Changing jobs in a recession

I can’t speak for other industries specifically, so this post concentrates on the marketing/PR space. I am guessing the same principles apply across industries but truth be told, I have no additional insight into, say, the banking or pharmaceutical spaces.

The economy is in free fall and agencies all over the world are bracing themselves for the impact. I’m sure that marketing and communications departments are already steeling themselves for some tough conversations around their budgets.

However, the market for talent is a strong as ever and even if they are just replacing staff lost through normal turnover, agencies and communications departments will still be hiring.

So what should you do?

There are two schools of thought:

One is that wherever you go, there will be the “last in first out” syndrome which dictates that if things do turn from bad to even worse, the newest team members will be cut. This is especially true for the agency world where it takes, I would think, six to 12 months to properly bed in and get up to your previous rate of productivity. If you believe this, stay put.

Secondly is that if you are thinking about a move, you better make damn sure you are moving for the right reasons into an organization where you are as sure (as it is possible to be these days) that it is a good fit. For both parties. And if you are making a move, my advice would be to negotiate as hard as you can on salary and benefits – if things do get worse before they get better, you should be prepared to be at this position for quite a few years and with minimal pay increases.

Clearly, there are pros and cons for both schools of thoughts with risks and rewards factored into both. Which school of thought are you in? What are your thoughts on making a job move during a recession?

One Response to Changing jobs in a recession

  1. Owen Lystrup says:

    Excellent post, Ed.

    I think you’re saying what a lot of people are thinking. In the modern work environment, the PR profession especially–and the agency profession even more especially–it’s more common than ever for people to job hop around until they find the right spot. Or open their own gig.

    In any case, this is the position I find myself in right now. What makes it more interesting is I first left PR agency life to work in IT at Genentech. Now that I’m looking to move on within the next few months, the question is do I stay in IT, or go back to PR?

    My girlfriend and I are actually both in the same boat. Things definitely are getting scary. Many companies who have before now been considered relatively safe seem to be catching a large impact from the recession.

    It’s at least going to be interesting to see how this recession affects the industry as a whole.

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