Greener grass and the perpetual job search


Three people said virtually the same thing to me over three consecutive days: “I’ve found a great job with a good company. It offers everything I’m looking for! But please continue to keep me in mind for any new leads that you think I might want to consider.”

In the job market of the past, when these talented individuals with great workplace skills told me that they’d found their ideal jobs, I would have congratulated them and changed their status to inactive (at least for the short-term). So what has changed? Virtually everything!

Job search and career management

A recent survey on career management trends confirms that for most employees the job search process is now fully integrated into their career management activity.

  • 71% of people in the workforce are actively seeking and/or open to a new job, even though employment in most sectors is 95% of the eligible labor force.
  • 80% of respondents confirmed that they look for new jobs at least once a year and 58% look at least monthly.
  • 65% of respondents look again for a new job within 3 months of being hired.
  • 90% of respondents look at job boards again within 6 months of being hired!

These statistics help to account for what we’re seeing and hearing from even the most talented local candidates. Continuing to look for “greener grass” with a perpetual job search is increasingly the norm, not the exception.

Reasons for this job search trend

Why is a perpetual job search a more common trend?  In part, it may be backlash against the lack of employer loyalty to long-term and best-talented employees during the turbulent economic years of 2007 to 2012.  But I don’t think it’s just that because we’re seeing this trend even in individuals who dodged the layoffs, RIFs, and salary cutbacks of that period.

With the employment market substantially improved for most career paths, competitive salaries and better benefits are also improving as employers compete for the best talent.  So, while most employees are metaphorically looking for “greener grass,” it doesn’t seem to be primarily looking for higher pay or better benefit packages.

What seems to be key in each of the conversations I’ve had with talented people who continue their job search even after hire is their motivation for better career growth and development.  They want to have their skills utilized, but also developed.  They want to have their creativity engaged and their intellect challenged.  They want to receive opportunity from their employment, not just compensation.

4 recommendations for employers

What does this new trend mean for you as an employer?  Top four recommendations:

  • Be concrete in your interviewing and your onboarding processes about how you expect to work with your new employee for career enhancement and growth.
  • To retain your best talent and most productive workers, continue to reassess on a frequent basis not only what they’re contributing for your business success but also what your organization is contributing for their individual professional growth.
  • When an employee leaves, listen to what is said – and what is not said – in the exit interview about internal dynamics that will impact your ability to recruit and keep employees.
  • If your first choice for hiring took another offer, reach out to them again after 90 days, 6 months, and/or 1 year.  That’s when newly hired employees are (statistically) most likely to take a fresh look for greener grass in career development.

by Elyse Williamson


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