Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fearful Workers Are Staying Put

In job-market sentiment surveys, people who say they expect to remain in their current job are routinely tallied as expressing a pessimistic view of employment conditions. If that strikes you as counter-intuitive, then an article in Thursday's Wall Street Journal should help clear things up.

That "Careers" piece by WSJ reporter Sarah Needleman starts off noting that,

A growing number of professionals are saying "no, thanks" to prospective employers asking them to change jobs.
A newly released survey by Accenture (conducted in mid-September) found just 13 percent of 322 U.S. middle managers said they were actively looking for a job. And 46 percent said it's "risky" to switch employers in the current environment.

Those findings align with anecdotal reports from headhunters, who the WSJ says "are having to work harder just to get professionals to hear out job opportunities they have to offer." One reason employees fear to move: the occasional horror story about someone who left a steady job only to lose their new job shortly thereafter – perhaps even before starting work.

If you're an intrepid soul who is still willing to fish in today's treacherously choppy waters, the WSJ also has several good tips about limiting the danger that jumping to a new boat might capsize your career. They include performing due diligence on the new employer (through a variety of methods – direct questioning, searching news stories and SEC filings, and seeking out past and present employees to get their opinions), and asking for a severance package before coming aboard.

The article's concluding paragraph also struck a chord with me. I've often found that my friends and family usually are clueless about the business world – so their advice, well-meaning though it is, can't be relied on. Says the WSJ:

It's wise to weigh the pros and cons of a job change with a professional career coach or mentor, says (executive coach and recruiter Paula) Marks. "Don't discuss it with friends and family. They bring their own baggage, their own fears."

No comments: