Is the Resume Tsunami All Wet? Or Just Gathering Momentum?

Is the Resume Tsunami All Wet? Or Just Gathering Momentum?Posted by Robin Erickson on October 23, 2012

Back in the fall of 2009, Deloitte released a special report on talent retention based on a survey of more than 350 employees around the world. At that time, nearly half (49 percent) of the surveyed employees were considering leaving their jobs—30 percent were already actively looking for new employment. The indications pointed to a pending “resume tsunami” once the recession ended and improving prospects bolstered employee confidence and desire to test the employment waters. These findings jibed with Deloitte research that found when unemployment goes up, employees stay put and when unemployment drops, employees look to move on.

Now, three years later, a new survey seems to indicate the resume tsunami is more of a “resume riptide.” In Talent 2020: Surveying the talent paradox from the employee perspective, 80 percent of employees reported they plan to stay put over the next year. This is a significant 45-point swing from last year, when only 35 percent planned to stay with their employers (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Are you staying or going?

Workforce analytics journey

Sources: Managing talent in a turbulent economy: Keeping your team intact, September 2009, Deloitte Consulting LLP; Talent Edge 2020: Building the recovery together, April 2011, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

So, do these findings mean predictions of a resume tsunami were all wet? Not necessarily. No one really knows if the recession is over and many fear a double-dip. Also, the resume tsunami is predicated on unemployment going down, which hasn’t happened. As we dug deeper into the survey data related to the 45-point swing, we also found another telling reason why employees may not be inclined to change jobs in the next year: 46 percent had already made a change in the last year. Some had moved to new companies (9 percent), an additional 22 percent had received a promotion and 15 percent had changed roles with their current employer.

Interestingly, while only 20 percent of respondents are on the hunt for new employment, 31 percent report dissatisfaction with their jobs—that leaves 11 percent of dissatisfied respondents on the job and planning to stay there…at least for now. When unemployment numbers improve, who knows what may happen? The resume tsunami may simply be as stalled as the lackluster economy, only to surge when conditions improve.

The point is, the numbers may seem favorable, but caution is still in order. The talent paradox is alive and well, meaning companies still face shortages in critical areas where they most need to attract and keep highly skilled talent. In a talent-hungry environment like this one, employers can’t afford to be complacent. Taking steps to retain employees with critical skills should continue to be a part of talent management strategies.

Robin Erickson Robin Erickson is a specialist leader in Talent Strategies with Deloitte Consulting LLP. She has a Ph.D. in Organizational Communication from Northwestern University, where her focus was on the retention of downsizing survivors.

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