The Ps: What are you prioritising?

20 Jul 14:00 by Samantha Knowles


When sharing advice about career options, career developments and perspective, we often pose the question “what do you want to achieve from your ideal next career move?” It may seem obvious that we may want to move onward and upwards, but do we take a moment to consider what “ideal” looks like?

Does your ideal next career move reduce your commute so you can better spend this “saved commuting time” with family or friends, perhaps be more present for the children, around at bathing/bed time? Is the ideal that your next career can offer or maintain a flexible working arrangement to allow you to work from a home office on occasions? There are many “ideals” out there and certainly from the conversations I have, I am seeing the following pattern of questions emerge from candidates to whom I pose the “ideal” question. I am calling these candidate-led questions The 3 Ps.


  1. Pay (how much does the role pay)
  2. Positioning and Perspective (at what level of responsibility will this role sit and what are the career development opportunities available)
  3. Placement and Pattern (where is the role located and is there flexibility to work from home)


This has me wondering – is this line of questioning the same for non UK based candidates and will priorities differ depending on where my candidates are based? So I pay attention to how a candidate articulates interest in an opportunity and what Ps appear to be key and this is what I am noticing: for UK based candidates the order tends to be as written above, with the question of pay being asked first. However, for European based candidates, the order switches, noticeably: Positioning and Perspective, Placement and Pattern, Pay.

Why? In the European market, is it the case that European candidates want to comprehend the scope of the role before they raise pay? I am not naively suggesting that pay is of less importance than other Ps - of course it’s not and collectively I believe the 3 Ps are fundamental markers in determining the right next move for a candidate and are vital to get right. But I am seeing time and time again UK based candidates are more forward in asking the Pay question, be that at the beginning of a conversation, or quite frequently even before a meaningful conversation about the ideal next career move has taken place. This is an interesting analysis, and one which appears to be backed up by Investors in People’s 2017 employee sentiment poll: UK employees ranked ‘fair salaries’ as the most important, followed by ‘opportunities for personal development’ and ‘work-life balance’.

Let’s suppose that UK based candidates are awash with approaches by my industry peers compared to European based candidates, so to wheedle out what is “ideal” for UK based candidates, pay is the most effective differentiator….supposing also it might be cultural and UK based candidates are conditioned to ask the Pay question, needing to understand at the outset financial, as opposed to intrinsic, rewards (which may support why the poll found that nearly 1 in 3 UK employees are unhappy in their job).

What do you prioritise? How do you rank the 3 Ps? We’d love to know.