“I want more crumbs. Here’s my notice.”

Not long ago an interviewee had the stones to ask me about some recent “defections” from the agency. He wanted to know if “rats were jumping ship.” I told him the truth: that some people had quit but, to a man, they’d cited personal reasons for leaving, most involving geography.

With all due respect son give me a break. According to your resume you’ve worked at four shops in as many years. Were you jumping ships every time you left one of them? Were you the rat? Seems inappropriate, if not hypocritical, for you to be worrying about attrition given you’re already an expert at it. I did not say these things to the man but part of me wishes I had. For the record, he’d only occupied his present job a matter of months. But here he was, looking for a new one.

Another thing I could have told him was the only reason he was in my office at all was because those other folks had quit. If they were still here he would not be. When one door closes another opens. Surely, the man knew as much. After all, he’d already opened and closed his share.

Back in the day, I could understand an interviewee worrying about ‘sinking ships.’ Once upon a time folks got in a company and stayed there, presumably moving up the ladder. A raft of voluntary departures might indeed be indicative of a sinking ship.

Not anymore. On the contrary, we constantly are told that these days, in this business, the old rules just don’t apply. Catch as catch can. What have you done for me lately? We’re operating in Internet time! Okay. Fine. But shouldn’t that apply to old ideas about job security as well? If you’re only in a job until something else comes along, then maybe you’re not allowed to ask those questions. Your actions belie the very concern you are fronting.

Whether I like it or not, commitment to an employer is old-fashioned. Especially in this business. I can live with that reality. But I won’t abide questions about attrition from a serial quitter.

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