some significant general differences to be aware of which may help you understand the nuances of each market when people are looking for new opportunities 

Some key factors are:

Work-Life Balance: In Europe, there tends to be a stronger emphasis on work-life balance compared to the US or certainly they are prepared to be more open about it. 

European candidates often value shorter work hours, generous vacation time, parental leave, and flexible working arrangements. In the US, while it is important, there is typically a stronger focus on an ‘entrepreneurial / do it’ mentality and so people are more reticent about raising this. In certain sectors career advancement and long working hours is common and actually is seen as ‘what you do’. 

Senior executives in particular are often seen to be ‘always on’

Compensation and Benefits: Expectations differ hugely. In the US, candidates often prioritize higher salaries, performance-based commission or bonuses, and stock options. European candidates often value comprehensive benefits packages, including healthcare coverage, pension plans, and more extensive social benefits like paid time off for personal reasons or professional development more.

Job Security: European candidates generally place a higher emphasis on job security and stability. Many European countries have stronger legal protections and regulations that provide employees with greater ‘stability’. In the US, candidates are accustomed to ‘at-will’ employment but this works both ways and they will up and move much more readily eager to seize opportunities for career growth and advancement over job security.

Company Culture and Values: This is important in both regions  but the specific aspects they prioritise may vary. European candidates often seek organisations that prioritise work-life balance, social responsibility, and sustainability. In the US, candidates may look for companies with a strong entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, and a focus on individual achievement.

Although energy drive and commitment are often seen as key in the US its is slightly more highly valued.

The US tends to have a more entrepreneurial culture, with a higher tolerance for risk-taking and innovation. Start-up culture is particularly prominent, and there is a strong emphasis on individual initiative and the pursuit of ambitious goals.

Career Development: Professional growth and development opportunities are important to candidates in both regions. However, US candidates may prioritise career advancement, opportunities for promotion, and a clear path to success. European candidates may value training and development programs, mentorship opportunities, and a healthy work environment that supports learning and personal growth.

So some of these may seem subtle but if you are looking to hire in either region you need to get your culture and benefits right to attract the right kind of person. Trying to transplant your existing US or European model to the other region may fall on rocky ground unless you adapt it.

Remember these are general observations of the markets and individual preferences can vary significantly. Factors such as industry, company size, and personal values also play a role in shaping candidate preferences. 

Ultimately, understanding the specific needs and motivations of each candidate is crucial for organisations to attract and retain talent, regardless of the region.

If you require any further information on this subject, please contact Peter Brophy via