by Frank Burtnett, Ed.D., NAPS Certification and Education Consultant
Individuals seeking a job change arrive at that critical intersection in their careers from a variety of avenues. In order to serve these myriad motivations, candidates and the search, recruiting and staffing professionals serving them both need to examine the "why" factor. If one puts the "why people change jobs" question under a research microscope, a plethora of studies, reports and essays on the subject emerge. Unfortunately many of these findings are repetitive or seem to using different words to say the same thing. It took a meta-analysis of the various reports and essays by the author to bring a measure of clarity to the subject.
Before reporting on this analysis, it's important to distinguish the difference between career and job change. Changing careers typically means returning to an earlier place in one's career development and starting over or recycling forward again. The desire to change jobs is usually driven by a different set of factors. It typically means the individual is comfortable or satisfied with their career or occupational role, but find themselves in an employment situation that is limiting or unsuitable.
A second distinction that should be considered is that changing jobs is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, a 2016 study by the U.S. Department of Labor reported that the average person navigates a dozen job changes over the course of their career. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2018 revealed that average employee tenure in the U.S. was 4.2 years, down from 4.6 years four years previously.
Why People Change Jobs?
People seek to change jobs for a range of reasons, both controllable and uncontrollable. An employee has little to say when the firm or business where she/he works is closed or moves to another locale. Similarly, employees are victimized when entities merge or employees are swept up in a reduction of force brought on by economic trends and conditions.
There are another group of factors---controllable conditions---where the employee is safely (not necessarily comfortably) employed, but for a variety of reasons wants to actively or inactively seek employment elsewhere.
A review of the business and human resources literature suggests that search, recruiting and staffing professionals are likely to encounter a significant number of individuals motivate by one or more of the following ten considerations:
- Desire for new challenges and opportunities for career development
- Poor relationships with peer employees and/or engagement with managers, supervisors and leadership
- Dissatisfaction with the general workplace culture or environment
- Limited opportunities to use knowledge, skillset and experience
- Absence or lack of respect for efforts and achievements
- Alignment of employee and employer values
- Inflexible protocols and demands of employment breeding stress and anxiety
- Compensation and benefits that fail to keep pace with field or industry
- Feelings of discomfort brought on by discrimination or harassment
- Denied or limited life -work balance objectives
Knowing What the Candidate Wants and Wants to Avoid
The factors and conditions above should not be considered an exhaustive list of why people become candidates for job change and it is often combination of factors that bring them to the relocation intersection. Search, recruiting and staffing professionals can facilitate positive transitions by guiding candidates through a self-awareness process that ascertains what they "want" and " want to avoid" in their future work role and employment situation. Screening opportunities through a "want/want to avoid filter" will contribute to the facilitation of successful job transitions.