Why Do People Switch Jobs? It’s Mostly the Same No Matter How Much They Make

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Jul 24, 2018

Here’s the big takeaway from this latest bit of candidate data from Ladders, the career site for six-figure jobs: When it comes to pay, perks, and job satisfaction, people looking for high-paying positions seem to have many of the same issues as candidates further down the economic totem pole.

Yes, how people feel about these issues seems to be pretty universal no matter how much or how little you’re looking to get paid.

Here’s some of the data from Ladders to the question, “What is the worst part about your job?” It comes from a new Ladders report titled Motivations for Making the Big Career Move

See if you don’t agree that the responses sounds similar to what you have heard from candidates in other surveys who weren’t necessarily looking for $100k+ jobs:

Why Candidates Move

Some 94 percent of job seekers say they would take their dream job immediately if it came along (Editor’s note: what’s going on with the other 6 percent who wouldn’t take their dream job?)

Two-thirds (67 percent) of candidates said they would be willing to make an immediate job switch — even for a position that wasn’t their ideal one;

Only about one in five (18.8 percent) of respondents said their boss was the main reason for job dissatisfaction (Editor’s note: this is more of the ongoing drumbeat in surveys that bad bosses are not a huge issue behind why most employee quit);

Pay was cited as the worst factor of their current job by more than 30 percent of respondents — specifically among those in health care, HR, marketing, sales, science, and education.

As in all surveys, and the analysis that accompanies them, digging into the details and the interpretation of what those details mean is what you need to do if you care about this kind of insight.

Pay Is More of a Factor Than a Bad Boss

For example, the “bad boss” excuse for why employees are jumping ship gets some pointed discussion in the analysis of “Why Candidates Leave.” It says, in part:

“Countless articles have been written about people leaving bosses, not companies. However, Ladders Third Page data indicates that the picture is much more complicated than that. When job seekers were asked about the worst part of their current job, just 18.8 percent of respondents identified their boss as the main reason for their dissatisfaction.

Pay, however, was cited as the worst factor by more than 30 percent of respondents, with significant concentrations of dissatisfaction among professionals in healthcare, HR, marketing, sales, and science and education.”

A few more items from the Ladders Motivations for Making the Big Career Move survey data fall into the category of employee engagement, such as:

Candidates across every function and experience level cited the knowledge that they’re providing a valuable service as the best part of their current job.

People in technology, product management, marketing, science, and education tend to value the opportunity for ongoing learning as part of their careers, while those in sales and business development place more value in meeting interesting people.

These findings aren’t terribly surprising overall … except for the fact that they’re coming from highly paid people who are looking to make a move to another high-paying job.

Some 65 Percent of Respondents Make More Than $100k

And just how highly paid are these candidates? The methodology of the Motivations for Making the Big Career Move survey lays it all out.

“Since its launch in May 2018, Ladders’ Third Page survey platform has collected more than 2 million answers to questions from more than 16,500 job seeker members. The breakdown of respondents by function is as follows:

  • Operations & general management — 24 percent;
  • Sales & business development — 20.7 percent;
  • Marketing, media, & design — 10.1 percent;
  • Accounting and finance – 10 percent;
  • HR & legal — 9.9 percent;
  • Technology — 9.8 percent;
  • Healthcare — 5.8 percent;
  • Project management — 4.6 percent;
  • Engineering & construction — 2.7 percent; and,
  • Science & education — 2.3 percent.

Approximately 60 percent of respondents currently earn between $100K -$250K. A further 23.3 percent earn $80K to $100K, while 5.4 percent earn more than $250K.”

Yes, you read that right; some 65 percent of the 16,500 job seekers who provided the data in this survey make more than $100,000 per year. That’s a lot of money, of course, but as I noted earlier, it seems that no matter how much money one makes, the motivations for why people decide to leave a job are pretty universal.

Good Advice Regardless of What You Pay

What I found more useful were the recommendations Ladders Motivations for Making the Big Career Move had for “recruiters, hiring managers, and corporate talent executives.” It’s pretty good advice for any recruiter or hiring manager no matter how much you’re looking to pay the job candidate.

Take time to consider who your candidate is and where they’re at in their career before making an approach.

Sell the sense of mission, not just the company or the job title — especially for older, more experienced candidates.

For younger candidates, compensation and title may be effective in grabbing initial attention, but the sense of mission will be important to keep them engaged through the recruitment process.

While perks and benefits are viewed as nice to have by a majority of candidates, they’re not a high-enough priority for most candidates to be valuable as part of the recruitment outreach messaging.

Keep in mind that, while candidates may have things in common with one another, their needs will be very different based on the individual. As such, researching candidates at the individual level, rather than making assumptions based on function or age, is the real key to making authentic connections and better hiring decisions.

I say this about all surveys and research, but that’s because it’s true — what you get out of a survey depends on how much time you spend digging into it. Yes, this one has a lot of findings that aren’t all that surprising, but what you get out of it depends on how much time you spend going through it to find what may impact you.

If you’re interested at all, click on this link to get your copy of Ladders Motivations for Making the Big Career. I think you’ll find it to have some useful information that will sharpen your thinking about what it takes to land the best talent no matter what the price range.

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