Job hopping deterred by fear of even more layoffs

ON THE JOB

November 28, 2008|By HANAH CHO | HANAH CHO,hanah.cho@baltsun.com

Under normal circumstances, switching jobs should not be a problem.

But we're in abnormal times. With unemployment creeping up each month, workers are choosing job security over the possible greener pastures of another employer, according to a new survey by global consulting firm Accenture.

Almost half of the 322 U.S. middle managers surveyed said taking a new job during the current economy is risky. The survey polled managers from several industries, including health and life sciences, public service, retail and financial services.

The survey doesn't explain what risky means, but I could venture a guess.

Almost every industry ranging from retail to financial services is laying off workers as it deals with the ailing economy.

With economists expecting conditions to get worse during the next year, there's a real possibility of more job cuts.

Some companies have a "last hired, first fired" policy, meaning newly hired employees could be at risk when employers look to trim their work force. A long tenure and even a positive performance evaluation is no guarantee in this climate, either.

The survey found that 18 percent said they would not take a new job because they fear being laid off as a new employee.

Even though 53 percent of managers polled in the survey said they were dissatisfied or only somewhat satisfied with their jobs, just 13 percent said they are actively looking for another job.

"They're not happy but the perceived risk of moving is causing the talent flow to slow down," says David Smith, managing director of Accenture's talent and organization practice in North America.

Thirty-four percent of managers said they would like a new job but feel they are more secure in their current position until the economy improves.

Even if you want to make the move, Dale Winston, chief executive officer of Battalia Winston International, an executive search firm with headquarters in New York, says relocation is becoming an increasing challenge because of the diminishing real estate market.

"In many cases, people's homes are worth less than their mortgages," she says. "If their homes have value, the homes are not simply selling."

But despite all the uncertainty out there, don't let fear stop you from jumping ship, says Estelle Newman, president of Baltimore recruiting firm CareerWise Inc.

"In this job market, it's fear that's telling you that 'I want stability,' " Newman says.

"Even in the best of times, you never take a job and ask an employer or a recruiter for job stability. It doesn't exist."

One thing to consider when evaluating a job offer is the offer itself, she says. Does the offer reflect the value you provide to the prospective employer? Are they telling you that they can't meet your requests because of the economy?

Also take note of potential red flags at the prospective employer, such as management turnover.

"The most important thing to ask yourself is what's in it for them," she says. "You'll eliminate a lot of fear if you could verbalize 'this is what they gain by bringing me into the organization.' "

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