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Dr John Sullivan
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Work anniversaries are the best time to recruit passive candidates



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Rather than being data-driven, I have found that most recruiters contact employed prospects on a trial-and-error basis. However, there are specific times when employees who previously said “no and stop calling me” change their mind and are receptive to a recruiting call.

In case you didn’t realise it, the months immediately around an employee’s work anniversary are the time they are most likely to quit and accept a new job at another firm.

Yes, you have a much higher probability of getting a positive answer if you call the same recruiting target around their work anniversary date.

Why employees consider a new job in time for their work anniversary

There are several reasons why a work anniversary triggers many employees to begin a new job search. They include:

1. LinkedIn notifications make it hard to miss — Employees in this social media era are sure to be reminded about their anniversary date. All of their LinkedIn contacts will be automatically notified and many of them will reach out to congratulate them.

2. A work anniversary is an ideal time to reflect – On their first work anniversary, almost everyone reflects on whether they made the right decision to take their current job.

Their second and third work anniversary are also times for serious reflection on whether it’s now time to move on, because they didn’t make their expected progress in their career trajectory.

If the employee is unhappy, the first three work anniversaries will surely trigger some serious thinking on whether they want to endure another year at this firm.

In case you didn’t realise it, the months immediately around an employee’s work anniversary are the time they are most likely to quit and accept a new job at another firm.

3. Performance appraisal may coincide with the anniversary date – Many firms conduct performance appraisals on a new hire’s work anniversary date. Immediately after, they will likely feel under-appreciated if they didn’t get a large raise, a significant bonus, or a promotion.

When do most employees leave for a new job?

Recent data-driven research by Entelo, after reviewing a million resumes, shows that employees decide to leave their firm primarily at the peaks, which are the months close to their work anniversary dates.

The data shows a sharp dip in turnover rates immediately before each spike in turnover during an employee’s first three years. This dip means that the anticipation of something positive happening on a work anniversary briefly keeps many employees from looking for another job.

However, immediately after the work anniversary passes, they now know what, if any, positive changes are in store for them.

So the employee turnover rate literally doubles between the waiting period and the spike that occurs during the month or two surrounding their work anniversary.

It’s easy to find out when an employed target is most receptive

One of the predictive metrics for recruiting leaders is, when will external recruiting targets likely shift into “new job consideration mode”?

If you want to find out when an individual recruiting target who works at another firm is likely to be more receptive to considering a new job, here are some action steps to determine those times:

Average time in a job — Calculate the average time that this individual stays in a job over their last several jobs.

And use that information to identify the three-month period where, based on past patterns, they are likely to be considering a new one. Obviously, it makes sense to contact them before their average time in a job is about to run out.

The firm’s performance-appraisal month – Some recruiting targets work at firms that conduct all employee performance appraisals at the same time during the year (as opposed to their yearly work anniversary).

In these cases, you can assume that many employees will be frustrated during the month immediately following their year-end performance appraisal.

Almost every individual rethinks their job on their birthday. Contacting them on a “reflection day” is likely to get a more positive recruiting response than you would on a normal workday.

“Reflection days” – Almost every individual around the world rethinks their life and their job on both their birthday and on New Year’s Day. Other days of reflection may occur on a landmark birthday (turning 30, 40, 50, or 60) or when their last child leaves the nest.

Contacting them on a “reflection day” is likely to get a different and more positive recruiting response than you would on a normal workday.

“Right days” – These are the days immediately following a negative event where employees are likely to reconsider their future employment options.

Typical “right days” for an individual might include when their boss/best friend leaves the firm, when a major project they are working on ends, when their budget was cut, or when a major idea of theirs was rejected.

An entire firm or team can have “right days” also. These can be when the CEO quits, the firm faces a major scandal, a major layoff or merger is announced, after a major product failure or when the stock crashes. Recruiting during “right days” may get you several high-quality hires.

A year-end bonus is received – If a recruiting target receives a year-end bonus and they don’t qualify for another bonus until a complete year has passed, you can assume that immediately after receiving the bonus they are receptive to a new job opportunity.

An updated LinkedIn profile — Whenever a recruiting target significantly updates their LinkedIn profile or resume, assume that they are now more receptive to new job opportunities.

Their work anniversary – Once again LinkedIn makes it amazingly easy to identify when someone is having a work anniversary. But you can also find their current work anniversary month by looking at the employment starting dates on their resume.

ALSO READ: The boldest recruiting strategy of them all

This data should be used to predict internal employee turnover

Knowing when employed prospects are receptive to a new job has a great benefit for recruiters and hiring managers. But the same type of data can be used internally to predict who is likely to quit your firm, and when.

Although I have recommended one for years, few corporations (Google being the notable exception) or vendors have developed an effective turnover prediction process, which can actually identify which employees are going to quit before the employees know it themselves.

You might think that such an assertion is crazy, but if you survey your own employees, you’ll be surprised to learn that even they don’t know that they are most likely to quit immediately after their work anniversary.

You might think that such an assertion is crazy, but if you survey your own employees, you’ll be surprised to learn that even they don’t know that they are most likely to quit immediately after their first, second, or third work anniversary.

The lesson to be learned is that corporate retention efforts need to abandon intuitive decision-making and become data-driven.

Final thoughts

Consider this analogy: if you were going to ask someone to marry you, you know that there are certain days, like Valentine’s Day, where your chances of getting a yes improve dramatically.

Logically you should also know that asking on the wrong day, like the day that your potential spouse’s close friend was diagnosed with cancer, would not only be in bad taste, but it would undoubtedly get a “no, not now” answer.

Smart sourcers and recruiters realise that the timing of the contact is at least as important as the attractiveness of the job and the company. Rather than guessing or using trial and error to find the right time to make a recruiting contact, use hard data.

Consider this analogy: if you were going to ask someone to marry you, you know that there are certain days, like Valentine’s Day, where your chances of getting a yes improve dramatically.

The data in this case reveals that most currently employed individuals are most receptive to a new job conversation right after their anniversary date or immediately following their annual performance appraisal.

Smart talent management leaders will instruct their sourcers to increase their calls around these “right days.” But they will also go the next step and check their own internal data to see if anniversary dates or performance appraisals signal upcoming employee turnover in their own organisations.

The key lesson is, whether you work in recruiting or retention, timing is everything.

Called “the Michael Jordan of Hiring” by Fast Company magazine, Dr John Sullivan (pictured) is an international author and a headline speaker at the upcoming Talent Management Asia 2015.

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To be held in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Hong Kong in April this year, Talent Management Asia is Asia’s biggest conference on talent management and human capital strategy. For a global and Pan-Asian view of talent management, don’t miss this two-day conference.

To review the topics & agenda, check out the stellar speaker list and reserve your seat visit www.talentmanagement.asia before it’s sold out.

For more information please contact Carlo Reston on +65 6423 0329 or carlor@humanresourcesonline.net.



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