ENGAGE Research: Top Supply and Tenure Trends for Business-Critical Talent

About the ENGAGE Research series: At ENGAGE, we study when professionals will be most interested in a new job as well as the factors that influence their interest. From time to time, we share our research in this article series.

We’ve shared trends about employee tenure before in the ENGAGE Research series. This time, however, we’re taking a more targeted look.

Instead of examining tenure data across professions and industries as we did in June, we’re focusing on tenure for professionals with in-demand skills, using a sample of about 10 million professionals for our analysis. In particular, we focused on professionals with skills in the following categories:

  • Sales and marketing

  • Business operations

  • Technical Disciplines

  • Design

We’re targeting professionals with in-demand skills for three reasons. First, our analysis of passive candidates recruiting trends shows lop-sided focus on these four categories versus others. Second, workers with in-demand skills are the ones that employers should especially focus on retaining, hence the importance of understanding their tenure trends. Third, as we’ll show below, there’s a clear relationship between the supply of in-demand skills and job tenure in professional jobs that isn’t as evident in other parts of the workforce.

Let’s take a close look at the insights that our data revealed from our analysis which is summarized in this infographic.

Skills and Marketing

1. There is a clear relationship between supply of in-demand skills and job tenure.

Professionals with less common skills that are also in high demand tend to have lower median tenure. This makes sense—due to the relative scarcity of their skills in the market, these workers have more opportunities, making them more likely to job-hop on their own volition. The scarcity of their skills also makes them more likely to be targeted in passive recruiting efforts, since the supply of quality unemployed candidates with those skills is likely to be low.

More precisely, our research revealed that median tenure for people with a given skill increases by almost one month as the supply of that skill increases one percentage point. For example, four years and almost four months is the median tenure for a skill when about 2 percent of people have that skill, but as the amount of competition in that area increases to 10 percent of people, median tenure goes up to about four years and 11 months.

If demand for uncommon skills is high, then we can expect quite low tenure—as well as high salaries for those jobs.

As we noted earlier, the relationship between supply of in-demand skills and job tenure differs from some subsets of the workforce. For example, the retail, restaurant and hospitality industries all have large supplies of workers, but actually have very low median tenure figures.

2. Major differences in supply exist among the four categories of in-demand skills.

Far more people have sales and marketing skills than have skills in the other categories. Specifically:

  • 2.7 times more people have sales and marketing skills than have design skills

  • 1.8 times more people have sales and marketing skills than have technical skills 

  • 1.5 times more people have sales and marketing skills than have business operations skills

3. Median tenure is lower for the design and technical skill categories than for sales and marketing and business operations.

Currently, the median tenures for the in-demand skill categories are:
  • Business Operations 4.9 years

  • Sales and Marketing 4.8 years

  • Technical 4.1 years

  • Design 3.7 years

Note that skills in the design and technical categories are less common, making this consistent with our first finding—that less common in-demand skills are associated with lower median tenure. 

As an employer, the lower median tenure for technical and design tell you that you’re likely to have to replace employees with design and technical skills sooner than those with sales and marketing and business operations skills. You might also choose to focus your retention efforts more on employees with design and technical skills, especially if they’re critical for your business.

4. Tremendous variability exists in supply of skills and tenure within skill categories.

Many different skills exist within each of the four in-demand skill categories—some of which can be relatively common and some highly uncommon.

Here are some notable examples of variability within the skill categories revealed by our research:

  • Sales and marketing: six times more people have business development skills than have market research skills.

  • Business operations: two times more people have operations management skills than financial reporting skills.

  • Business operations: people with HRIS skills on average have six more months of tenure in their current job than those with payroll processing skills.

  • Technical: two and a half times more people have SQL skills than have javascript skills.

  • Technical: people with python skills on average have 12 fewer months of tenure in their current job than those with web development skills.

  • Design: three times more people have graphic design skills have have ui/ux design skills.

  • Design: people with more common web design skills have 11 more months of tenure than those with wireframing skills.


The following chart shows median tenure for a small sample of skills within each category, with harder-to-find skills in orange and easier-to-find skills in green. While not every hard-to-find skill has a lower median tenure than easier-to-find skills in the same category, the correlation between skill commonality and median tenure is clear.

Takeaway for Employers

Takeaway for Employers

Tenure is an important consideration in recruiting and workforce planning, especially for in-demand skills that are key for business success. Tenure data is one of the inputs to our artificial intelligence recruitment marketing engine. 


Tags: ENGAGE Blog recruiting predictive Predictive Analytics Artificial Intelligence ENGAGE Research
Share on Linkedin