Knowing More About Why Candidates Take Jobs Can Help You Keep Them From Leaving Them!

It’s ironic but true that the very factors that drive an employee’s decision to “leave a job”  are almost always the same factors that earlier supported  their decision to “take  a job”.

Lou Adler, one of our favorite  candidate recruiting and selection gurus,  talks about “acceptance factors” and “leaving factors”  and sees them going hand in hand.  .

For us, helping our clients get clear about “acceptances” – who they should be hiring and why – goes a long way to avoiding down the road “leavings”.   

And we get to learn more about this simple truth every day!  Helping our employer clients find and hire the “right” employees requires us to get to know the candidates we represent at a pretty deep level.   Our recruiters hear countless “acceptance” and “leaving” stories each day.

Here’s what we know about accept and leave decisions that might help you avoid costly turnover:

The “boss” makes a big difference!    

No question that a highly engaged, charismatic hiring manager can influence a candidate’s decision to take a job.  “I really liked them.  I can see myself working for them.”

If  that same hiring manager turns out to be a boss who is too busy to spend time with their employees, micro manages their work to the point where nothing gets done, or in any number of ways is not the “right fit” for how the employee wants to be managed, that disconnect can be an key issue in an employee’s decision to leave.

To avoid an unwanted turnover, pay attention to what might end up being the “wrong fit” between the employee and their boss.  When hiring, make sure you consider your own management style or if your are a recruiter, the management style of the employee’s future boss.  Find out what is important to each candidate about who they work for and why.  If you uncover that what a candidate tells you is a problem for them in how they are managed, and what you know about how they will actually be managed once hired, take a second look!

“Work Content” RULES!

For most job candidates, the work they do and the results they are asked to deliver,  makes a BIG DIFFERENCE in their decision to take a job.   Even if your culture is A+, hire someone with a mistaken understanding of the actual work content or isn’t clear on what they are expected to deliver, and expect early term turnover.  Disconnects in what an employee wants to do and what they actually do once hired are amongst the primary causes of early term turnover.   

We recommend that a first step in any hiring process is to get very clear on what the employee will be doing once hired and expectations that their manager and others have regarding their performance.   If you know, for example, what results the employee is expected to deliver in their first 3, 6 and 12 months of employment,  your interview can focus on  finding out what previous work experiences the candidate can bring to the table when accomplishing these results for you.

When it comes to finding the employee who is that “right fit” interviewers and hiring managers need to keep in mind two important truths:  

Only a well thought out and executed interviewing process can ferret out these differences!

“Opportunity” is in the Eyes of the Beholder!   

Nost candidates accept jobs because they believe they will get some benefit or opportunity from taking the job.  The opportunity could be a promotion, access to valued mentorship or or an opportunity to tackle a unique challenge.  It could even be a chance to apply old skills in a new way.

All these opportunities are potential  “selling points” in a tight labor market,  but not all opportunities are of equal value to all potential candidates.    The candidate who is the “right fit” is a candidate whose motivations for taking a job line up with the opportunities the job actually has to offer.    

This is a particularly important point when considering passive candidate who are already working and likely wouldn’t consider a job change unless what is offered is “more or better” than what they already have.   And if,  after they are hired, an employee perceives a different set of “opportunities” than what has been described in the hiring process, or those “opportunities” change,  the very “acceptance factors” that drove them to take the job in the first place, now turn into “leaving factors” driving them to look elsewhere.

Yes, it’s that simple.   And we see it all the time with employers who hire candidates with promises of opportunity they either can’t or won’t deliver.

When hiring, make sure you characterize opportunities for growth realistically.  Over promising just to attract a higher caliber candidate or to get a particular candidate to say yes is not a winning strategy.

And keep in mind that not all jobs need super stars.  Figuratively speaking,  some jobs are better staffed by hard working, long lasting Clysdales,  not fast moving, hot blooded Thoroughbreds. When you create your “preferred candidate profile” make sure you spend some time thinking about WHY a candidate might be motivated to accept this job/to do this work/to produce these results!  

Pay. Benefits. Location….

….are the table stakes you must have just to get in the game.  Move your company to a new location, change a pay or benefit plan that impacts all or some employees negatively, and expect some “acceptance” factors to turn into “leaving factors’ quickly.

Also keep in mind that while an employee might take a new job for an increase in pay, to enjoy your unlimited PTO benefit, or to work closer to home,  employee engagement data shows that they be only marginally engaged with their work unless  other “acceptance” factors are in play.

Talk Isn’t Walk.

While a company’s lofty mission,  glowing descriptions of culture (with pictures to match) can be powerful “acceptance factors”, they can quickly become “leaving factors” if the company or team doesn’t walk its talk.  An employee disillusioned by the realities of their actual work experience,  is an employee ripe for a recruiting call from a company who does a better job of walking its talk.

The solution – when hiring a new employee get real in how you describe the typical employee experience post hire.   “We’re working on speeding up our decision making processes and we’d love your help” is far more compelling than a well-articulated vision of “intent” (ex. “we make decisions quickly) that isn’t rooted in reality.

One last take away…

At the end of each interview, ask a candidate two questions

“What prompted you to apply for this job?”    

“What do you see as the primary benefit to you for accepting  our offer?”     


Getting ready to hire?   We’d love to help you get real about the type of candidate who will best “fit” your work environment – making sure all those “acceptance” factors for your candidates don’t become “leaving factors” after the candidate is hired.

Preferred candidate profiling services are part of all PACE recruiting packages!   For a personalized discussion of how we can help you with your next hiring project, contact our Partner Services and Solutions team at 425-637-3312.


PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest  employers find and hire the right employees for over 40 years.

A  3 time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation , PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual surveys of customer satisfaction.

PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditions, direct hire professional recruiting services, Employer of Record (payroll) services, and a large menu of candidate assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte.

To learn more about how partnering with PACE will make a difference to how you find and hire employees,  contact us at 425-637-3312 or e mail our Partner Service and Solutions  team  at partnerservices@pacestaffing.com.


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