March 2020
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TD Magazine

Word Wiz: Career Nomads

Monday, March 2, 2020

In the past, employees typically stayed at their jobs for years or, for some, their entire career. Now, the work world is seeing career nomads, high-performing individuals who change jobs, companies, or their careers more often than others. And while different career experiences could make candidates attractive, too much change could cost organizations.

According to 2018 US Bureau of Labor Statistics data, 4.2 years is the median tenure for employees; 22 percent have a year or less. In January 2018, tenure was higher among older workers, with those ages 55–64 at a median tenure of 10 years compared to a median tenure of 2.8 years for those age 25–34.


Korn Ferry recently surveyed 850 executives and hiring professionals about career nomads, and slightly more than half noted that candidates with varied experience are more qualified. Still, according to the study, the cost of replacing talent—including recruiting, onboarding, and training—can add up to between half and three-quarters of the annual salary for that role. Further, 44 percent of Fortune 500 companies saw an average $58 million per-year cost because of employees changing jobs, while 56 percent saw a $46 million average net benefit.

Korn Ferry offers recommendations to help companies retain career nomads, among them providing employees with work-life balance and increasing their well-being as well as presenting strong options for them to develop their careers.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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