The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Truth About Career Transition Landing Data

Greg Simpson Article

Isn’t it time we had an honest conversation about landing data?

Landing data - the measurement of the period between termination and securing a new job – is critical information in determining the length of a career transition program and the features that should be included in that program.

And yet, in recent years, landing data has become so much more than that. For many organizations, it has become the central focus for procurement. Career Transition firms have responded by making landing data claims the central focus of their marketing and sales efforts.

The result was pretty predictable: Both established firms and newcomers are now embroiled in a race to the bottom, trying to outbid each other on how little time it takes to find someone a new job.

However, the length of time it takes to find someone a new job is only one of many metrics to assess the overall value of a career transition program. And in some instances, it is not the most important metric.

The good, the bad, and the ugly truth of landing data

There are two fundamental truths about landing data.

First, Career Transition is absolutely effective in shortening the time it takes for someone to find a job. Long-term data is clear on this point: Individuals who are thrown out into the job market on their own without support will take longer – often months longer – to find their next job. Career transition helps individuals deal with the shock of losing a job, and focus on the best practices that will help them find their next opportunity.

However, there is a second fundamental truth: Although Landing Data is used by many firms to describe the effectiveness of their programs, not all landing data is created equal. In fact, in many instances it is nearly impossible to collect clean, reliable data.

One of the biggest blind spots in landing data is created by the trend towards shorter transition programs. The shorter the program, the higher the number of candidates that are unable to find a job. Many career transition firms leave these unsuccessful candidates out when they calculate “average” time to landing. This flaw is exacerbated by the fact that once the program is over, neither the career transition firm nor the employer is able to track the candidates to find out how long it actually took for them to find another job.

In other instances, candidates that do find new jobs are reluctant to share this information with either their former employer or the career transition firm. This can be a reflection of the estrangement that occurs between an individual employee and the organization that let them go; in other instances, it may be to avoid severance claw back provisions that kick in once someone has secured a new position.

When considering landing data to assess the effectiveness of a career transition firm, be sure to ask what data is included in the numbers, and what is left out.  This will help you spot over-inflated promises.

Landing Time: What variables determine the length of time it takes to find someone a job?

When someone tells you that “on average” they can find someone a new job in eight weeks, what does that really mean?

Experienced career transition providers will tell you that landing time depends on a number of variables.

  • Level of employee affected: The more senior the individual, the longer the landing time. This is due to a number of factors including fewer jobs at the more senior level. However, it’s also a reflection of the fact that more senior-level employees have the financial means to be pickier about their next gig. They simply do not need to seize upon the first job opportunity that comes along.
  • Industry: Employment levels and opportunities fluctuate wildly between industries and even sectors within those industries. Based on current market conditions, someone in the financial services industry will have a better shot at finding another job than someone working in the petroleum industry. It is simply impossible to express a global average time to landing without taking into account the current state of an industry.
  • Job function: It may seem overly obvious, but the exact job function held by an employee in transition is important for determining landing time. Highly specialized, technical jobs could be hard to come by; while someone with a broad range of skills and job experience could be easy to place. By the same token, depending on marketplace conditions and timing, someone in a highly-specialized role could land quickly. Function and timing have a dramatic impact on landing time.
  • Desired next role:  It is typically easier to find a job in one’s own industry and function than to make a career change. Transition is often a time when individuals decide to try something new and that invariably impacts their time to land. Also, alternative paths like independent consulting, retirement, or going back to school are often harder to track as they don’t result in a specific job.
  • Geographic location: If someone is laid off in a geographic market that has been hard hit by economic conditions, it will obviously take longer to find a new job. Particularly if staying in that same location is a priority. Average landing times do a poor job of reflecting geographic constraints.
  • Candidate skill set and reputation:  All candidates are not created equal and in today’s economy, downsizing and other events that trigger transition happen regardless of individuals’ experience, personal network, and reputation. And yet we know that higher skilled, better networked individuals with a great reputation land quicker. 

All these variables impact landing time and as such, “average landing time” stats need to be interpreted with care.

Moving Beyond Landing Data – The Qualitative Value of Career Transition Support

Career transition, when done properly, provides an organization with value on multiple fronts.

Employees in transition who are treated fairly and given all the support and tools they need to find other jobs often speak well of their former employers. This ensures that existing talent, and talent that has yet to be recruited, only hear good things about the way an organization treats its people. Career transition services can ensure that an organization’s brand is protected.

Effective career transition can also ensure that remaining employees can function without fear or anxiety. CT that is designed around the specific variables at play – level, function, location, career goals, and industry –will provide great comfort to those who are left to continue doing the good work of the organization.

However, the opposite is also true. Failing to provide CT support, or providing a one-size-fits-all program focused on promises of an extremely short landing time, will leave many candidates unhappy. And that has the potential to inflict profound damage on an employer's brand.

In Conclusion

The hard reality in the career transition world is that basic landing data is not always as meaningful as some firms would have you believe.

Landing data is an important metric of the career transition industry. It can help guide the type and length of program needed for any specific group of employees.

However, if landing data is over-hyped and over-leveraged as a deliverable, it will only serve to point organizations in the wrong direction and, ultimately, waste their valuable resources.

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