I spend a lot of time sharing strategies on how to escape a dumpster fire of a job—or the emotional chaos of being unemployed after a termination. “Dumpster fire” is a bit dramatic, but I’m well known for spicing it up in the drama department.
Nonetheless, I’m probably best known as the guy you go to for a career transition.
But today, I challenge that notion. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side; it’s greener where you water it (or where the dogs are shitting if you’re only here for my snappy pessimism).
Let’s consider why staying put may be the best option, especially as we accelerate the current recession into super bubble-popping oblivion.
Quit Complaining And Choose Fight or Flight
In its simplest form, business is only about creating and solving problems. You have problems where you are, and while they may be annoying you will have problems anywhere you go. But, if you’re an executive leader, it is your job to solve the problems, and some blame can likely be placed on the face in the mirror.
Staying put means knowing the challenges and using the relationships you’ve developed at your company to navigate better solutions.
Sure, sometimes it’s not at the pace we want, and sometimes it means dealing with Karen and Chad. And dammit, I can’t hold my tongue one more day with those two.
But either way, the problems you face are known, and you’re uniquely qualified to take action.
Taking the Risks, or At Least Knowing Them
Knowing the ins and outs of your company heading into a recession is a boon you won’t easily replicate elsewhere. Consider, are you truly in a fight or flight scenario?
Jumping straight to flight can be flippantly risky, especially for near 7-figure earners.
- Your reputation resets at ground zero. Tenure is gone.
- You need to prove yourself again, and expectations may be untenable.
- It can take 6-18 months to find a similar role.
- You lose any air cover or relationships you’ve built with the C-suite or board.
- Small bumps in pay are typically negligible in the scheme of things. (Or if you’re in California, the taxes gobble them up, or you hit a new bracket and make less).
- Perfect due diligence doesn’t exist. You put a lot of trust in a new employer when leaping. Their financial forecasts may be overly optimistic.
There’s a lot at stake for an executive career transition—and those stakes are amplified as economic uncertainty looms.
Plus most clients I work with would rather chew glass than look for a job.
Executive job search is an exhausting sales process full of time-consuming and menial activities, just to present yourself to a junior recruiter making a snap decision on you because you forgot to include “cross-functional communication” as a core skill.
Fight The Fight And Prepare For Flight
I told myself I could get through an entire article on staying put and doing nothing during a recession. But I can’t. I understand that there are dozens of reasons why staying in your role is a great idea; e.g, family, pay, location, routine, quality of life, impact, and the list goes on and on.
However, I draw the line when fear, safety, the difficulty of a transition, and indifference are the leading factors.
Yes, changing jobs is risky and recessions suck. But, and I’m keeping on the ThinkWarwick Idiom Express here, you’ve worked too damn hard in your career to put all of your eggs in one basket, especially when your economic eggs are held by the near-death grip of geriatric politicians and corporate bastards running this country. Yeah, whoops. Sorry about it.
Protect Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
For those executives up to the challenge, it’s time to act from a position of strength.
Yes, kickass in your current role and navigate your situation with poise. However, protect yourself and your career by dusting off your resume, picking up the pace on networking, and creating new opportunities for yourself—even if you have no intentions of moving forward with them right now.
In short, do your job but diversify your opportunities and protect your family for whatever the future may hold. Then, you’ll thank yourself later when you have a headstart on the competition.
AND: If you are actively pursuing a new role, fight tooth and nail in your negotiation for a parachute deal. Make it a severance of at least six months. If a company is going to lure you away from your current role with the promise of greener pastures, protect yourself and your family.
And if you’re a total badass, ask them to vest all of your stock on day one with a 10b5-1 plan.