In a post earlier this year I claimed that too many people change jobs for all the wrong reasons. Most often it’s for the stuff at the bottom of the “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Hiring Needs” graphic above, rather than the stuff at the top. Unless they’re (very) lucky, the result is always disappointment, dissatisfaction and regret.

The problem is that these people fell into the trap of accepting new jobs based on the size of the offer package, not the size of the career opportunity. When this is done more than once or twice it leads to Job-Hopping Syndrome. This is the surest way to put a premature lid on a person’s career growth.

Sadly, in the rush to fill jobs, the problem is accelerating. But it can be avoided with these simple ideas.

To Hire People for the Long-term Ask This Question BEFORE Making an Offer

Whether you’re a recruiter, hiring manager or an HR leader advising candidates, you should ask this question BEFORE you make anyone an offer:

Forget the compensation for a minute. Do you really want this job and, if so, why?

While most candidates will say yes, their reasons why will typically be vague regarding the work itself, the hiring manager’s style and the long-term growth opportunities. In order to ensure a successful long-term hire, it’s important for the hiring manager to fill these gaps by describing the projects the person will be working on, why they’re important to the company’s business plans and how this work will put the person on a faster career trajectory.

Describing the job in this fashion will not only increase the likelihood the person will be successful in the role but will also increase the likelihood the person will accept your offer. This is true even if the offer isn’t the biggest compensation-wise.

As long as the offer is competitive, you’ll be able to position your job as the best career move in comparison to others the candidate is considering by starting with this question:

On a 1-10 scale how does our job compare to everything else you’re considering? 

If your spot isn’t the job of choice ask why not, and then show your candidate the chart below and say something like this:

It seems to me you’re making a long-term career decision largely based on short-term information. 

In most cases when candidates compare job opportunities, they have limited insight regarding the work itself, the types of projects they’ll be working on, the company culture and the leadership qualities of the hiring manager. As a result, they typically accept the offer with the biggest start date package rather than the one that offers the best career move. Without this “Year One and Beyond” information clearly understood before accepting an offer, success and satisfaction is problematic.

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The importance of this cannot be understated. For example, in our interviewing courses we’ve asked thousands of attendees to describe the jobs they’ve held in the past that are the most satisfying and why. It’s rarely the money. Most often it’s the work itself, the importance of the work or the people involved. (How did you answer the question?)

It’s clear that the personal drivers of motivation and on-the-job satisfaction have little to do with the starting date offer package. Given this, it’s important for candidates not to get seduced by the size of the “Day One” criteria when comparing offers.

Preventing this short-term career-limiting decision-making is hard to do without serious intervention. Having candidates complete this table with specific information will be critical step in helping them make a well-informed decision.

Don’t Make Long-term Career Decisions Using Short-term Information

For anyone thinking of changing jobs making the right career choice starts by asking yourself this question, “Do I really want this job if it weren’t for what I’m getting on the start date?” Getting an honest answer requires you gather all of the information shown in the table. If the recruiter, hiring manager or HR person can’t or won’t provide the information, don’t take the offer, regardless of how big it seems.

It isn’t.