Despite the worldwide unemployment figures, there are positive signs for the economy. A recovery is imminent, if not already under way.
Many businesses are beginning to hire to make up for having cut too deeply during the downturn, or are planning major ramp-ups this year to meet aggressive sales forecasts. The message from employers is clear: The war for talent is on again.
Even though a recovery appears to be in motion, IT professionals considering a job change in 2010 must remain cautious. There are essentially two types of recession: “U”-shaped and “W”-shaped. A U-shaped recession lasts one cycle, and a W-shaped recession is really two recessions back-to-back. Unfortunately, there is no way to accurately gauge which type of recession we are currently dealing with.
If we are recovering from a U-shaped recession, we can look forward to steady economic improvement. However, if we are just midway through a W-shaped recession, then we still have to travel down the other side of the W before enjoying a true sustained recovery. This means that we could actually see a repeat of the recession cycle we experienced over the past year and a half. This also means that all of the “good” we are experiencing in the economy right now—the rising stock market, growing employment, a rise in real estate sales and increasing consumer confidence—could tumble back to the lows we experienced just a few months ago.
The big switch: Sometimes it’s just better to stay till the economy settles.
So consider these points when you contemplate a job change:
Run to a new job or career, rather than away from the one you have
Don’t be naïve in thinking that while you suffered, your neighbours and colleagues did not. If you, as the professional manager of your own career, have determined that your current employer cannot offer the career opportunities that you desire and are truly qualified for, then you are certainly justified in exploring other options. If, however, you do have viable career options with your current employer but advancement opportunities have just been delayed because of the recession and current corporate climate, consider staying on and waiting until the economy has shown steady improvement for at least six months. Then re-evaluate.
Is the grass greener on the other side?
As the market has picked up over the past few months, so has the number of job openings in the marketplace. But again, don’t be deceived into believing that every company in your speciality area, other than yours, has recovered. Do your homework on the companies you’re interested in. If you’re dealing with a recruiter, ask him to tell you what is driving the need to hire.
The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know
It might be a cliché, but there is some truth to the adage. Consider the environment in which you currently work. Perhaps you have established yourself as a trustworthy and reliable employee with a reputation for getting things done. You have probably built valuable relationships and professional alliances. In a new company, you won’t have that advantage. It could take months, even years, before you attain the knowledge and comfort level you have in your current position. Taking on a new position in a new company always comes with the risk of the unknown. Determine if it’s worth it.
Interview your future employer
It’s perfectly acceptable for a prospective employee to ask pointed questions of the interviewer regarding the company’s financial stability and strategic direction, specific career path options, educational and professional backgrounds of company leaders, benefits, training and perks. Be sure to evaluate your reasons for making a switch, really get to know the other organizations you’re considering, and weigh the pros and cons of any move.
Before you leave your current organization, make sure you really have exhausted all the opportunities there, and that a move to a new job or company really will be the best thing for your career. In short, look before you leap.
The writer is vice-president of service delivery at Yoh Talent Solutions, a leading provider of high-impact talent and outsourcing services and a unit of Day and Zimmermann.
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