Why People Change Jobs - And Why It Matters


If youve ever lost a placement because a candidate turned down a job or worse, took a counteroffer it's because the new job didnt satisfy the persons motivation for change.

When you get right down to it, there are four basic reasons a person changes jobs. Each of the reasons will influence the candidates decision, to a greater or lesser extent. But generally, one of the factors is dominant, and, like a compass that wants to point North, will steer the candidate in a specific career direction.

The first factor is the candidates SITUATION, and has nothing to do with the job itself. Some people change jobs because theyre being laid off, or have a spouse whos being transferred to another city. So the need for change is based on circumstance. Or, maybe a loss of key benefits might initiate the search for a new job; or some other external factor, such as the jobs location, commute time or a change in the candidates personal of family needs will compel a person to seek out a different employer.

The second factor is MONEY. I've found that someone will change jobs for money only if the money intrinsically changes that persons lifestyle or self-esteem. Otherwise, the money is eaten up by taxes and has little significance. Or, the pursuit of more money involves taking a risk the candidate would just as soon avoid. Think about it. Would a ten percent increase on a $100,000 salary really motivate someone to change jobs? Probably no tunless that extra $10,000 had a super-strong emotional appeal or would enable the person to do something for his or her family that was otherwise out of reach.

Beware the Money-Motivated Candidate
As a recruiter, you have to be careful if money is the driving force behind a persons interest in changing jobs. In a bidding war between a new company and the incumbent, the incumbent wins nearly every time. So watch your step when it comes to money-motivated candidates.

The third factor involves HATE, as in, theres something the candidate hates or something that drives the person crazy at their current job. Whether its a particular individual, a work environment, a corporate culture, an attitude, a technology, a tool, or whatever, the bottom line is that the candidate feels trapped where he is. And whatever it is the candidate hates about his job will never change.

When dealing with the hate factor, you always have to ask the candidate if he's sought resolution or made a serious attempt to correct the problem. If he hasn't, you want to try and encourage the person to talk through the issue before you get too involved. Tell the candidate to go ahead and have that conversation with his boss, whether the issue is about money, responsibility, work assignment, recognition or difficulty with a co-worker. The last thing you want is to find the person a new job, only to find out that you helped resolve an issue that ends up keeping the candidate where he already is.

If the candidates situation absolutely can't be resolved, and if the new job takes away the hate factor, congratulations. Youve got yourself an iron-clad placement that no amount of money in the form of a counteroffer will satisfy. In fact, candidates who suffer from the hate factor will often change jobs, even if the money is the same or even less than they were making at a job they hate.

The fourth and final motivating factor deals with LOVE, or to be more specific, unrequited LOVE. When a person has a passion for doing something or working with like-minded people who share his valuesbut that role or relationship will never be availablethe frustration can become overwhelming. The good news is that if you can find an opportunity for that person that fills the void, nothing can stand in your way.

The sooner and more accurately you can figure out the motivation thats driving a candidates need for change, the greater your odds of making a match and having it stick. If you dont understand exactly what the candidate is looking for and whether the new job satisfies those needs you'll run the risk of flying blind. And as a recruiter, thats a frightening position to be in.

By Bill Radin
 BlackDog Recruiting Software Inc.
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