“Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

Date November 21, 2008

Stay or Go?We all know this is a difficult job market.  We have friends and neighbors who are looking for work.  People like to share horror stories and layoffs make the headlines every day.  Is it any wonder that people who are employed want to hunker down and stay where they are – riding out the storm?  The familiar company seems safer than the unknown.  But when you do learn of a new opportunity or receive a new job offer do you find yourself humming this question posed by the Clash – “Should I Stay or Should I Go”?

Sarah Needleman with the Wall Street Journal writes that employees are saying “stick with the job you know“.  It is true that Gina and I are hearing “thanks, but no thanks” when asking potential candidates to take a look at a new career opportunity.  In support of the rational that it is too risky to switch jobs, we are talking with some active job seekers who are in their current situation because of the old adage, “last hired, first fired”.  It can be a very risky time to switch employers but it can also be extremely risky to stay with your current employer.  The best advice we can give you is to research, research, research and….work with an ethical recruiter if you decide to dip your toes into the job market.  

I have seen swings in the job market several times.  Okay, I will put it out there, I have been recruiting in Seattle for more than 25 years – not your typical twenty-something recruiter.  I began my career in Human Resources where I had to deliver the bad layoff news to hundreds of employees.  As a result, my candidates and clients benefit from my history and experience.  I approach each position differently than most external recruiters – and not just during times of trouble.  

In our due diligence, we determine to the best of our ability the client’s current and future financial health.    In reviewing a client’s staffing needs, there are situations where we recommend hiring a professional on an interim basis.  This can be a win-win for everyone.  A company isn’t making a commitment that they can’t keep and there are talented professionals with careers that consist of meaningful contributions to companies for the timeframe when there talents are needed.  As the recruiter brokering these situations, we can also determine if the candidate is someone who will stay for the duration of the project.  Companies don’t always realize the level of talent they can contract for a temporary position and feel they have to hire someone “permanently” to get what they want.  A recruiter working to fill this job and make their commission, may not explore with their client or share with you the candidate, the temporary nature of the job.  It’s frustrating when I hear of these situations because they are mostly avoidable.

Even in a risky economy, there are some fantastic opportunities worth switching jobs for.  You can end up in a role with a strong mentor, new experiences to round out your career, a job closer to home or a company that is better positioned for the future than your current employer.  Does it make sense to let these opportunities go by without exploring them?  Of course not.  But again, research the heck out of the company and the industry.  There is so much information at your fingertips including news articles, talking to current and former employees of your potential company and their competitors, and listening to your gut instinct. 

As a recruiter, we are hired to sell the opportunity but we also give the good with the bad and let you make up your own mind if the opportunity is right for you.  Our goal is to make the best long term match for everyone.  If you are working with a recruiter that is giving you the hard-sell and their sales pitch is conflicting with your own research on the company – walk away.  Or if the job is still very compelling and your current job is at risk, negotiate a severance package that is equal to or greater than what you will receive from your current employer.  Review it with an attorney.  If the employer is not willing to give you a severance package, well, there may be a reason.  In the words of the Clash – “if you say that you are mine, I’ll be here til the end of time” – wait, that was 25 years ago during my dad’s era when employers and employees committed their entire career to each other.  My father once gave me excellent advice which green lighted me to quit my job and start my own business.  He told me that sometimes the riskiest thing you can do is stay with your current employer.  Take my advice – if you decide to go – get all the information you can about the opportunity, make your own decision after serious evaluation, and prepare for the breakup in advance by securing a severance package.   

Posted by Chris Englin

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