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During a recent search I conducted for a client as a “headhunter” the candidate we found had posted their resume on a job board four years ago and is was still up when we contacted them recently.  My curiosity as an employee retention expert and employee retention trainer prompted me to ask what his original motivations for posting the resume were in light of the fact that he had not changed jobs.  They replied that at the time they posted their resume there was some “uncertainty” at work and they had done it as a “defensive” move just in case things deteriorated further.  I use this person’s exact words because it was not outright “fear” that drove them to post and it was not an aggressive job search.  None-the less, the resume was posted and was still posted four years later. 

As it happened, when we approached the person recently, they had just had some things occur at work that made our opportunity very attractive and our client ultimately hired them.  They were not bad things, but it made our offer very attractive.  The key to our success, aside from timing, was that as a result of a “defensive” posting of their resume we would probably not have found that person.  They would have been the needle in the haystack that would have been almost impossible to find.

As an employee retention speaker, I always talk about fear being a driving factor in people openly looking for work or posting their resume on a job board.  This incident really brought into focus that organizations need to keep in mind the implications of their actions that can drive “defensive” moves when developing their employee retention strategies because it does not need to be as drastic of an emotion as “fear” that will get employees to go from not seeking to being a more active job seeker.  Employees will act in “defensive” ways to protect themselves as well when they are truly afraid because of uncertainty about the future of the organization.