When do candidates get itchy feet?

Looking for a candidate willing to move roles? Try speaking to them at month 12, 24 or 36.

I’ve been thinking. For the last little while I was wondering about why LinkedIn sends birthday and anniversary messages? I’m sure it’s an effective way to start a conversation with people and drive a bit of interaction on the site, and keeps people thinking about LinkedIn, but is that the whole story? The people at LinkedIn are pretty damn smart, and they have some amazing data, so I just couldn’t square that away as the actual answer.

How LinkedIn treated me on my anniversary

Fortunately, I recently had my “work anniversary” so I have just been through this process, and it helped me come to my conclusions. Here’s a quick look at my inbox from then:

Lots of messages from people wishing me “Happy Anniversary” which is all very nice. But a funny thing happened.
 It’s been 2 years since I left my secure job at Deutsche Bank and started my own company. I’m never going to regret it, but just for a second, with the added pressure of all these people looking at me from LinkedIn, I thought: “man…I’m going to look like a bit of an idiot if this doesn’t work out…”

So there I was, considering my place in the universe, thinking about how people will judge me, and I wondered if other people feel the same on their anniversaries. Do they experience the same existential funk…then go for a walk and get back to work? Then I read this email from LinkedIn from the same day:

Well…that’s interesting isn’t it? I never get these emails normally, but just at the time I was thinking about LinkedIn, they send me a mail saying there are companies out there looking for CTOs (and various other jobs that I might suit).

Wow. That’s either very coincidental or very good data. I say it’s very good data. I believe that people underestimate the power of a good dataset in recruitment. So I did some digging.

What does the data say?

It turns out if you analyse when people leave jobs, it’s very much around anniversaries (and presumably birthdays). Actually the data is quite compelling. One of the things we do at Stitched is take CVs, parse them and then tease out meaning and structure from them, so pretty easily I was able to knock up a chart of how long people stay in jobs, in months.

I used a decent data set (around 30K CVs) and did the analysis in Excel. (Pro tip from my investment banking days: Everything runs on Excel.)

Note the spikes on 12 months, 23/24 months and 36 months?

Why? Well, it’s a bit of a guess, but some reasons probably include events (anniversary, birthdays, relationship changes, etc.) that we consider changes in our overall lives. Work being one of those.

  • Bonuses and rewards are based on year on year performance
  • Contracts are often 1 year long
  • Bad (or very good) performance reviews might cause us to decide to change jobs

My first impression was that this data was skewed by contractors, or by people who describe old jobs (like > 10 years ago) as a year long. You know like “Ministry of Software 1994 to 1999” so I filtered out old jobs and replotted the chart.

Whatever the reason, my guess is that the super smart Product Manager people at LinkedIn send these mails at exactly the time we are considering our next move. Why would they want to do that? Well, I would say that if you measured the response rates to job postings (which I am sure they do) then a smart tactic would be to send openings to the candidates that match not only the skills a company is looking for…but at the time that person is most likely to be looking for a job. If I was a product manager at LinkedIn, this is exactly what I would do. This would also cut down on spamming people randomly every time they matched a certain job profile, so the ones they receive would be less likely to be ignored.

So what implications does this have?


This one is pretty obvious. You’ll have better success getting people to move roles when they are just about to, or have just had their anniversaries. Certainly this is a good time of year to open up a conversation with your excellent passive candidates. PS: You can manage your network of passive candidates in Stitched if you wanted to get the jump on everyone who is just using LinkedIn. Minor little plug there, sorry couldn’t help myself :)


Well….it’s time to take stock isn’t it? Look out for the terrible recruitment sharks at that time of year if you’re happy! If that navel gazing makes you think that it might be time to move on, rest assured that there are plenty of people willing to help you move role.


If you are running an organisation with a large number of employees, obviously the best tactic on keeping them is to produce a consitently great place to work offering them Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose but it wouldn’t hurt to remember how long people have been working for you and remember that day each year and remind them how valued they are at your organisation. Certainly be cognisant that it’s the time your employees are most likely thinking about leaving.


Well thanks for tuning in and seeing what a little bit of data analysis in recruitment looks like. There’s a lot more where that came from — the HR industry has an absolute gold mine of data to be analysed and we are only just seeing what “Data Driven Recruitment” can do for the industry. Workforce Analytics need not require an army of data scientists, huge corporations like LinkedIn or one of The Big 5 consulting companies to produce a report. It can, and should be, a part of every recruitment agency and HR department’s toolset.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Originally published at Stitched.