Determining when is the best time to leave your current position and start a job search or accept an offer is always difficult. This angst is multiplied during the current Covid-19 pandemic, as people have to decide whether to make the leap and leave their current position to start a new one.
My reference above is to those fortunate to still be gainfully employed or temporarily furloughed during this crisis. Of course, if you have been terminated or laid off, then the decision has been made for you and a job search needs to begin immediately.
The statistics are coming in regarding employee turnover. A recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has the “quit rate” for March and April 2020 at under 2% each month. These are the lowest numbers for this metric since 2011 when the economy was just leaving a recession. It should be no surprise that the numbers of employees leaving are way down and it is doubtful that this is because of a sudden surge of loyalty being felt by people. No, the reason is most likely twofold: 1) opportunities in many industries are way down, and 2) people are reluctant to leave their current positions.
There are a variety of emotional reasons why a person may feel some reluctance to leave their current job. Let’s examine some of the emotional, but very real reasons why a person may feel tied to their employer.
- Change is difficult right now. You may feel you want the safety and security of your current role. During this time of COVID and social unrest, it may not feel like a good time to add the uncertainty of changing employers.
- You may be worried that wherever you go, you may be less stable than where you currently work. It may be a situation where you may not be 100% convinced of the stability of your current job, but at least you are working and worry that the next step may not be as steady.
- The concept of looking for work feels a bit unsafe. You may be currently working in “your bubble”, perhaps you are working from home or only coming in as necessary. Physically putting yourself out there to look for work may seem a bit risky when you focus on in-person interviews and an on-boarding (if hired).
- You also may be feeling like there are no other alternatives. You may have the false assumption that there are not any open positions out there for you to seek, so why bother starting your job search.
If you are thinking of a job search during these unprecedent times, then please consider the following.
- It is always a big change to switch jobs. New things to learn and new people to get to know. While the COVID-19 situation adds some additional complexity to your on-boarding, I am sure that it is nothing that you and your prospective employer can’t work through together. If anything, they should be more understanding during your training, considering the circumstances.
- Try to do as much research as possible to determine the stability of your prospective employer. It is more than OK to ask them for an assessment. Given the COVID-19 world that we are living in, they should be expecting questions regarding any past furloughs or the future outlook. While nothing is a guarantee, I am sure your current employer is not a sure thing either.
- Employers are doing as much as possible to keep everyone safe during crisis. This includes dramatically revamping the recruiting process to add virtual career fair events, teleconference interviews, and other activities that limit the direct contact that occurs with the candidate. If an interview has to occur in-person, then social distancing should happen to keep everyone safe. If you find yourself in a situation where an employer is recruiting, but NOT taking the COVID-19 guidelines seriously, then that should be a big warning sign for you to stay away from them.
- While the economy did go through a rough few months stretch, the June 2020 numbers were very positive, and we are seeing more companies rebounding. As employers start to get back to some degree of normalcy, the posting of new open positions will follow.
The COVID-19 situation has been difficult for everyone, but there are strong signs of the economy improving. While it is your personal decision whether to leave for a new position, it is not correct to just assume that no employer is hiring. Take a moment to assess your current situation and determine whether you should at least look to see what is out there in the job market. It rarely hurts to sneak a peek at who is hiring and determine if something better is waiting for you.
As always, best of luck in your job search.