Average Job Tenure Is Shrinking But There’s A Hiring Strategy For That

If there’s one observation that can be made in regard to the average job tenure at a company, it’s that these days, people generally don’t stay in one place for very long. By now, the assumption is made by many hiring managers at tech companies that within two or three years, the person they hire today will leave.

This begs the question: How does a hiring manager today recruit rising talent knowing that talent very well could have an eye on somewhere else before long?

The prospect of hiring someone today who may only last a few years may sound discouraging, but there are actually a number of useful approaches to consider so that you can best utilize your newest hire.

1. Think Short-Term At First – It’s Not A Bad Thing.

Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, has said that companies shouldn’t expect a long-term commitment from someone on Day One anyway, no matter who it is. Instead, Hoffman advocates for figuring out what kind of role it is that you’re trying to hire for and what the realistic expectations are for the duration of the role. Only after a period of time that there is really a common interest should you explore a long-term commitment on both sides.

If you’re hiring a candidate who has an average job tenure of only has two years or less, you may say, “OK, based on their track record, we can be fairly certain that this person’s only going to be here for two years. So let’s figure out how to utilize them. Perhaps we don’t need to invest six months in training them to do something if we have a feeling they’re going to be here for two years or less. Let’s ask them to do something they can accomplish on Day One. Maybe we won’t invest in training them to do more advanced or newer things until they pass a certain ‘checkpoint’ with us and we see there’s a commitment to stay beyond two years.”

2.     Examine The Individual’s Drive To Learn New Skills.

When the economy gets livelier, particularly in the high-tech fields that we’re constantly observing and dealing with, there will be more incentives to “look around” and more enticement to move to the next job. This goes hand-in-hand with more pressure to learn new things. Not every candidate possesses the drive to elevate their skill set. They can research things to learn and even want to obtain the knowledge of those skills, such as a new programming language, but it’s one thing to want and another to actually do. Those who take action and “do” evolve their skills will have greater leverage. It’s harder to find fault with someone changing jobs every few years when, at the same time, they’re growing to stay ahead of the curve and keeping up with cutting edge technologies.

However, if someone changes jobs every two years without advancing their skill set today compared to where they were before, it’s more likely that their personality is driving that behavior and it’s unlikely to change.

3.     See If They Have A Desire To Fully Understand Your Company.

Very few people are able to get really ahead within a company before they can figure out how the company actually works and who’s who in the company. Obviously that takes time, so take notice of how much this individual wants to learn about your processes, your people, your newest projects and more. That demonstrates a desire to get deeply integrated into the fabric of your company as quickly as possible.

Of course, even if they do that, it’s not to say that they’ll necessarily stay for the next 20 years. Some believe that, even though the company is good, if they truly want to get ahead, they need to leave and come back in order to get a bigger raise, bigger title, etc. This is more likely to happen if the person gains new knowledge and skills.

We know that companies like Apple and others don’t have a problem bringing people back who have worked there, left and came back – presumably because those individuals have gained new skills, new knowledge and new experience.

In this respect, a hiring manager like yourself shouldn’t begin with the assumption that “Anybody I hire today owes me loyalty for many years.” For that matter, the employee you may hire should not assume, “Somehow, this company’s going to take care of me and as far as my career path goes, we’ll figure it all out. I’ll be happy-go-lucky and won’t worry about things.”

4.     Use The Google Template For A Culture Of Learning

Where possible, companies may want to take a page from the likes of Google and create the kind of culture where people can step up and learn. At Google, the person could be spending some time learning new things rather than doing a specific project – because if the only thing an employee is doing is working on a project that is in front of them, the idea that somehow they will learn by osmosis and that everything new will “come to them” is just not realistic.

Don’t fall into the trap of saying, “Well, that’s Google and they have massive resources. Plus, people won’t leave there after a couple years.” First, it’s not about the size of the company but the approach of how to develop its people. Secondly, people do leave Google too, believe it or not.

It says a lot about a company’s culture to potential candidates and to the marketplace in general that yours is the type of business that is very big into pushing its people forward and encouraging them to spend time learning new technologies. Yes, gauge how long you believe that a person will potentially stay in your environment and have open discussions with them about their goals. But when you build a culture of education, you are taking charge of the culture you want to be in a proactive way and hiring people accordingly who fit well into that culture – rather than operating in a reactive way where you’re always scrambling to find the replacement of a person who leaves. You may not know when an employee will leave, but you can and should definitely prepare.

There’s no doubt that we’re living in an evolving world where the average job tenure is shrinking but you can still build a hiring and retention strategy to ensure your company is moving forward with a high level of talent. Roy Talman & Associates can be a vital partner in that strategy, so talk to us today about how to ensure your pipeline remains consistently strong.