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Grass Not Always Greener When Changing Jobs

People should always be cautious when deciding whether to change jobs. But with the unemployment rate still relatively high, they also should examine the potential negative consequences of switching employers, according to Anne Stevens of ClearRock


With the number of employees quitting their jobs up 8% last year – the highest number of voluntary departures in four years – and one-third of workers planning to quit this year, some people contemplating making a move may want to first ask themselves, “Is the grass always greener?,” according to ClearRock.

More than 25 million workers quit their jobs in 2012, the highest since 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and 33% of employees are planning to look for a new job this year, according to a survey by Harris Interactive.

“People should always be cautious when deciding whether to change jobs. But with the unemployment rate still relatively high, they also should examine the potential negative consequences of switching employers more closely than they would in better economy,” said Anne Stevens, managing partner with ClearRock (, an outplacement and executive coaching firm headquartered in Boston.

Among the potential negative factors people need to weigh when considering changing employment in a tough job market are:

1. It’s still a buyer’s market and competition for jobs is fierce. There are 3.6 unemployed people for every available job opening, according to the Labor Department. While that is down by 46% from a record high of 6.7 unemployed people for each job opening in July 2009, it is still twice as high as the 1.6 unemployed per job opening in November 2007, the month before the recession began. “There are a lot more qualified candidates in the marketplace and because of them, salaries and compensation packages may not be as attractive as when changing jobs in a better economy,” said Stevens.

2. There is more pressure on new hires to realize results quicker. “Employers hiring people today are expecting them to make a noticeable impact immediately by increasing sales, cutting costs, or improving productivity, and they may be less patient than at the job you left. In a better economy, employers usually gave new hires about six months in which to perform, but that window has been cut by about half now,” said Stevens.

3. Last hired, first fired. “Newly hired employees generally have less seniority and may be the first ones affected by cutbacks. You also give up the benefits and perks of seniority you enjoyed at your old job when you leave,” said Stevens.

4. Quicker decision to terminate. “The shorter time period in which new hires have to achieve results, and the greater availability of qualified talent, means more employers may pull the trigger sooner. They may want to make a change more quickly than in a better economy and also offer less in severance when making layoffs" said Stevens.

5. If you don’t “fit” in, you’re out sooner. “Employers may be less forgiving of new hires who don’t fit in with culture of their organizations, or with co-workers and their supervisors. Teamwork and the need to collectively achieve goals take on increased importance in a slow economy. Those who don’t fit in are out of a job sooner" said Stevens.

6. Repent at leisure. “Some people quit their jobs based on one isolated incident or one negative performance review and then regret it, especially if they are not as happy in their new jobs as the ones they left. Don’t base your decision to leave on minor disagreements with supervisors or co-workers, or negligible compensation differences,” added Stevens.


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