Last year, to say the labour market was red-hot would be an understatement. More like a boiling potato that no matter how many times you blow at it (with your mouth open, making all sorts of weird sounds!) it would not cool down.
Workers would be able to bounce from one job to another like a cool game of hop-sctoch and scoop up some pretty hefty pay rises. It was kinda a no-brainer.
If you hated your job, there was somewhere else to go that would pay you more. So you never felt trapped. Or stuck. You knew there was a way out. A higher-salary-way-out.
And if you did just so happen to like your job but wanted more dosh you could take comfort in knowing that someone, somewhere would take you. And pay you a whole lore more for grabbing you!
Switching jobs meant a guaranteed pay bump + tons of free perks!
Recruiters and head-hunters were having a field-day. They helped their clients secure better, higher-paying roles with more flexibility. The tech guys from Google to Meta to Amazon were all gunning for that fresh hot talent. So they had to tempt them with all sorts of things.
It was a game of lets-see-who-can-tempt-the-most-workers-with-the-coolest-perks. There was a shortage of tech talent and they wanted them all. So, they had to get creative and offer stuff competitors weren’t! Which meant the big winners were the workers!
Google had rock-climbing walls, in-house gyms, message therapists as they call it and a load of other ridiculously cool perks! Apple started holding ‘beer bashes’ which was basically an in-house concert+ free food. Maroon 5 even made an appearance! Meta had on-site dental/healthcare/dry-cleaning and even bike repairs!!
A guy told me he had a sauna in his San Fran office. An all-you-can-eat buffet and endless beer pongs. Totally normal right?? I guess I shouldn’t complain. We’ve got a coffee machine. That also spews out hot choc. But that’s as far as it goes!
Perks? Gone. Salary? Cut.
Now that the economy has started to wobble on its knees, you can kiss goodbye to all those goodies. The tech sector has already cut nearly 100,000 jobs this year! And wonderful perks are vanishing with them.
But that’s not all that’s gone. Pay rises aren’t what they used to be. Hopping from place to place as it the right of passage for any fresher out of uni to climb that career ladder, it’s not so easy as it was. And not nearly as rewarding anymore.
This also makes me think that companies don’t need to work their butts off to keep their workers happy. They can cut back on loads of things from flexible hours to insisting workers come in the office a certain number of days.
My friend at JPM who’s been pretty much working remotely ever since covid has now been told he needs to go into the office a minimum of 3 days p/week since his new promotion! His CEO hates remote work. Something tells me bosses are gonna recoup some of their power lost during covid! Watch out!
Moving jobs is not as lucrative (and risk-free!) as it once was
Back in Aug 2022, your typical job switcheroo would have bagged an 8.4% pay rise. Now, you’d be lucky to get 5.6%. It’s not nothing, I know, but in real terms (once inflation is added into the mix) it’s kinda like getting a pay cut. Just saying.
In March 2023, job switchers’ wage growth fell to 7.3%, while those who stayed with employers received a 5.9% increase. As the market shifts, fewer workers are dashing for the exits. The quits rate, which measures how many people choose to leave their job, fell to 2.6% in February, down from its 2021 high of 3.0% (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)
In these kind of economic conditions we’re prioritising stability over much else
During downturns is not the time to leave your company. This fear keeps workers shtum but it also means you’re less exposed. You know what they say, ‘first in first out, last in last out’. Obvs this isnt’ always a literal thing but you get the picture.
This can make you feel stuck or lost for opportunities but that doesn’t mean you gotta sit still!
While you’re there, you might as well make the most of your current gig and even bag a promotion.
Network in your company – let others know you’re available + interested in new opportunities. The more you get your name out there, the more people will remember you so when something interesting comes up, you’ll come highly recommended!
Know that nothing lasts forever!
Something someone told me was that no job needs to be forever. I’m in my first job after uni and it can feel overwhelming. Like do I wanna be here for 5yrs? Do I wanna do something else? You know those thoughts. I bet you have them too.
But she told me this job is simply 1 out of what will be many on a long and hopefully rewarding career journey. If you don’t jam with it or it doesn’t give you what you hoped it would, you could try something else.
Your position is never 100% permanent. You should never ever feel like you’re stuck and you can’t move on.
While right now, with the economic slowdown, moving jobs looks like the risky bet and staying is the less risky one. But this doesn’t mean you should be miserable.
Use your after-hours to build your skill set (especially if you wanna transition to a slightly different area) and build your knowledge.
Every job will teach you something different. See it as a stepping stone, a part of your timeline. Not your entire timeline.
I found it helped me get over that anxiety of not knowing what comes next. It helps get rid of some of the pressure we put on ourselves. It’s not forever and it doesn’t need to be.
So whether you’re bold and are making the switch or having decided to stay put, you should never feel stuck. Network – both within your company and with people outside of it. You never know when the right opportunity will find you.
Always have a plan B. Build your income outside of work whether it’s via dividend stocks, rental income or a side gig, don’t ignore the power of having more than one income stream.
It will make more 1000x more resilient and even if it’s not much (relative to your day job) you’ll feel a greater sense of security.
I’m trying to work on this one and it’s not easy but once you’ve got it, it’s yours. And no one can take it anyway. Not an HR monster or a recession.
Work on what will be yours. That stuff will be permanent.
Disclaimer: This blog is not investment or financial advice. It is my opinion only. This blog is not a personal recommendation to buy/sell any security, or to adopt any such investment strategy. Always do your own research before you commit to any investment.