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realistic career expectations after taking a new position  

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PG
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May 20, 2018 11:04 pm  

We have had a few people leave the company within a year and sometimes already within 6 months after accepting a position. The reason given for leaving is that they have not received the career development they wanted. Our total turnover of staff is very low but I still find this interesting.

What expectations are reasonable to have when you join a new company and how fast should you expect to be able to get for example a promotions?


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Dick Woodward
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May 20, 2018 11:55 pm  

PG:

The path to promotion, etc. is different at every company. Perhaps it would be useful during the later part of the interview process to discuss the candidate's expectations, and also to discuss the kind of career support, performance reviews and the like that they can expect from the company. This is especially true of the people coming into industry from academia, who are often clueless about what life is like in industry and who may therefore have expectations that are not aligned with reality.

Just some thoughts.

Dick


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Dave Jensen
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May 21, 2018 1:41 am  

PG, is it a generational issue perhaps?

My Dad had a heck of a lot longer career perspective than I do. He was with one company for 40 years or so, got the gold watch and so on. For me, if it didn't work out well, I was gone in 4 or 5 years. Younger generations may have an even shorter time horizon (we need some young scientist comments here please! Not trying to stereotype.)

I think a lot of these expectations are set in the employment process and the on-boarding that occurs. Companies need to a structure whereby newcomers are mentored by older, more advanced team members. There, they can learn more about what it takes and how to get there. I've seen what you describe quite often actually.

Mentors should NOT be the supervisor.

Dave

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ATF
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May 21, 2018 4:14 am  

As a younger scientist, I have to say that I don't think any of this likely has to do with a particular employer or "career development" per se. Speaking to others in industry around my age, the fastest way to move up and get salary increases has been to quickly leave a company and jump to a new position. Not a single person is under any illusions that their company/ startup etc. cares about them or wouldn't lay them off tomorrow if it was to their benefit, so unfortunately there isn't much loyalty to any of these companies. Added to that, companies seem to not want to hire or promote much on "potential" as much as current title and the logical conclusion is to move around with increasing responsibilities. Especially with startups too, it just seems to be such a crap shoot that honestly, why wouldn't you jump if somebody offers more money? The "equity" at entry level is a joke most of the time, and all of them just want to work you as hard as they can... no reason to stay with one if somebody else will pay more money.

Sorry if that sounds cynical, but that's the honest feedback I've heard from former post-docs in my group.


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Tony Derten
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May 21, 2018 4:24 pm  

Speaking as somebody who'll be likely moving to the industry very soon, I know that I will not be a lifer. And not just with the company I start with, but with any company, no matter how good of a fit the job may be or how effectively I work there. So I'll be doing my best, work hard and smart, and at the same time will be looking for the next position. Internal promotion would be great, but as we all know it's both unlikely and wouldn't offer same advancement as a position with another company.


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Dave Jensen
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May 21, 2018 6:27 pm  

The last two responses ahead of mine, from ATF and Tony, really point out that there are generational issues at work here. I didn't want to stereotype the situation, but those comments sure resonate with me. This is what I hear from many scientists -- they are a bit too anxious to await the good things that come with one employer. They want to leave as soon as they see an opportunity to move up the ladder, instead of waiting for that ladder in their present organization, Frustrating to the managers, to say the least,

Dave

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DX
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May 21, 2018 7:51 pm  

As a younger scientist, I have to say that I don't think any of this likely has to do with a particular employer or "career development" per se. Speaking to others in industry around my age, the fastest way to move up and get salary increases has been to quickly leave a company and jump to a new position. Not a single person is under any illusions that their company/ startup etc. cares about them or wouldn't lay them off tomorrow if it was to their benefit, so unfortunately there isn't much loyalty to any of these companies. Added to that, companies seem to not want to hire or promote much on "potential" as much as current title and the logical conclusion is to move around with increasing responsibilities. Especially with startups too, it just seems to be such a crap shoot that honestly, why wouldn't you jump if somebody offers more money? The "equity" at entry level is a joke most of the time, and all of them just want to work you as hard as they can... no reason to stay with one if somebody else will pay more money.

Sorry if that sounds cynical, but that's the honest feedback I've heard from former post-docs in my group.

Well not to cynical - that is a reality for most of us and i'll put myself into that bucket. They reality is that most times there is a mis-alignment of an employees time horizon for movement vs. that of the employers. Linked to that and root cause is there is differentiated view of employee readiness vs. that of the employer's view of that employee's readiness. Provided the employee is performing well, i.e. meeting their objectives, if not exceeding, the reality is that employee is being trained, getting experience and well sufficient to eventually port. Not every employer or boss is aware, however i did have a boss once plead with our newly formed team.."please give me at least 2 years before you move on and when you're ready to move on, talk to me before" . That was an awesome boss. Alas i moved on - company was acquired in that time frame.

So i've moved from company to company just as you described - getting the outcomes just as you described, is the norm in the industry. Though some are getting smart, I saw one company put in thier job ad a line item about having to be with you last employer for at least 5 years. I'm curious how many applicants they got.

Going to career expectations, unwritten rule, expect the employee expectation to want to be in thier next position by year 3 or close to that. Provided they are performers (documented) and see themselves as such (they know they're valuable externally).

Best,

DX

N.B. is it generational? it's the times we live in, so as a Gen X'er that's still about 20 years or more from age-defined retirement... well that's our reality, unlike my parents, same employer for 30 years or more. Both of them.


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Tony Derten
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May 21, 2018 8:06 pm  

The last two responses ahead of mine, from ATF and Tony, really point out that there are generational issues at work here. I didn't want to stereotype the situation, but those comments sure resonate with me. This is what I hear from many scientists -- they are a bit too anxious to await the good things that come with one employer. They want to leave as soon as they see an opportunity to move up the ladder, instead of waiting for that ladder in their present organization, Frustrating to the managers, to say the least,

Dave

Dave,

There is certainly a generational component, but probably not in the way you think. It is fair to say that people are entering the job market at much higher age, e.g. mid-late 20's before vs mid-late 30's now. By this time, you really want to be in stable mid-career, in parity with people in other industries. Waiting for internal opportunities to come to you, will only make you a dinosaur you company won't want to keep and others won't want to hire. Or is it not so?

I would love to join a company and stay with one for 20-30 years. But the opportunities are simply not there. Unless companies rethink how they do things and some positive changes happen in academia (far lesser number of grad students and trainees, better training), this will not change. Understandably, people in the job market plan accordingly.


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RSD
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May 22, 2018 1:58 am  

Within an growing company (ie opportunity exists in-house), I've seen two distinct groups of early career scientists who leave for different positions. The first are high performers who leave for a position with greater responsibility and challenge than there were able to get in-house. In short, we failed to develop and retain them like we should have. These people will be true assets wherever they work. The second group are people whose self evaluation is much greater than their performance, and don't often grasp why they haven't been promoted or given greater responsibility yet. These people might get some short term career progression through jumping to a new company, but eventually you have to produce.

I don't know if its generational, but there is absolutely an attitude of entitlement in some people that leads them to move jobs. They believe they should get promoted after 18 months...


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PG
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May 22, 2018 2:26 am  

Although from a Company Point of view we would like people to stay a bit longer I can see an argument for moving to a new position (not necessarily a new Company) after maybe 2-3 years or at least to have a very clear view about what the requirements are to get that new position and when it is realistic to happen.

Having an expectation to get promoted within 6 months seems like overdoing it since most people are still learning the position that they are in after that time. Also as a hiring manager I would hesitate to hire someone who has been in previous positions for less than a year and especially if there are several short positions.

As for keeping people around we have a target to have a staff turnover below 5% within our group of companies. That assumes that people will stay for a rather long time. Clearly to make this happen they will have to be able to get promoted and grow their careers not only within a single Company but also by moving in between companies in the group. To make this happen we also have high targets for internal recruitments for more advanced position and we are workign very actively with career development plans etc.


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Andrew
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May 28, 2018 1:38 am  

Its a millenial thing, this immaturity that causes them to look after 6 months and jump ship for the next best thing because no one has promoted them. I've had one person leave this year over this and another one leave because she couldn't get over the fact that I had to fire one of her friends. Its to the point where my CEO asks me how old a candidate is, which of course I can't ask, but we've sort of soured on this whole generation and their entitled attitude.

I will always ask why people left positions and if I see multiple jobs in a short time, I reject them for being an unstable employee. You may think its just one job, then you get laid off at the next one and have to take something quick that doesn't work out. Now you have a resume problem before you're 30.

I'm going to be splitting up the entry level technical level into 3 levels so we can promote people after a year as well as put 1 yr anniversary signing bonuses in offer letters.


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Dave Jensen
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May 28, 2018 6:32 am  

Thanks Andrew -- great post, and a viable suggestion in your last line,

Dave Jensen, Moderator

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DX
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May 28, 2018 10:19 am  

Hi Andrew,

6 months? what sector? Sounds like there's two that are tango-ing here. The employee that leaves, and the next employer that hire's them with only 6 months tenure.

The only sector that i'm aware where that could happen where i have a touchpoint is on the 3rd party vendor side - and geography wise, China - a big issue there underlying the myth of lower salaried employees (not true).

Your one year anniversary rentention bonus, is interesting, but what happens 1 month after that bonus pay out? To me, compensation in the form of rention, early in career is not best option - i don't think it works rather its training and development plan in place with a discussion about what needs to be acheived before a promotion.

Is your sector a high-turn over sector? My recommendation is to rather turn the entry position into a contract position - 6 months. Take that bonus and make the monthly salary a tiny bit higher - then you have a negotiating point 4 or 5 months in - cut or keep or renew the contract another 6 months, then an only then move to permanent.

Risk mitigate by keeping a pool of applicants, at some point, you'll find someone hungry and ambition enough to want to stick for a longer period...early in career use development and training as rention. Let the people who want compensation go...cause they'll go anyways.

Best

DX


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Andrew
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May 28, 2018 3:28 pm  

Its contract analytical services, so all you need to know is how to work in a lab. We give people their first jobs and train them so they can do whatever they want in 3 years. There is quite a bit of training so its 3 months before they are really productive. I have no problem with 2-3 years, but 6 months is a big investment in recruiting and training. I haven't wanted to hire temps as I believe the pool of talent is weaker and its really not my intention to churn and burn employees.


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DX
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May 29, 2018 8:32 am  

Its contract analytical services, so all you need to know is how to work in a lab. We give people their first jobs and train them so they can do whatever they want in 3 years. There is quite a bit of training so its 3 months before they are really productive. I have no problem with 2-3 years, but 6 months is a big investment in recruiting and training. I haven't wanted to hire temps as I believe the pool of talent is weaker and its really not my intention to churn and burn employees.

Hi Andrew,

So the notion is not to hire temps. Rather it’s a contract to permanent process.

There is a lot of this in certain functions in my sector. The person is hired as a contractor say for 6 months, then provided certain milestones are met they can transition to a permanent role. You can have differentiated titles but at least you allow a permanent role to be a carrot. In my area there is plenty of good talent who do take these contracts roles as it’s more of an employer’s market. The upside it’s a test and try period ahead of a probation period that is linked to a permanent role. Perhaps or sectors and markets are different but an idea you can look at to mitigate turn over if that’s a problem in your sector.

Another approach you can do try to identify the key reason folks are leaving and see where you can be more competitive. A lot it’s not about compensation - I was it one company when I first started the industry and salaries were about 20 percent less than market value - but the company had very little turnover due to great company culture as a first and other fringe benefits to include continued training and development - folks were in different roles say every 3 years. Just a fun place to work with a close nit group of folks - the likes I have not seen again in any other pharma company i’ve been in.

Good luck!

Dx


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