Wooden figures of men and a woman's hand drew a question mark with a marker on a blue background. The concept of searching for a candidate for a vacancy

With quits and open jobs still at record numbers (4.2 million and 10.7 million, respectively, in June), it’s no surprise that companies everywhere are struggling to secure talent. Globally, 40% of employees are likely to leave their jobs within the next three to six months. And many employees aren’t just switching to another employer — they’re moving to different industries (48%) or leaving the workforce entirely (17%).

So how can hiring teams find candidates and keep them around? According to new research from McKinsey & Company, they may need to start looking beyond “traditionalists” — a large pool of workers who are drawn to compensation, advancement opportunities, and other traditional job perks. Because, in doing so, they’ll tap into several other employee groups, with different, nontraditional preferences and priorities.

McKinsey & Company identified the following five talent pools for employers to be aware of, as well as insights into how to better appeal to them.


Traditionalists are career-minded and value standard workplace benefits like competitive compensation, a good job title, and the chance to climb the corporate ladder. These employees are more likely to stay with their current company and unlikely to leave unless they’ve already secured another job elsewhere, making them ideal hires. 

Though employees like this aren’t hard to find, they’re becoming shorter in supply. And pursuing them can lead to a bidding war with competitors, continually raising pay and perks to win them over.


Driven by stressors during the pandemic, this group forged their own path away from the traditional workforce. Members of this group are generally between 25 to 45 years old and have started start-ups, become self-employed, or taken part-time and gig work. So they’ve become accustomed to having more freedom in where they work, what hours they work, and what kind of work they do. 

Drawing this group back to traditional work will require a strong compensation package that outshines what they’re making through nontraditional work, as well as flexibility and a sense of purpose. 

Caregivers and others

Home life has become a priority for this group, and many have paused their careers to take better care of loved ones and themselves. Members of this cohort tend to be between the ages of 18 and 44, and more women fall into this category than men.

To accept a traditional job, this group would need more flexibility without missing out on career advancement opportunities. Shorter workweeks, flexible hours, and part-time options are appealing to them, as is support for their health and wellbeing.  


This cohort is primarily younger, between the ages of 18 and 24, and is less focused on compensation. Flexibility, career development and advancement opportunities, meaningful work, and a supportive community top their list of workplace priorities. 

Compared to other personas, idealists are more likely to prioritize a welcoming, inclusive workplace community, so employers who want to reach this group will need to strengthen their company culture and diversity initiatives. 


Comprising retirees and people who are no longer seeking employment, members of this group might be willing to return to traditional work for the right opportunity. 

Workers who retired early in the pandemic are gradually starting to go back to work, making this a growing talent pool for hiring teams to tap into. One in five seasoned workers are likely to return to the workforce this year, with many driven by financial concerns. That said, it may take more than a paycheck to persuade them to come aboard — meaningful work is also important to this group. 

Appealing to all of the above personas will require companies to reinforce traditionalist values — like compensation and benefits packages, job titles, and career paths — while offering more of the things nontraditional job seekers want — like flexibility, a solid workplace culture, and health and wellness support. 

To learn more about adjusting talent sourcing strategies and reaching these talent pools, see McKinsey’s full report.