QUICK QUITS: When You Recruit Hard But Onboard Soft

Kris Dunn candidate experience, Managing People, Onboarding, Recruiting, Retention, Talent Acquisition

I’m writing this post in the aftermath of COVID-19, as masks come off, people think about shaking hands again, and companies ramp up hiring post-recession. But this post is relevant anytime your company is coming off a long hiring freeze or downturn and starts hiring at warp speed again in a frothy economy. So, see you again in 2027, I guess.

History has a way of repeating itself.

So you’re back at it. Hundreds, if not thousands, of open jobs. You’re hiring in a very competitive environment where candidates have options. It took you a couple of months, but the hiring machine is tuned up and humming at an efficient pace.

There’s just this one little hitch. You’re hiring so much that you forgot about retention with a little “r,” not a big “R.” As a result of that miss, you’re getting what I’ll call “Quick Quits.”

When it comes to new hire retention with a big “R,” it’s all about onboarding. Big “R” retention is all about your training program, maybe a buddy system, and perhaps some formalized check-ins designed to make sure things are going well for the new hire.

But what about little “r” retention of your new hires? Well, that’s more complicated, and where s**t generally goes wrong.

If you’re good at what you do from a recruiting perspective, you’re actively selling not only your company and the position in question but also what each of those entities can do for the candidate’s career. It’s called Value Proposition Selling, and it’s a good thing.

The catch? You’re swamped with recruiting business. Your hiring managers are swamped with operational business. Your hiring managers are overwhelmed, and that means they’re going to be forgetful of the unique circumstances, opportunity, and promise of career development that brought each candidate to sign the offer letter and bet their career on your company.

Which brings us to the topic of a “Quick Quit.” Let’s go ahead and define that now, shall we?

Quick Quit (kwik kwit) – 1. When a candidate/new hire’s expectation of what a job will be doesn’t match the reality, and they make a decision in the first 30 days on the job to jump to another offer on the table because of the perceived disconnect. 2. When a new hire says, “Peace out, #*##*#*s” 3. When a hiring manager blames recruiting/HR for a new hire terming, but they haven’t talked to the new hire in a week, #whathappned?

We’ve all had quick quits. They suck. But when you’re ramping up hiring in a big way, quick quits are a primary threat to the effectiveness of your recruiting machine.

What can you do to reduce the number of quick quits? I give you the following four pieces of gold.

1–Call and message your new hires as a recruiter/HR pro all the time. If you care (and you say you do), you’re going to have to reach out to the people you helped bring into the company and see what’s going on, how they are feeling, and more. Call, text, get in there, and get active.

2–Have quick sessions with departments you’re recruiting for and do a new hire review. The hiring managers think you want their opinions on performance of new hires, and I guess you do. But more important on these calls is you digging for what the managers in question have your new hires working on. Is the experienced pro you just hired being buddied up and backing up a plebe, simply because of order of hire? That’s a potential quick quit. Is the new hire working on something transactional when they long ago moved past that in their career? Quick Quit! DANGER.

3–Run some skip level calls. If you run steps #1 and #2, you’ll have a sense for who might be at risk. That’s when you ask the departmental head above the normal hiring manager level to have some quick fifteen minute calls with select new hires to check in and see how things are going. The intent of these calls should be to ask open-ended questions and listen. You’ll probably have to give them the script. It’s OK, it’s worth everyone’s time to prevent quick quits.

4–Gather data from all the above, and adjust your pitch to candidates when describing how the first couple of months are going to feel. You can only control so much. You should still Value Proposition sell your candidates, but if there are things you can’t control, get in front of them during the offer stage. Don’t be a victim, get in there and tell them a bit of patience is going to be required.

Quick Quits suck, but they are always in play when recruiting is running hot and candidates have options. Play offense related to how new hires are feeling about what they’ve walked into, and you’ll have a shot to head them off at the pass.

You might want to stagger those hiring bonuses to the 90-day mark as well. Just saying.