Does a Pandemic Make This a Bad Time to Change Jobs?

A highly qualified, motivated candidate of mine recently surprised me by withdrawing her candidacy, deciding to stay put in her current position rather than pursuing a position that would represent for her a dramatic step up, expressing concern that this felt like “a bad time to change jobs.”  She couldn’t define logically what that meant, but her emotion was palpable.

With so many employers imposing hiring freezes and furloughing workforces, a pandemic like the novel coronavirus is unsettling for everyone, personally and professionally, in any station of life.

That said, while this is a stressful, challenging time for all of us, in what ways is this a bad time to change jobs?

Granted, openings are few and far between in most organizations, reserved for “critical positions,” so competition among job seekers for those fewer available jobs will be high.  When is competition for any desirable role not high? 

In keeping with social distancing, interviews must be conducted remotely via videoconferencing, which introduces communication challenges to both candidates and hiring managers.  By now, are we not all experienced Zoom, Teams or GoToMeeting practitioners, familiar with controls, protocols, even proper lighting?  Has not the entire corporate world adapted to these tools for WFH as our new normal, for now?

Onboarding while working from home does mean a new hire must come up to speed without the benefit of direct, in-person access to their new manager, or to meeting a new hire’s team or key stakeholders.  Is that a reason not to change jobs?  Pandemic or not, responsibility falls on HR and the hiring manager to get any new hire acclimated, socialized and productive. At the same time, most newly hired executives push themselves to complete their onboarding as quickly as possible, so they can begin to build working relationships.  In other words, pandemic or not, little about onboarding goals and achievable objectives has changed, just the tools.

What about our economy?  All industries across the world are being impacted to some degree by the virus, by government regulations or mandated working conditions, with lower revenues or strained operating costs a cruel reality.  There will be businesses that will not survive, particularly SMB’s with low cash reserves.  Other businesses will seize the opportunity to acquire weaker competitors, to expand or to establish LOBs that would provide them strategic advantage.  That is capitalism’s Darwinian advantage, to rebuild itself and to grow stronger.  Our economy will recover eventually, just as it did after 2007.

At a time when every business can expect some turmoil, should anyone consider their current employer a safe harbor?  Clearly, no. There are no guarantees.

Faced with these uncertainties, how should professionals logically examine their options and advance their careers at this time?

More than anything else, consider the opportunity in front of you.  Is this an average job, a better job or a great job? Do the opportunity and the company excite you, contribute to your long-term goals, add value to your life in the form of professional growth, income growth, greater satisfaction?  Do they advance your professional brand for the future?  In your interviews with your hiring manager and the interview team, did they impress you as a whole, and do you feel inspired to join their team?  If the company is changing, is it on the right track, and has the leadership outlined a credible plan?  What does your research into the company’s financial history and current projections tell you about its financial footing today?  Is this a company for which you would be proud to say you work?  Is this a job in which you can make a difference, and feel valued for your contribution?  Given the opportunity, is this a job in which you can grow and develop as a professional? Those are the factors that should matter most to anyone considering a job change – now, in this upside-down, topsy-turvy time of Covid-19, or really anytime.

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Diligent Partners LLC