Canadians rate flexibility as their top job priority suggests a 2004 national survey of 22,000 professionals across Canada. However, as I read this survey on I began to wonder how priorities of young professionals in particular might differ.

So I conducted an informal survey of my own, asking friends and family — 35 and under — to rank their priorities using the same criteria as the survey. My findings suggest the majority of participants ranked the following as their top job priorities: challenging job/responsibility; base pay; flexible work schedule; ability to work on creating innovative solutions/strategies; and skill development.


My research is, admittedly, a little biased as I know the majority of my survey participants and the pool I polled from was no where near as large as the survey on Yet I was still curious as to how and why my survey participants chose their No. 1 job priority.

“A challenging job and responsibility is important. (It provides me) with an excellent opportunity to grow and to develop new skill,” says 25-year-old Ab Velasco. “Challenges stimulate us all intellectually and push us to excel.”

Niem Tu Huynh agrees that having a challenging job is important because it gives him the opportunity to create change.

“I like challenges in the workplace (because) I feel more productive when I can offer solutions to problems,” says 28-year-old Huynh.

Chris Johnston, 24, finds a challenging job is also most enjoyable.

“I think that a challenging job is the most important thing because I think the enjoyment level is highest when you are challenged and given responsibility. And who doesn’t want to enjoy their work?” he says.

Anna Cieslak, 25, holds a different point of view. She thinks it is important to be fairly compensated for her skills. “I feel that I should be compensated for the knowledge and value I bring to the company. Plus, the cost of living in Toronto is very high,” she says.

In the end, where you are in your life has an impact on your job priorities. Someone who has a family to support will have different priorities than someone who has recently graduated. But being aware of the fact that your priorities will change and checking in on them every year or two will keep you on the right track.

Patricia Tomasi, who listed job stability and base pay as her top priorities, admits that her priorities have changed. A few years ago she would have chosen a challenging job as her top priority. “But now I choose comfort and a stress-free lifestyle over a demanding career.”

Edmond Wu, 28, agrees with the findings of the survey.

“I find that I have been lucky to have flexibility in my current and past job in taking time off when I need to ... I wouldn’t really be able to adjust if a new job was very strict about that.”