The give and the get

As an experienced AEC marketing leader I’ve worked with scores of folks and interviewed at least 100. Lately I’m noticing a trend that is challenging for those in leadership. As recently as five years ago, when I hired a new marketing coordinator, I could reasonably count on having them in the job for at least two years, which includes the year it takes me to train them into the job and the year it takes them to get good at it. While I’d prefer to keep experienced staff longer, I can live with the two-year delta if I don’t have growth path for that person. Lately, however, I’m both experiencing and interviewing staff who have been at one or more firms for a year or less at a time.

I recognize that, as a young person fresh out in the workforce, one is hungry for new challenges and wants to maximize their earning potential. However I’m not sure some candidates understand the math associated with getting value for a hiring decision.

HR stats typically say it costs about 1.5 times a person’s salary to hire and replace them. What that suggests is, when I invest in a new hire, I need them to stay a minimum of two years to see even the most nominal return on my investment. If I hire someone who stays in the job a year or less, my company spends more than we get for that person’s time in the job. (Sure, you’re working hard during that first year, but you’re not as efficient or effective as you’ll be when you really know the job, and while you’re learning it takes a notable amount of your boss and your team’s time to keep you efficient and effective.)

I’m not suggesting that anyone should stay in a job where they are mistreated. We’ve all had terrible bosses or worked at dysfunctional firms and we’re right to leave them. A good and fair boss wants you to succeed and grow, and also wants the firm to succeed and grow when they choose to hire you. Seems fair, right?

Right now, while it’s an employee’s market, “job-hopping” is easy. In the long run, I’m not sure it will serve most people well. Someone recently sent me a resume for a person who has had six jobs in the first five years of their full time professional career. On paper this candidate seems like a poor risk for my hiring investment.

Going forward in response to this trend (to the extent that such things are in my control of course) I’m considering the following:

Want a signing bonus? Sure, as long as you’re willing to pay it back if you don’t stay at the firm at least three years. Want to work from home? As long as you’re willing to spend at least your first six months working in the office so you get a clear understanding of our culture and your colleagues and I see you can successfully do the job, meet your deadlines, and keep your clients happy, I’ll be on board with that. Want to get paid to go to a conference or join a professional society? No problem, as long as you show me the value it’s going to create for our organization, not just for you personally.

Remember, a hiring decision needs to be a two-way street, so both companies and candidates need to make sure we give as well as we get.


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Filed under marketing, professionalism, team, Uncategorized, workplace behavior

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