Are Your Best People Ready to Leave for Greener Pastures?

Here’s a great post written by Lou Adler, a leading and forward thinking recruiting industry consultant. You’ll find a link to the article at

Over the past few months, I’ve been collaborating with LinkedIn’s research group on a survey designed to understand how job satisfaction impacts a person’s job-seeking behavior.  Here are some of the big findings:

  • While 79% of the workforce (North America) is very satisfied or somewhat satisfied in their current jobs, more than two-thirds of this group are willing to change if the new job represented a better career move.
  • None of the 77% of the workforce who consider themselves passive candidates are interested in job descriptions that emphasize skills, duties, competencies and experience requirements.
  • Middle managers and executives are more satisfied with their current positions than individual contributors. Despite this, most are still willing to explore opportunities that represent significant career moves.
  • The person who makes first contact with a passive candidate has the biggest impact on whether the person is recruited and ultimately hired. Few talent leaders or recruiters recognize the importance of this step.

One conclusion is the importance of recognizing that time is an employee’s most valuable asset. The best people use it more wisely than others for maximizing their personal growth and development. This same concept can be used to better understand why some people are passive job seekers and others more active.

The Career Zone model shown in the graphic tracks changes in employee satisfaction over time from high growth on the left, flattening in the middle, and declining on the right. Knowing where a person falls on the Career Zone curve provides a recruiter insight on what it would take to offer a more attractive opportunity. Much of this involves demonstrating how the prospect can better maximize his or her use of time by changing jobs for the right reasons.

Here’s a quick summary of each Career Zone:

  • Zone 1 consists of Super Passive candidates. These people are highly satisfied, currently making a significant impact, and not looking to make a job change. 21% of the people responding to the survey categorized themselves as Super Passive. You need an extraordinary career move and extraordinary recruiter to attract people in Zone 1.
  • Zone 2 is the domain of Explorers. These people are not looking, but due to a variety of circumstances are willing to consider other opportunities that represent significant career moves. They need to be contacted directly by a recruiter, but 43% of the survey respondents indicated they were Explorers. To get their attention though, the recruiter must convince the prospect to focus on the long-term aspects of the job, not the title, company, compensation or location. Bridging this gap is difficult, and it’s why first contact is so important.
  • Zone 3 represents the Tiptoers. While not actively looking, Tiptoers have decided to test the market by quietly reaching out to their close personal network to discuss potential next moves. 13% of the respondents indicated they were in this category. One of the best ways to find them is to make sure they contact one of your employees first.
  • Zone 4 represents the Very Active job-seekers. They are using all sources to find another job similar to the one they now hold. While 23% of the workforce is active, the best are still choosy, so you need to make sure your job postings are compelling, career focused and easy to find.

Recruiting the best people starts by understanding what motivates them to excel. This is often different than what drives job satisfaction. Knowing why can be the difference between retaining your best and brightest, or losing them to someone who does.


Lou Adler (@LouA) is the CEO of The Adler Group, a consulting and search firm helping companies implement Performance-based Hiring. He’s also a regular columnist for Inc. Magazine and BusinessInsider. His latest book, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired (Workbench, 2013), provides hands-on advice for job-seekers, hiring managers and recruiters on how to find the best job and hire the best people.

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