Making job moves during economic downturn | Sunday Observer
Don’t drop your dreams

Making job moves during economic downturn

24 October, 2021

With the pandemic taking a heavy toll on the global economy and consequent negative impact on the Sri Lankan economy its very likely that anguish and despair in the job market will continue to haunt the job market. Local economic downturn is inevitable – so awareness and preparedness can help you mitigate it.    

Conventional wisdom says that an economic downturn is not a good time to change jobs and that employed professionals should just hunker down in their current positions and try to prevent getting laid off. But staying put could potentially do more harm to your career than pursuing a new opportunity.

As the world is adapting to what is now the “new normal’’, to say the current economy is intimidating would be an understatement. It can be hard to be optimistic during an economic downturn. But it’s to your disadvantage to drop your dreams.

One of the biggest recession-era career mistakes people can make is believing they have to put their career goals or dreams on hold. Recessions absolutely create career challenges and obstacles and change your immediate work needs. You will likely have to be flexible, but this doesn’t mean you should forgo your career goals. Careers are not linear, they are fluid. An open mind would create opportunities. 

While it may be briefly beneficial, at least mentally to ensure that you, your industry or company is safe from layoffs, this way of thinking can be harmful in the long run. 

In general, we must always be growing, changing and improving ourselves, our habits and our businesses to continue seeing success. This is even more true in an economic downturn. While seeing news of layoffs can be disheartening, it’s important to remember that there are employers out there who are hiring. Having the mindset that no one is hiring can ruin your career during a recession.

Other options

During times of weak economic growth, like in 2009, people are more likely to stay with their current employers for fear of instability or a lack of openings within their industry. But when the job market tightens as it is now, job switching becomes more common. Those who previously felt “stuck” in less-than-ideal roles with little upward mobility; low wages, toxic cultures, or lengthy commutes now feel comfortable exploring other options.

Because it’s more difficult for employers to attract and hire qualified candidates in a healthy job market, they are more likely to seek out qualified and experienced workers directly. Also when the going gets tough employers need the best workers to help the business. To almost all the issues people are the best remedy. So even if someone isn’t actively searching for a new job, they may consider switching if another employer approaches them with an attractive opportunity.

There are several reasons you might choose to pursue an opportunity with a different employer. And while competition varies between job types and industries, a stronger job market generally means you’ll have a better advantage when it comes time to negotiate an offer.

Companies hire even during very bad times, but not in abundance. Career progress takes persistence and resilience, especially in a recession. Keep an eye out for opportunities that improve your career. This is one way to get ahead of the challenge. The same job in the same company overly depends on the macro environment. So a change can be to your advantage where your talent and capacity can successfully respond to the macro deterrent. 

Keep an eye – be visible

More than keeping your eye out, be sure you are applying consistently. Not everything you apply to needs to be your dream job, it just has to help you get there. Especially during social distancing, the idea of networking can feel, well, distant.

But keeping on good terms with colleagues and industry connections is of utmost importance, even during a recession where people often aren’t voluntarily moving around. Even in the worst economic times, there are employers who are hiring and many more who are looking to hire in the future. When people are not active in their search and within their networks, they become invisible to those employers. Set yourself up for success by continuing to attend networking events and reaching out to colleagues, even if it feels like they aren’t much help. After all, according to Frank, you never know what opportunity lies around the corner.

Good 50% of jobs are opportunities people find on the so-called hidden job market. That is to say, the jobs aren’t posted or advertised. That means that people who find these jobs are being referred by people they know, hearing about them in professional organizations, and getting tapped to move up from volunteer or entry-level positions.

Common mistake

The most common mistake I see is not being ready to begin a job search if needed. It’s much better to be prepared for a layoff and not end up needing it, than to be laid off and not be ready.  Better job offers with increased earnings, changing the industry to mix and match capabilities, upward mobility, easier commute and flexibility are several key reasons. In past generations, people who otherwise would have switched jobs instead chose to stay with their current employer because they assumed too much job-hopping on a resume could make them appear fickle or disloyal. However, as Millennials become the workforce majority and take on more leadership roles, and Gen Z enters the labour force, perceptions about job-hopping are rapidly changing.

Determining whether to stay with your current employer or pursue an outside opportunity is rarely a straightforward decision. In many cases, there are many factors you all need to weigh before you come to an informed conclusion. There is no good time or bad time to change jobs. It all depends on where you are placed and where you wish to be placed. What is critical is to be intelligent and rational in decision-making without allowing your emotions to drive you. Bear in mind that there is no easy life and easy jobs. With this conviction you will make the right judgment.