18 Dec 2015

Job Jumping Juniors

The world of recruitment is constantly changing and that works on both sides - from a client perspective and from a job-hunter's perspective too.  As generations change, mindsets change and expectations change too.  I've written about this previously and there are plenty of exceptions to the 'rules' but where I think it is most important is with junior level candidates post graduation and I'm afraid I am pretty old school on this.  Increasingly frequently, I am seeing candidates who have perhaps between 8 and 12 months experience post graduation who having cut their teeth in an advertising (or marketing, or digital or PR) agency who have decided to move on.    It seems that the relief of securing a permanent job offer and now 'being on the career ladder' is short lived and quite quickly they become disillusioned with the role and they want to find something new.

Now, you could say that from a recruitment perspective, I shouldn't be complaining. After all, clients will often ask me to find them candidates with between 6-12 months experience so they don't have to train from scratch.  So having a regular pipeline of such candidates is theoretically a good thing.  However, I do think (and I've got quite a lot of evidence for this....) that the candidates who jump ship so early in their career, are starting a habit of job jumping and their reaction to difficult challenges in the office environment or if they don't like a new client account, or if they don't like a line manager....the answer is to move agency rather than to either try to solve the issue or to knuckle down and realise that throughout our careers we're going to have challenges thrown at us and we've got to be equipped with the skills to manage those challenges....by responding to them in situ.

I love helping junior level candidates. I've been in the industry for a long time and many people who I've placed at AE level, I've gone on to place them at AD level... but increasingly I'm having to counsel juniors to stay put.  On the one hand, I do get it.  Often a key driver is money and we all want to earn more.  However, the equation is really that more experience equates to more money and frankly, often a 6 month stint, doesn't justify the jump that the candidates are seeking.  

If you've accepted your first role in the industry and you're getting good experience, you're learning every day, you're being mentored/trained on the job and you're getting the hang of writing a creative brief or developing a wireframe....great!  Stay there for 18 months to 2 years and you'll have a lot more choice when it comes to the second role in the industry. You'll be more commercially focused, you'll have followed more campaigns through from concept to completion, you'll be able to say you've developed proper relationships with your clients and with your internal colleagues.  Learn from the challenges and then take that experience with you.  Clients like staying power - it demonstrates that you're likely to stay with them and they'll then want to invest in you.

Obviously sometimes these things are outside your control.  If you're unlucky enough to be made redundant or there are some other significant 'issues' then justifiably you can search for something new.  

I keep hearing junior level candidates telling me they've been 'headhunted' but really that's just lazy recruiters who have paid for a higher level of access on LinkedIn to search for 'Account Executives'...be very wary!  I know it's a good ego boost but it's worth reminding yourself of what attracted you to the current role and try not to be swayed by promises of more money.

Equally, I do think that employers are increasingly aware of this rising problem and they are doing more to retain staff and to ensure that there is a structured career progression.  If you're not - beware, you'll lose good people.  Well trained juniors are a valuable commodity and if you're not looking after them, they'll be poached.  Commitment to training and progression does buy you employee loyalty so it's worth investing in.

I hope that wasn't a rant.  It wasn't meant to be!