The Best (And Worst) Time to Change Jobs

Loyalty in the corporate world is non-existent. Gone are the days when people would stick with a company for 30 years, be given a retirement dinner and a nice watch at the end of their tenure, and cruise off into the sunset for retirement.

In the US, people under the age of 30 change jobs about as often as they get a new iPhone – every 18 months on average. Statistics show that throughout a person’s working career they’ll have about 8 different jobs. And that number has been trending higher for well over a decade.

As much as we all want to preach how loyal of a person we are, the statistics show that when it comes to our working careers, the majority are always looking for the B.B.D. (bigger better deal).

With that in mind, I want to share some insight…

I’m not in the so-called corporate world, but as an entrepreneur who has hired many people over the last decade, I know when the ideal time to change jobs is… and it’s not when most people think.


The Worst Time to Change Jobs

Most people look to change jobs, and move up the corporate ranks, when things are rolling along and economic growth is abundant. During the good times people don’t always appreciate what they have. It’s human nature. And when they get tired of their Honda because their neighbor just got a new Mercedes, they start to think that that should be them.

As a result, people start looking around, concluding they are worth more than what’s being paid to them every two weeks. This breeds career-restlessness, which leads to job market curiosity. After all, the economy is booming and the good times are never going to end…

Well, I got news for you, changing jobs near the top of an economic cycle is terrible timing.

When my company has hired during robust markets, it’s because we are simply looking to acquire more market share, and can’t keep up with demand. We aren’t necessarily hiring new people based on their unique skill-set. And in the boom times we aren’t hiring people because we view them as irreplaceable. We are hiring because business is booming and we need more man power. It’s that simple. And every other company is doing the same.

If you are switching companies during the boom times, you’d better be comfortable with the fact that you might have been hired by the new company solely because it is growing and needs someone to fill the void. Not exactly a comforting notion when you start thinking about job security.

Who do you think will be on the chopping block when the frothy times dissipate and the economy stalls?


The Best Time to Change Jobs

A friend of mine is an investment banker in the energy sector. He’s been with one of the biggest banks in Canada for several years and has made a great living. During the recent boom years for oil (2012, 2013 and 2014) he was head-hunted by almost every major US bank out there. They offered him a dramatic pay raise from what he was making in Canada, but he turned them all down. Why?

Because they were looking to hire him due to the industries rapid growth during those years when oil hovered around $100 per barrel. He is a sharp cat, and knew the boom times wouldn’t last forever.

Had he taken any one of those offers, he might be sweating about his job security right now. Oil is currently at $48 per barrel and the industry in contracting every day. Investment bankers in the industry are being laid-off left and right. And you better believe he would have been on the chopping block had he changed companies during the boom years.


The Ideal

Just one month ago, amidst the crash in oil prices, a new fund out of New York with just over a billion dollars to spend in the energy space gave my friend a ring. They were looking to start a new division consisting of 6 bankers who would be responsible for deploying roughly $1 billion into the depressed oil market. At the bottom of the market, in the industry’s darkest hour, they wanted to hire him. Now that’s comforting.

This investment bank clearly values my friend’s expertise. They aren’t simply hiring him because they can’t keep up with demand. They are hiring him because they believe he is an asset they need to build their team and accomplish their goals.

Plain and simple, if job security is important to you, never change jobs at the top of a cycle. Make moves at the bottom because a company that wants to hire you in the tough times views you as an indispensable asset, and most likely has long-term plans for you.

Stay hungry,

Aaron Hoddinott signature




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