askST Jobs: Is it a good idea to change jobs in an economic downturn?

Talents should not embark on a job search only after quitting. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: PEXELS

SINGAPORE - In this series, manpower reporter Tay Hong Yi offers answers to candid questions on navigating workplace challenges and getting ahead in your career.

Q: Is it a good idea to change jobs in an economic downturn?

A: It is not advisable to change jobs in an economic downturn without a firm offer, even at the stage where you are being interviewed for a new role, said Dr David Leong, managing director of recruitment firm PeopleWorldwide Consulting.

A job change, especially during a downturn, should enhance career prospects with higher wages, more learning opportunities, or more room for promotions.

Dr Leong said many employers are taking a pessimistic view of the first half of 2023, if not the entire year.

“There is generally a hiring restraint where resignations are not replaced. Until economic confidence is somewhat restored, the ground sentiments, at the current period until the first quarter of 2023, remain bleak and uninspiring.

“Hence, it is not advisable to leave a job for greener pastures at this time because this is an uncertain and gloomy period,” he said.

However, Dr Leong added that those looking to migrate to a new industry or sector could use this period to take on government-sponsored training and grants to learn new skills with better pay and long-term prospects.

This would allow candidates to hit the ground running, re-entering the job market just when the economy picks up again.

Dr Leong said too many job transitions or long breaks that cannot be accounted for could adversely affect how hiring managers perceive a job seeker.

“The best advice is to curate a career pathway that is progressive, with each transition leading to a better role.”

Mr Sachet Sethi, manager of technology and transformation at recruitment firm Robert Walters Singapore, said leaving a job during an economic downturn is not a good idea.

“So please make sure to do due diligence on what you really want, before you make your next career move.

“Some (job seekers) may be looking for professional growth, and others, a more stable organisation with good financial holdings,” he said.

“During an economic downturn, switching jobs can be a gamble, depending on the (hiring) organisation’s capacity to manage the lull period.”

However, opportunities for economic growth typically follow a downturn, which means securing a new job is best done during this recovery period.

Mr Sethi said the hiring landscape in Singapore seems to remain strong, despite talk of a looming recession.

But job seekers should still consider factors such as the financial backing of the current organisation, along with their current working environment, which determines whether there are good long-term growth opportunities, he added.

Echoing Dr Leong, Mr Sethi said that talents should not embark on a job search only after quitting.

“They should have some potential job opportunities lined up before they make a jump.”

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