Let’s be clear: there isn’t a lot of great news out there in the job market. If you look at some of the previous definitions of unemployment, the total is higher than the current 6.5%.
October’s layoffs continued the 15-month-long decline in the Employment Trends Index and it is now down 11.8% from a year ago.
And with quotes like this one, it will undoubtedly be getting worse before it gets better:
“The economic developments of the last two months made it clear to businesses that demand for goods and services in the U.S. is declining, and businesses are responding by aggressively slashing their payrolls,” said Gad Levanon, economist at the Conference Board, in a report.
“Unfortunately, it seems this environment will persist for several more quarters and business leaders will continue reducing their workforce,” he added.
For knowledge workers, no surprise, we’re in an adverse environment. Companies haven’t planned well for a downturn and will now over-react to payrolls. You’d think after 20-years of this the management teams out there would have had a better way of controlling expenses now, wouldn’t you?
But reality is reality and that’s what we deal with here on Cube Rules. And in any environment, there are opportunities.
In an adverse environment, the first work that is done is understanding your situation. Without understanding your situation, you won’t be able to plan accordingly.
Here’s what you need to get written down to get an understanding of your situation:
How you answer those questions will tell you a lot about your current situation. It is human nature to ignore the early warning signs of trouble and asking these questions should help you uncover some of these signs.
Once you understand your current situation, you should be able to tell the risk of staying or leaving.
If you stay, it is critical that your performance on the job continues to exceed expectations. This is the only way you can preserve salary and bonus amounts of the past since most of both will be going down. Exceeding expectations in your current job differentiates you from others who are wandering around hallways wondering if the world will come to an end. You can control your job performance; you can’t control the world coming to an end. Knowing the difference will make a big difference in your job security.
If you plan on leaving, know that it will take quite a while with the current economic environment. So start doing the work of finding a new job right now. There is a lot to do to find a new position, especially considering that you cannot slack off of your current work to do so.
I had a CIO once that described the interviews for the CIO position and it was enlightening. Gone are the stupid questions of “Tell me about yourself.” Instead, there are the tough questions about your judgment and decision-making in tough times. After all, the good times are easy. Tough times require making serious choices after coming up with a plan that fits the environment. Following through on those choices tells the hiring manager not only your decisions, but your values and character as a person on the team.
Now, I’m not going to go all happy on you and tell you that all is well and adversity is a cool thing. It’s not; no one likes going through adversity.
But knowing your situation and having a game plan to address it through these tough times will build your skills. Without being battle tested, you really aren’t a Cubicle Warrior. This adverse environment is a time to choose to build your career despite the tough times.