Look before you leap into a new job

Despite the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting unemployment numbers over 10%, there are positive signs for the economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is holding steady at over 10,000, and both the Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 remain at prerecession levels, indicating that a recovery is imminent, if not already under way.

I'm already seeing evidence of it with some of our clients. They are beginning to hire to make up for having cut too deeply during the downturn, or are planning major ramp-ups this year to meet aggressive sales forecasts. The message from employers is clear: The war for talent is back on.

Even though a recovery appears to be in motion, IT professionals considering a job change in 2010 must remain cautious. There are essentially two types of recession: "U"-shaped and "W"-shaped. A U-shaped recession lasts one cycle, and a W-shaped recession is really two recessions back-to-back. Unfortunately, there is no way to accurately gauge which type of recession we are currently dealing with.

If we are recovering from a U-shaped recession, we can look forward to steady economic improvement. However, if we are just midway through a W-shaped recession, then we still have to travel down the back side of the W before enjoying a true sustained recovery. This means that we could actually see a repeat of the recession cycle we experienced over the past year and a half. This also means that all of the "good" we are experiencing in the economy right now -- the rising stock market, growing employment, a real estate sales uptick and increasing consumer confidence -- could tumble back to the lows we experienced just a few months ago.

With this in mind, as you contemplate making a job change in 2010, consider these points:

Run to a new job or career, rather than away from the one you have. The economy has affected most, if not all, companies in North America and around the globe. Don't be naive in thinking that while you suffered, your neighbors and colleagues did not. If you, as the professional manager of your own career, have determined that your current employer cannot offer the career opportunities that you desire and are truly qualified for, then you certainly are justified in exploring other options. If, however, you do have viable career options with your current employer but advancement opportunities have just been delayed because of the recession and current corporate climate, consider staying with your current employer and waiting until the economy has shown steady improvement for at least six months. Then re-evaluate.

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