You might suspect that your best young managers are looking for a better gig—and you’re probably right. Research shows that today’s most-sought-after early-career professionals are constantly networking and thinking about the next step, even if they seem fully engaged. And employee-development programs aren’t making them happy enough to stay.
We reached these conclusions after conducting face-to-face interviews and analyzing two large international databases created from online surveys of more than 1,200 employees. We found that young high achievers—30 years old, on average, and with strong academic records, degrees from elite institutions, and international internship experience—are antsy. Three-quarters sent out résumés, contacted search firms, and interviewed for jobs at least once a year during their first employment stint. Nearly 95% regularly engaged in related activities such as updating résumés and seeking information on prospective employers. They left their companies, on average, after 28 months.
And who can blame them? Comparing the peripatetic managers’ salary histories with those of peers who stayed put, we found that each change of employer created a measurable advantage in pay; in fact, a job change was the biggest single determinant of a pay increase. This represents a significant difference from the past. Job hopping has long been viewed as a shortcut to the top, but research showed that was a myth for earlier generations, who paid a price in terms of promotions and often saw their salaries suffer as well.
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