Above: responses to “How long does it take you to decide whether your new job is a fit?”
One of the features of a strong labour market is the willingness of workers to quit their job without a new job to go to.
A microcosm of this trend was right in front of me when my eldest son and my daughter both quit their respective jobs earlier this year when neither of them was even close to an offer for, let alone had secured, a new job.
My daughter, a qualified pastry chef, was working in a small industrial kitchen in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and quit after four months due to the stress caused by her boss’ disorganisation. Her job search ended after three weeks having secured a job as the sole-charge chef at a daycare centre ten minutes from her home. Six months later she’s still there and enjoying her job – her decision to leave her previous job now fully vindicated.
My eldest son, a 2022 business/marketing graduate, left his first graduate job at a global shipping company in late March after five months in which he was always stretching the job to fill the hours, leaving him bored and frustrated. Much to his surprise it took seven weeks before he landed another job. The wait was worth it. He loves his new job in (student) recruitment (digital marketing campaigns for tertiary institutions) – his decision to leave his previous job now fully vindicated.
Both my daughter and eldest son had serious doubts about the long-term suitability of their respective previous jobs within the first two weeks. Despite these doubts, they dug in to see if things would get better with the passing months – things didn’t so they both quit.
These two personal examples are symptomatic of the wider labour market.
HR vendor BambooHR surveyed 1,565 full-time employees in the United States earlier this year about their experience of starting a new job.
Unsurprisingly, the first month is crucial with 70 per cent of new hires deciding whether a job is the right fit within the first month—including 29% who know within the first week (see graph, above).
A significant minority, 44 per cent, said they had regrets or second thoughts about accepting their job offer within the first week, in fact nearly one-quarter of respondents (23%) admitted to crying within their first week.
First impressions proved to be accurate for almost two-thirds of respondents with 62 per cent saying their first-day impressions of their new employer proved to be enduring. Just over six weeks (44 days) proved to be the average time taken by a new employee to decide whether they had made a mistake, or not, in accepting their new job.
For recruiters, these results are unlikely to be a shock however it no longer surprises me to discover an absence of rigour in many agencies’ QA post-placement processes.
If a candidate has resolutely made up their mind to resign from their new job then there’s little you can say to have them reconsider however there are a number of steps you can take to minimise the likelihood that they resign impulsively (including before they start).
Here are the five most important ones.
- Reconfirm logistics: A few days before your placement’s first day reconfirm with your client the critical details of day one. Examples being (assuming an in-office or on-site start) street address, public transport options and/or parking instructions, person to report to, start time, working hours, dress code, availability of coffee/lunch options onsite/nearby, and the details of their day one induction. Incorrect information, flawed assumptions, and unmet expectations can all be minimised with a pre-start confirmation of logistics.
- Provide your client with an induction checklist: Some organisations have very good induction processes but many do not. Some recruitment agencies send an induction checklist as an attachment (or link) when they confirm the placement of a candidate to prompt the client into action. In the same way a recruiter is relieved when a placement is confirmed, a hiring manager feels similarly and may then forget to action the necessary aspects of a new employee’s first day (eg email address, login, tools/equipment etc) that make their new hire feel expected and welcome.
- Make introductions: If you have made other placements with the client or know other employees within the organisation then introducing your placement to these contacts, via Linkedin or other appropriate platform, can remove (or at least minimise) the “I don’t know anybody” feeling of apprehension that many new starters experience.
- Manage expectations: If you have made, and followed up with, recent placements with that client you should know what they’re going to find out during the first week or two of your placement’s tenure. If you know that, for example, the company’s hardware is outdated, the receptionist is the source of all unofficial knowledge, where the best local cafe is or all the free parking nearby is gone by 7.45 am, then that’s the type of information worth communicating to your placement before they start.
- Check-in regularly: The BambooHR survey results highlight the importance of the first week of a placement’s new job. I was trained to call my placements on day one; then on day five; towards the end of week two; during week four and then book a coffee or lunch between weeks 6 and 8. This investment of time in the post-placement follow-up strengthens your relationship with them and maximises the likelihood that they tell you first if they are harbouring doubts about their new job.
The most effective check-in questions I learned were: “What aspects of the job are you enjoying/not enjoying?”, “Where have your expectations of the job been met/not met so far?”, “What feedback from your manager have you received?”, “What relationships have you built so far?” and “How are you expecting the job to develop over the next couple of months?”
I discovered the last question to be particularly revealing as I was asking my placement to talk about the future as they know it. If they spoke in specific and positive terms then the likelihood of a near-term resignation was unlikely. If they talked about the future of their job in vague and unenthusiastic terms it was a warning sign they were underwhelmed by their job and were a flight risk.
The profitability of a placement is only apparent after the credit period expires. Recruiters who do not take simple and consistent steps to prevent credits due to a candidate’s resignation are failing to complete all the necessary work to minimise refilling a job for free. A refilled job is almost always an unprofitable placement.
Post-placement follow-up is an important part of a recruiter’s job; a part that many neglect due to ignorance, indifference, or incompetence.
Don’t be one of those recruiters.