Should You Switch Jobs in a Recession?

Weighing the pros and cons of job-hopping

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Alison Green
You hate your job. The work is boring, your boss annoys you, you share an office with someone who insists on taking all her calls on speakerphone, and you're pretty sure the guy down the hall uses your photo as his screensaver.

Or maybe you like your job all right but you saw a higher-paying opening at another company that you'd be perfect for.

But in such a bad economy, should you think twice about switching jobs?

Before I trick you into thinking I have an answer for you, know that I don't. What I do know is this: Switching jobs is always a risk, even in the best of economic times. And right now, it's extra risky because if the new job doesn't work out, the escape route--leaving and finding something else--is far more clogged with people than it used to be.

So if you're considering switching jobs, here are some factors to consider--anytime, but especially now:

  • You might hate the new job or the culture or the boss. People tend to see only what they want to see when they're considering a new position, but this is a time when you should be as clear-eyed as possible. Don't let yourself overlook danger signs or you might jump from one bad situation into another.
    • The new job might pay more, but it also might lay you off in three months. What do you know about the new employer's financial stability versus your current employer's?
      • Are the things that are driving you away from your current job things that you might be able to change by speaking up? Or that you might be able to live with more or less happily by changing your perspective?
      • Obviously, it would be silly to say people should never change jobs in a bad economy. Maybe you can find your dream job, or a way out of a career sinkhole, or a financial windfall. But if there was ever a time to proceed with some extra caution and not leap rashly, it's now.

        Alison Green is chief of staff for a medium-sized nonprofit where she oversees day-to-day management of the staff as well as hiring, firing, and staff development. She is working with the Management Center to coauthor a book on nonprofit management. Her writings have been published in the Washington Post, the New York Times, Maxim, and dozens of other newspapers. She blogs at Ask a Manager.