How to Tell If One of Your Employees Is Interviewing For Another Job

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A few weeks back, HR master Kris Dunn, fellow TLNT blogger Laurie Ruettimann and I did a series for SumTotal called HR Hangouts.

The concept was to get on a Google Hangout for 20 minutes and just talk about real HR things — basically, water cooler conversations for the modern world.

It was quick and easy. You can see the actual video below (it’s about 20 minutes, if you have the time).

Signs employees are looking to leave

We called this one the FOT Turnover Predictor, which was basically what things do your employees begin to do to start showing you they are getting ready to turnover?

We all had different ones, but here are some of my favorites:

  1. Parking lot calls — It doesn’t haven’t to be the parking lot, it can be a back stairwell, out a back door at the picnic table behind your building, etc. Basically, when an employee feels the “need” to start taking calls away from their normal work area, for privacy, something is going on! Usually, that something, is another job. As an HR Pro I always address it right away, because it’s obvious and everyone sees you in your car for an hour talking during your lunch, when you usually sit at your desk and check Facebook.
  2. Banana Republic wardrobe update“Hey look, Tim has skinny jeans!” Wait, isn’t Tim like 40? No, Tim isn’t going through a mid-life crisis; Tim is interviewing! Work clothes are like a uniform. No one really wants to spend a ton of money on a uniform, so you tend to wear work clothes way too long. When you see your employees doing some major updates to their “uniform” there’s a reason – newly divorced, having an affair, interviewing.
  3. Crisp white button-down shirt, dark dress slacks — No one normally wears just black or navy dress slacks and a white, freshly pressed dress shirt to work. Want to know why? It’s a jacket and tie away from being an interview suit! The only other time you see this is when someone will be attending a funeral that day. So, finding out who is interviewing is usually pretty easy.
  4. Professional LinkedIn updated headshot — You know we all get emails when our LinkedIn connections do updates to their profile, right? “Oh look, Tim just updated his LinkedIn profile photo from the one of him at the tailgate party to one of him with a jacket and tie that looks like it was taken in his dining room with a sheet hanging on the wall…”
  5. New, more professional personal email address — Hey everyone! I just wanted to inform you I will now be using timsackett@gmail instead of RecruitingGod@gmail. Thanks!

Yes, everyone in the office knows

It’s funny how employees really think they are being covert about looking for a new job, when usually everyone in the office knows.

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Our worlds are so interconnected now that it becomes really difficult to try to go through a traditional job search, when you already have a job, without anyone knowing you’re doing it.

This was originally published on The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


13 Comments on “How to Tell If One of Your Employees Is Interviewing For Another Job

  1. Wow… proactive employees or people waking up from complacency should constantly do all the things you state above. So what?

  2. I want to know how you address parking lot calls on lunch? Isn’t that MY personal time that I do not have to explain to my employer?

    1. I was thinking the exact same thing. I also think the HR guy should get fired since HR is basically worthless and taking money away from the people who actually work for a living.

    2. I don’t think he was saying to address it but to be aware that it could be a sign that someone is thinking about leaving.

      1. Except that he does say that, just exactly.
        ” As an HR Pro I always address it right away…”

        1. I don’t know what he meant but I would think when he talks about addressing it he means the possible interviewing and not the phone calls themselves. Obviously I could be wrong though.

          1. LOL so then what you are saying is that when you see an employee take a private personal call on their lunch outside of the building you feel it is acceptable to question them as to whether they are interviewing? Ha! I would then most certainly leave. What I do on my time- is just that, “my time”. If an employer can’t respect that because they are so insecure that I’m leaving, then the issue lies within the employer’s insecurities, and I deserve a better work environment.

          2. You can think it’s your time but everything at work is a show and you should expect people to notice if your behavior changes

  3. I don’t think the author was suggesting you address parking lot calls. It’s a change in behavior that can be an indication that something is up with your employee (maybe job hunting related, maybe not).
    For example, someone who normally works through lunch eating at his/her desk and suddenly start going out to their car most of the time), it’s a data point.
    Leaders of high impact/potential employees should be regularly checking in with him/her making sure things are going well, trying to keep the individual motivated and engaged.

    1. That’s the exact point I was trying to make. It’s not these one items taken individually but a pattern of behavior that matters.

  4. Your comment about work clothes being a uniform may hold true for some, and possibly more for men. When the women in my office show up wearing nice new clothes or sporting a new haircut, know what we say? “Hey, you look nice today! New shirt/hair/shoes?”

    You basically spy on and address an employee’s private phone calls made on non-work time in non-work areas? Pretty glad I don’t work there. You have NO idea if they are dealing with health issues, personal crises, family troubles, have a new significant other, are having an affair, or working part time as a psychic hotline. And it’s none of your business. If people report the same to me (“So and so was in his car all through lunch on the phone!”) I tell them to stop stalking people and tend to their own issues.

    I prefer to keep an eye on who might be looking to leave by actually knowing what’s up with people’s jobs, and how they’re feeling, and if they’re engaged and happy or not. It’s not complicated if they trust you, and if you actually care. It is really unusual for me to be surprised by a resignation. Sometimes people let me know they are actively seeking a new job. If they’re good and I want them to stay, we work on that. If not, we work together to make the transition smoother for everyone. I’m not a jailer, and I don’t own them. I expect them to do their best while they’re here, and if they leave for their own best interests, I wish them well.

  5. Which is why I ALWAYS wear pressed shirts to work and ALWAYS keep my LinkedIn page up to date. Just sayin.

  6. If your employee is looking for a job they are already halfway out the door and there is going to be very little you can do to retain them. Rarely does someone just decide one day for no reason to start looking for a job.
    Job searches are like having a second job, they take time and work and let’s face it, no one wants to work two jobs. Employees decide to start looking for another job for a number of reasons but they all boil down to one thing, they are not getting what they need.
    Instead of focusing on whether or not your employee is looking for another job, focus on what you can do to prevent it. Talk to them and listen, pay attention.

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