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Continuous Candidates: Why Modern Workers Are Always Looking for Their Next Job

Continuous Candidates: Why Modern Workers Are Always Looking for Their Next Job
Credit: Svetlana Larina/Shutterstock

Don't be so sure that your employees aren't getting ready to jump ship. A new study from ManpowerGroup Solutions revealed that 37 percent of workers around the globe, and 41 percent of U.S. workers, are "continuous candidates" who are always looking for their next job opportunity.

Knowing that many employees aren't fully committed to their organizations, employers have more pressure than ever to improve their retention efforts if they want to keep their turnover to a minimum, according to the authors of the new research.

"In organizations where employers are not meeting their candidates' expectations or aspirations for advancement, that is where individuals will be more likely to always be looking out for their next opportunity," Kate Donovan, senior vice president of ManpowerGroup Solutions and global recruitment outsource processing president, said in a statement. [See Related Story: What Increased Job Hopping Means for Employers]

The research attributes continuous candidates to three main factors:

  1. New ways of working. The growth of the gig economy and on-demand jobs, like those with Uber and TaskRabbit, are changing the way people work and the types of jobs they look for.
  2. Increase in contract work. Technology firms have spurred an increase in contract work. Because they are constantly looking for employees with different skill sets, using contract employees allows them to quickly change with the times when one skill set becomes obsolete.
  3. Job loss. The recent recession, and the layoffs that ensued, was a clear sign to all employees that job security in today's environment is not guaranteed.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the study found that job happiness is one key factor in whether people are continuously looking for a new job; continuous candidates are twice as likely as other employees to express dissatisfaction in their current role. In addition, they are almost four times as likely to believe that the best way to advance their career is by changing jobs frequently, and twice as likely to think changing jobs is the best way to increase their compensation.

Continuous candidates don't just say they are looking for a new job; they are actively seeking them out. The research found that 29 percent of continuous candidates have applied to three to nine jobs in the past six months, compared to just 11 percent of non-continuous candidates. Additionally, 12 percent applied to more than 15 jobs during the previous six months, which is almost three times as many as their non-continuous counterparts, according to the study.

The research also found that continuous candidates are familiar with a range of interviewing techniques, including nontraditional methods and technologies such as videoconferencing.

"It is hypothesized that because these candidates are applying to more jobs more frequently, they are potentially exposed to a wider variety of interview formats and thus become more comfortable with them," the study's authors wrote.

So why are these continuous candidates always looking for their next opportunity? The survey found that money is the biggest reason: Of those surveyed, 33 percent said compensation was the biggest motivation behind searching for a new job. Other popular reasons included looking for an opportunity for advancement, a new type of work and better benefits.

ManpowerGroup Solutions offered nine tips to help employers retain existing talent and better screen for prospective employees in today's world of continuous candidates:

Clearly explain how to move up. It is critical that hiring managers clearly outline to job candidates that there are opportunities for advancement. It is important to proactively offer this information, instead of waiting for them to ask.

Follow through on what you outline. You can't just lay out a plan for advancement and never take action on it. Employers must create an employment experience that authentically mirrors their advancement messaging.

Highlight those who have advanced. Showing employees that moving up the ranks is possible is a good way to demonstrate that you are doing what you say in terms of advancement. Stories about these rising employees should be communicated internally to existing employees and externally to talent communities.

Don't limit advancement to promotions. Many of today workers' definitions of advancement are different from those of previous generations. Employers should open up their definition of advancement to include expanded roles, job variety, higher profile projects, and projects that involve giving back to the community or society.

Offer opportunities to learn. Employees are always looking for ways to adapt their skills so that they remain valuable to organizations. Employers can foster this opportunity by providing or reimbursing for professional development opportunities, internal and external training, or advanced degree programs.

Provide mentorship programs. Having a successful mentor within the organization is a great way to strengthen the bond between employees and their employers. Many younger workers identify the position they want and then network with the employee currently in that role. Instead of worrying that these workers may take their job one day, managers should offer opportunities for them to learn.

Build a talent community. Because many employees are looking for new jobs, make sure they consider you as a potential landing spot. Whether it is on social media, career sites or the company website, provide opportunities for candidates to receive job alerts.

Create a positive candidate experience. Employers often receive a number of resumes from job candidates who are underqualified for the open position. It is important to clearly communicate why they weren't a fit for the job in order to avoid creating a negative perception among applicants about your organization.

Don't look down on continuous candidates. Hiring managers need to understand that job-hopping is becoming more common and that they shouldn't discount candidates because of it. To properly assess a candidate, hiring managers must dig deep into the reasons for this type of behavior. Candidates who moved jobs frequently may reflect a desire for geographic mobility or a lack of advancement opportunity, not poor job performance or disloyalty.

"Companies need to create a culture that people don't want to leave; branding and trust are critical components of this," Sarah Peiker, head of RPO practice for ManpowerGroup Solutions Europe. "Employers are going to have to become an employer of choice."

The study was based on surveys of 4,479 employees throughout the U.S., the United Kingdom, China, Australia and Mexico. They represented a cross section of age, income, employment status, career level and industry. 

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.