Four in 10 employees in the United States say they are always looking for the next job opportunity, which presents a significant retention challenge for HR, but at the same time, a remarkable opening for talent acquisition efforts.
ManpowerGroup Solutions, a recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) firm based in Milwaukee, surveyed 4,479 job seekers in October 2015 from five influential employment markets around the world (Australia, China, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States). The research showed that 37 percent of employees overall are always searching for their next job opportunity.
About 1,300 respondents were from the U.S., where 18 percent said they have applied to between three and nine jobs in the last six months and 7 percent said they have applied to more than 15 jobs during the previous six months.
The rising participation in alternative forms of employment such as freelance and contract work in the United States may be behind the prevalence of job hopping here, compared to the other countries surveyed, according to Manpower. Only Mexico ranked higher in self-proclaimed job hoppers, with half of respondents there saying they are always looking for their next job.
"Continuous candidates are the new normal," said Kate Donovan, senior vice president of ManpowerGroup Solutions and global RPO president. "Employers in denial about this phenomenon risk being left behind in the global competition for recruiting and retaining top talent."
Who Are the Job Hoppers?
Donovan explained that the research shows that older Millennials with more work experience are most likely to be habitually looking for jobs. Seventy percent of respondents ages 25-34 versus 30 percent of those ages 18-24 said they are always looking for the next opportunity.
Opportunity for advancement is cited as a top reason employees look to make a move, after compensation.
"In organizations where employers are not meeting their candidates' expectations or aspirations for advancement, that is where individuals will be more likely to always be looking out for their next opportunity," Donovan said.
Plenty of research has documented that Millennials put a premium on personal development and career opportunities in the workplace, and the next generation of workers coming behind them harbor even more entrepreneurial career designs. A recent survey from Stockholm-based employer branding advisory firm Universum found that 55 percent of Generation Z respondents (those born after 1995) around the world indicated an interest in starting their own company; in Africa and in Central and Eastern Europe, that number is closer to 75 percent.
"Their definition of success is changing, and they don't feel tied to a large company," said Melissa Murray Bailey, former president for the Americas at Universum and currently the director of Asia-Pacific sales for LinkedIn.
Additional findings from the Manpower survey sets job hoppers apart from their colleagues:
- They are twice as likely as those who did not identify as always looking for their next job to express dissatisfaction with their jobs.
- 43 percent believe every job is temporary.
- They are almost four times as likely (38 percent vs. 10 percent) to agree with the statement "the best way to advance my career is to change jobs frequently."
- They are more than twice as likely (57 percent vs. 24 percent) to agree with the statement "the best way to increase my compensation is by changing jobs frequently."
- They are more active on job sites and job-related social media than their colleagues who are not looking for jobs.
- They are more comfortable with newer interviewing formats such as Skype and Vine than their colleagues who are not looking for jobs.
Feature Career Pathways
Recruiters and hiring managers must be able to proactively articulate a candidate's opportunities for advancement to specifically appeal to job-hopping candidates who equate changing jobs with personal and professional satisfaction. "Career pathways are an increasingly important component of the employer value proposition," Donovan said. "To engage the best and brightest talent, employers must offer this information upfront, in a variety of locations and interactions and not wait for candidates to ask."
For example, emphasize the company's actual employee promotions across recruitment channels, said Shannon Smedstad, an employer branding and social recruiting expert based in Philadelphia. "A company doing this well is Enterprise Holdings, which prominently posts the number of promotions on their career site," she said. "Additionally, I recommend sharing promotion data with recruiters who can weave it into their everyday candidate conversations."
Smedstad urged employers to make use of their employees' experiences. "Highlighting real employee stories is an effective way to take a statement like 'We offer career advancement opportunities' from nebulous to relatable," she said. "Employee stories make for great employer brand content to amplify via your career site and social channels, discuss during in-person conversations, and promote within your internal employee communications."
Scoop Up Unsatisfied Talent
The potential for higher workforce turnover represents an opportunity for employers to build talent communities for current and future needs.
"Talent communities are an evolving, innovative tool for sourcing candidates and maintaining a qualified pipeline that serves to continuously promote the brand to past, present and future employees," said JoAnn Corley, founder and CEO of The Human Sphere, a talent management consultancy based in Atlanta.
Since job hoppers tend to make frequent use of social media, Corley said, recruiters can forge talent communities from social media engagement through private LinkedIn and Facebook groups, an online newsletter sharing promotions and positive updates, and in-person social networking events.
"Make it easy for continuous candidates to add themselves to an employer's talent community," Donovan said. "Whether it's on social media, career sites or the company website, articulate opportunities for candidates to join your database and receive job alerts."
Some hiring managers might think applicants whose career paths reflect job-hopping activity are disloyal. Training hiring managers to properly assess job-hopping candidates will be increasingly important.
As HR looks to incorporate and leverage trends and behaviors once seen as negative, "we will need to let go of old-school beliefs that will hinder our own adaptation as HR professionals," Corley said. "As a former recruiter, [I know] length of time at an employer was seen as a sign of stability and a statement of character. If we see candidates now from that point of view, we're in trouble."
Employees leave companies for a variety of reasons, not all due to mistakes they may have made, she added.
"To properly assess a candidate, hiring managers must dig deep into the reasons for this type of behavior," Donovan said. "Candidates who moved jobs frequently may reflect a desire for geographic mobility or a lack of advancement opportunity, not poor job performance or disloyalty."