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Tenuous Tenure

By May 20, 2022No Comments

As Kayne West penned on 2010’s Gorgeous; “I was looking at my resume, feeling real fresh today” Today marks the second day of feeling relatively fine since I finally got snagged by Covid. For the last week, the little wāhine and I have been staging a John & Yoko-Esq Bed-In, not for peace but in protest of runny noses and persistent coughs. So like Ye, not only am I feeling pretty fresh today I’ve also been taking a look at the ol CV. For your classic, hoverboarding, Pokeman Card hoarding, 90’s nostalgia lording millennial, my tenure at each job is pretty stable. I’m coming up on my 6th year here at Rice, prior to that I had 3 good years at Hays Recruitment and my first ‘real’ job’ post-Uni was for a respectable year. It doesn’t show the whole story though. Is tenure becoming less of an expectation and more of a rarity? What causes people to leave their jobs? Come with me past the mountains of snotty tissues and previously discarded negative RAT tests to find out.

Our industry is a bit unique. Firstly, we rely on tenures being cut short to make a living. But, because we’re in the consistent pursuit of targets it’s understandable that internally there’s more fallout, with the temptation to throw the towel in too much for some to take. Sales is the oldest profession in the world, dating back to 2400 BC. Not only has it been going the longest time but, the current Guinness World Record holder for the longest time spent in one job is a Sales Manager! Walter Orthmann who hails from Brusque, Brazil has been with ReneauxView for the past 84 years! The textile company brought on a young Walt back in January of 1938 when he was just a plucky 16-year-old. Now at the grand old age of 100, he puts his tenure down to adapting to swift change and liking what he does. Recruitment is a bit of an offshoot of sales and for those who googled ‘oldest profession,’ it is more aligned to that. Our ‘product’ is a person, with free will and the potential to mislead or omit certain details. Not to rain on Walt’s parade but a roll of cloth is never going to suddenly disappear only to resurface to change its status on LinkedIn. In recruitment, we have a higher turnover simply because, it’s pretty tough. You have your faith in humanity tested on the daily and while the highs are highs the lows are low as. As a result, the industry burns through a lot would-be recruiters.

The Pandemic has thrown a bit of a spanner in the works as far as tenure goes. Prior to Covid, according to Stats NZ, the average tenure was around 4 years. Certainly, a lot of the market has been affected by circumstances out of their control. It would be easy to say that ‘if they were billing, they’d still be in the job” but that’s simply not true. In fact, I’ve heard of billers being cut due to the amount of comms they were in line to make. From my own experience in the market, I’d say 3 years is the average tenure of a good recruiter. At least for them to get a bit curious at what else is out there, I know it got to me. I always ask consultants who else they interviewed for when they took their job and what factors went towards their decision. It’s something I’ve noticed with our ACCESS candidates in relation to their positive tenure. For those that don’t know, it’s our new to recruitment event. We invite 10 candidates and 10 clients to an evening of speed interviewing, 7-minute elevator pitches that then lead to follow-up interviews in the office. These candidates get to meet with a huge cross-section of the market. As a result, when they make they make their final decision on what agency to go to, it’s an informed one.  If you don’t shop around initially you’re always going to be curious as to what else is out there.

So, what is it that get’s people to stay? Recognition is a big one, consultants who are stagnant are far more susceptible to a hit-up. Giving someone more responsibility or setting out the pathway to promotion is essential. Introducing a productivity incentive not related to profitability is a good way of sharing the kudos. Our pals over at Bloomberg had some data from the states in relation to the ever-growing sector of the industry

Two-thirds of millennials who left their jobs in 2021 cited mental health reasons, according to a Mind Share Partners survey, and the proportion for Gen Z was even higher, at 81%

I can see that being loudly shouted from the driver’s seat during a roadie, drowned out by Bluetooth earphones connected to a YouTube video of someone commentating on someone commentating on someone opening a box. I think we do a pretty good job in NZ when it comes to our approach to Wellness. Most recruitment firms have an established flexibility policy and will often give ‘recharge’ days to be used as and when people need them. Authenticity is key. If you promote a policy that encourages positive mental health then a WFH day can’t be met with an eye roll or a hint of skepticism.

It’s hard to keep staff nowadays. Especially in recruitment and especially in NZ! Recruiters would’ve been approached more in the last year than they would’ve in the previous two combined. We don’t have candidates to place and we have less of the people to place them. Tenure is created by both sides; the employer and employee. People need to perform in order to remain in the job and other people need to provide the right setting for them to want to stay. I’ve got another 78.5 years to go at Rice before I dethrone Ol Walt but when I’m a 111.5 yr old head in a jar, I’ll likely still be pretending like I know what I’m talking about.