Increase employee retention by hiring candidates with career mentality, not job mentality

by Jobbatical December 11, 2017

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The difference between job mentality vs career mentality could mean the difference between a team that does the bare minimum and one that truly performs. If you want to increase employee retention at your company, aim for the candidates with career mentality. This article will teach you how to identify who you want on your team.

Career-focused employees are more productive and create more strategic networks, because of their priorities. When a company focuses on career development instead of simply execution, ie. checking a task off the list, it also helps their employee retention and succession planning.

So how can you ensure you hire career-driven individuals? Here are some differences between job mentality and career mentality, so you can analyze which your job candidates have.

Here’s the difference between job mentality vs career mentality

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Planning for short-term vs long-term

When someone has career mentality, they make long-term plans with your company. They aren’t simply looking at the tasks that need to be done immediately, like calling a customer or writing a blog post. Instead, they plan for company growth and think actively about how they can contribute to the company’s strategic growth.

Concerned with what they get vs what they learn

Job-oriented individuals aren’t as insightful. They take jobs based on factors like earnings. While salary and benefits are important (and you should never underpay your team or you risk losing them), career-oriented professionals understand a job isn’t just about what you “get.”

Career-focused employees value education, experience, and relationships. They want to improve their skills and learn more about the company and industry. To hire career-oriented employees, look the candidates who weigh what they will “get” with what they will “learn” before making their decision.

Wants to work with similar people vs wants to work with smarter people

When someone is thinking about a job, they tend to think about what will be most comfortable for them. People want to work with others who are similar and “agreeable.” However, you want the candidates who think about what advances a career, and acknowledges that not everything will be easy if they want to grow.

Instead of hiring a team that’s all about culture fit, build team that focuses on culture add. Similar personalities limit the scope and opportunity of the business. You want to find individuals who always strive to work with people smarter than them, understanding that those people can teach valuable skills, even if they aren’t similar in personality, experience, or background.

Unconnected to the job vs aligned with company vision

Job mentality focuses on running through a series of tasks that can be marked as “complete” regardless of value. Career mentality focuses on working with a brand employees believe in, so everything someone does to further the company also contributes to personal vision. Look for employees who demonstrate an emotional attachment to the brand and the company mission.

Looking for a new job vs looking for a promotion

One way to determine if someone has career-mentality or job-mentality is to determine whether they are looking for a new job (whether or not it will help them grow), or looking to take the next step in their career (whether or not with your company)?

If an employee is are looking for another job and nothing more, they are likely to try and go wide to gain more skills. Instead, you should look for a T-shaped professional. If the prospective hire is looking to advance their career they will likely be working on leadership and other soft skills valuable for professional development.

Excuses vs accountability

Someone working for a job will make excuses when something goes wrong. An employee working on their career, on the other hand, will take accountability and look for solutions. Look for the employees who are accountable for their actions, especially when it’s tough, as this demonstrates responsibility and an understanding of what it takes to improve professionally.

Work with talent you never thought you could get a hold of

How to foster a career-mentality in your employees and improve employee retention

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If you’ve discovered that your candidates or team members are more job-oriented than career-oriented, never fear. There are ways to help employees develop a different mindset and reframe their contribution to your company.

Strategy and planning will help each employee see how their roles and efforts further a common goal. Make an outline of what will be achieved, create a timeline of expectations, explain what success will look like, and ask for feedback and recommendations to this plan to create accountability.

For an example of how this works, look to the Brooklyn Free School. The children of the school meet weekly to discuss rules, policies, and challenges. Everyone votes in a democratic-style forum, and students’ votes have equal value to staff and faculty.

The model encourages individuals to take ownership of their roles and responsibilities, and creates a system where each person can work to further their careers and continue growing.


This post is a part of Jobbatical’s hiring blog, designed to help hiring managers get their teams to the next level. To get our new articles straight to your inbox, please sign up for our hiring newsletter.

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