Hate your boss? You're not alone

Employment: Recent studies indicate that the worker of today is "a job seeker in perpetuity."

February 20, 2000|By Bernice Kanner

NEW YORK -- Brands have long known it and so, to judge by the spiraling divorce rate in America, have lovers: Loyalty is, if not dead, at least endangered.

Now America's employers are getting the same message and are, as one recruitment firm put it, "seeing more turnovers than bakeries."

Forty percent of employees vowed to get a better job as part of their New Year's resolutions, according to CareerBuilder.com, a Web-based recruitment company in Reston, Va.

There's even unrest among those not actively looking for a new job. Two of every three workers in America would walk off their jobs if a competitor offered a salary increase of 10 percent, according to a survey by the Salt Lake City-based Web site myjobsearch.com.

The Department of Labor confirms the mass job upheaval, reporting that the average 32-year old has held nine full- or part-time jobs since entering the work force.

The bureau notes that workers are changing jobs approximately every 2 1/2 years. Only one in three has held the same job for five years, and one in five are on their fourth or more job in five years.

"The days when a worker spent 30 years with one employer are gone," says Heather Stone, president of myjobsearch.com. "The employee of today is a job seeker in perpetuity --managing his or her career like a business and looking to improve earnings and profit margins much like the companies that employ them. Job seekers are taking control of their own career paths."

One survey suggests that nearly half of all workers have an updated resume ready to distribute at a moment's notice.

Just 2 percent of employed Americans expect to be downsized or dismissed during the next 12 months, according to a national phone survey by global outplacement firm Lee Hecht Harrison.

Bernadette Kenny, chief operating officer, says there are indications companies will downsize this year but most people feel "it isn't going to happen to them."

The Harrison survey found that 22 percent of respondents expect to be working for a different company a year from now, with 14 percent anticipating leaving voluntarily for another job elsewhere. Two percent plan to retire.

"Career management is being a way of life, not just something that people do in a crisis," Kenny says.

One factor fostering a lack of worker loyalty is the hot job market. The national unemployment rate sits at a 30-year low of 4.1 percent, and joblessness is as low as 2.9 percent in high-tech states such as Massachusetts. These new kinds of jobs also are paying more. According to Labor's December report, two out of three of the fastest growing occupations are in high-wage jobs.

Recruiting is also in high gear. Employers are doing more than ever to poach trained personnel from competitors. A study by Development Dimensions International found that more than half of all employers anticipate spending more on recruitment and selection this year than they did in 1999.

Another reason so many employees are looking forward to waving goodbye is that many of us detest our bosses. Careerbuilder.com found that one in three of us describe the boss as a "nightmare." Another 11 percent of the 50,000 surveyed were more diplomatic, terming their employers "difficult to work for."

The perks that most interested job seekers include getting a laptop computer, followed by getting every other Friday off. Nine percent are attracted by housekeeping services, but only 3 percent by getting a limo ride to work.

Perhaps surprising, one in three first-time job seekers said finding a job in a good location is more important than doing what they love or retaining the best salary. But, for the seasoned job seeker, competitive salary and benefits are the most important thing.

Those should be easy to get, as the job hunt has become such a buyer's market. Nearly two-thirds of employers admit they've had to lower their hiring standards to fill vacant positions and gotten creative in other ways with their recruiting strategies.

Bernice Kanner writes on advertising and marketing from New York and is the author of "The 100 Best TV Commercials ... and Why They Worked" (Times Books).

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