When I hire people I’m usually paying attention to the time the candidate spent in each job. While I accept the fact that companies and people don’t stay married for 8, 10, 20 years any more as they did when I started my career, it’s still a red flag to me to see someone with 3 jobs in 4 years with 3 different companies. It says as much to me about the company as it does about the candidate.
I’m not speaking about people who enter a firm and get promoted a few times in a short period. That can be great – they’re a star and are moving up rapidly- or not so great – the company is in trouble and is throwing internal people a little more money and a bigger title instead of hiring a more qualified person that may cost more, for example. You need to probe to find this out!
When you’re hiring, hopefully you’re thinking as much about what the candidate doesn’t know as what they do. It’s what they don’t know that represents their growth potential in the job. Too often, we try to hire someone who knows it all already – they can slide in and do the job with little or no training. That’s a great short-term fix but they will probably grow bored and restless shortly and you’ll have to hire for the job again.
Employees leave – it’s a fact of business life. But they should be leaving for the right reasons – new challenges, the next step in their career path, the chance to work for a legend in the business (I’m not hiring) – not for the wrong reasons – they hate their job, they hate their boss, they hate the corporate culture. I’ve had people leave in a year but generally they were younger folks who were just trying on different businesses. When they left, they went and did something totally different, not jump to a competitor.
What’s the average tenure in your company? Is it a revolving door? Has the institutional knowledge base flown the coop or are there people around who have grown up with the company? What are you doing when you hire to be sure you’ll recoup your investment in each new person you bring on?