Monday, 9 October 2017

Questions Applicants Should Ask - And Employers May Not want Asked

When we receive applications for a role, the review and shortlisting process will inevitably have some focus on past employment history and lengths of tenure.

We dissect if they have been job hoppers particularly between jobs that are quite similar.

And opinions here differ. A very stable employment history with lengthy periods at one employer to one person suggests loyalty, commitment and reliability. To another it may imply mediocrity, lack of ambition, set in their ways and even laziness.

How valuable would it be if the applicant was provided details of the average length of tenure of staff with the employer they are applying to join?

How would the employer view such a question and would they even have an answer?

The applicant may view longer average tenure periods as indicators of a caring employer who values their staff in tangible and cultural ways. They may also perceive an employer who invests in the development of their staff and seeks to provide opportunity for advancement and progression.

I clicked on a link today motivated by it being shared or liked on LinkedIn by numerous connections. I was curious.

It turned out to be an advertisement for a role with a what in local terms is a major employer. I skimmed through the detail and was surprised and impressed by what had been outlined at the end of the add, presumably by the website.

There was a graphical representation of the number of employees in the group together with staff number growth details.

This is a group that boasts nearly 1000 employees.

Of more interest was additional information of the average length of tenure of employees of the Group.

It prompted me to wonder just what length of tenure would be considered a positive by a strong and talented applicant.

In this case, the average listed is 3.6 years.

My first reaction is this was low, and not a positive for a Group of this size. However, I had nothing upon which to base my reaction so I sort additional opinions.

The first feedback was provided by someone who was aware of the advertisement and therefore the name of the employer. They felt it was very low and therefore a negative.

The second opinion only knew the size of the employer and not the name or industry. Their view was that is depends on the business climate and felt acceptable minimum in the current environment is in the order of 4 to 6 years.

The third opinion provided was more detailed suggesting 3.6 years is very good for certain industries such as Hospitality but not so good for less transient, more traditional industry sectors.

The employer category in this case is Financial Services and most definitely a traditional industry.

I reached several conclusions as a result of this exercise:

When looking at employment histories of applicants, we should asses this against the average tenure of each of their past employers in order to determine loyalty and stability. If they remained in their last role 3 years and average tenure for that employer is 1.8 years it is arguably more positive than a 5-year term for an employer with an average of 8 years.

When seeking new staff, we want the best we can attract. Making a bigger deal of average employment periods for our organisation may well contribute to attracting good and motivated applicants.

Executive and Line Managers/Leaders should have tenure targets as part of their performance assessment’s and these should be accountable objectives.

Finally, with this information being provided, we may well see more applicants asking the question about average length of tenure and perhaps those who do, should move higher up the short list.

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