Should you change jobs before a recession, experts say

Over the past year, job seekers have thrived in a mature job market, earning higher salaries and better benefits across various industries.

However, some indicators suggest that this period may be coming to an end. Inflation is at a 40-year high, gobbling up some of the wage gains workers have made over the past year, and earlier this month the stock market entered bearish territory. A poll published June 30 by The New York Times found that 52% of 5,432 adults surveyed said they were in worse financial shape than a year ago. These signs have many experts and economists preparing for a recession.

But Nick Bunker, head of economics research at jobs platform Indeed, said there was still time to consider a new gig. Wages continue to rise, job vacancies are near an all-time high, and unemployment is still low. But he said job seekers should proceed with caution.

“The outlook isn’t as rosy as it was a few months ago,” Bunker told Insider. “Now people should think a little bit.”

It can be difficult to make sense of the economy, as well as the personal factors that go into career decisions like salary, benefits, flexibility, and fulfillment. Insider spoke with experts to understand what the current economy means for the Great Resignation.

How to change jobs responsibly

Lindsey Pollak, career coach and author of “Recalculating: Navigate Your Career Through the Changing World of Work,” said it’s okay to look for other opportunities. Especially in times of economic uncertainty, it’s important to keep your network active to find connections that can help you in the worst case scenario of losing your job.

“Control what you can — what you can control is staying in touch with your network and reaching out to people,” Pollak told Insider.

Bunker encourages job seekers to look down when considering a new opportunity. If the company you’re interested in has recently laid off employees, new hires could be at risk if another round of layoffs occurs.

“How strong do you think your current employer is compared to another?” Bunker said. “Do you think you can get somewhere where you have similar stability?”

What’s more, making the decision to change jobs also depends on the industry you’re in, Bunker said. Some tech companies have already downsized, while finance and investment banking are also facing cutbacks, particularly in the housing sector.

However, Bunker said essential industries like health care are resilient to economic downturns. If you can find a job in a stable industry, changing jobs can help you get a higher salary to overcome the


recession

.

Finally, larger companies generally fare better in tumultuous times, Bunker added.

When will job-hopping slow down?

Experts still say changing jobs is a good decision under the right circumstances, but workers should watch unemployment rates when deciding whether or not to stay with their current employer, Bunker said.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate held steady at 3.6% in May — in 2022, the rate remained near its lowest level in five decades. But if that starts to change, Bunker said job seekers should take that as an indication to stay put.

Pollak also pointed out that there are many ways to be resilient and that there are always opportunities in times of change.

“I’m reassured to know that we’ve been through this before,” Pollak said, referring to the 2008 recession. “The economy has its ups and downs, its ups and downs.”

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