By Paige Rhodes
Chief Executive Officer of the Washington, DC Recruiting Firm
Rhodes & Weinstock
We can’t talk about risk without relating it to our basic internal reward system.
In fact, most of us weigh the pros and cons daily, if not hourly, to negotiate everything from “Should I skip my trip to the gym?” to “Should I date this person?”
When it comes to life-altering career decisions, the risk / reward ratio gets much more complicated, simply because the risk is so high.
Given today’s economic climate, when unemployment is stuck at 9.5 percent and employers are often afraid to hire because they don’t know what the future will hold, the conflict gets all the more difficult to resolve.
From a Recruiter’s Point of View
In my line of work as a recruiter, I get great satisfaction in helping job candidates work through this dilemma. Although it is not my job to tell clients how to value the various risks and rewards they are weighing, it is my job to make sure they are aware of all the possible scenarios, so they can make the best choice possible.
To me, the key is analyzing the pros and cons of taking the risk in today’s economic climate.
But I’ll be honest. With the unemployment rate reaching record highs, the risks and rewards are much different than they were five years ago. Therefore, the advice I give is also different.
The reality: I have a much larger pool of candidates to choose from when I’m trying to fill a position for a client. The clients, however, are being much more selective in whom they choose to interview — and they can be with so many qualified candidates out of work.
I have actually had clients tell me that they don’t want to interview candidates who have been laid off or let go from their previous job due to a reduction in force. They want the people who are still gainfully employed, figuring that most companies are going to find a way to keep their top performers, and those are the employees they want to hire.
How things have changed: Back in 2005, the “superstar” candidates were in high demand and clients were getting creative in order to be competitive so they could attract the best talent — offering signing bonuses, extra vacation time, and even 4-day work weeks.
Should you take the risk? The bottom line, I believe, is that it depends on how unhappy you are. To determine the risk / reward ratio, I ask my clients to consider these three questions.
1. Are you willing to risk upsetting your current employer? Most employers aren’t tickled when they find out their team is unhappy. On the positive side, if you do start interviewing for new jobs, and don’t get them, it can help you because it brings your issues to the forefront so you can open up a dialog to discuss how you might be happier in your current position. Or, you could set yourself up for even more frustration in your current workplace.
2. How important is security to you? Like many of us with older parents, my father-in-law worked at the same company for 35 years. For him, the security of the company, the potential for internal promotion, and the camaraderie of working with people he had grown up with and known for years, outweighed any potential benefits of seeking a job at a different company.
3. Does taking the risk come easily? My sister-in-law has worked at four different law firms in the last 15 years. Each move has resulted in a promotion, pay increase, or some other benefit. Some of the moves were more positive, and others were mixed with benefits and compromises. In total, she says she is happy with each of the moves — but that is because she’s a risk-taker. Are you?
Still want to take the risk? Keep these approaches in mind:
1. Get to know the culture of the firm or company you are interviewing with, and do your best to go beyond the information that is posted on their website.
2. Don’t be afraid to negotiate a high salary. If you are gainfully employed, you have nothing to lose.
3. In any economy, employers are looking for the best people they can find — and want to hire them for the lowest salary and cheapest benefits package they can. Be sure to keep yourself in the driver’s seat.
About Paige Rhodes
Prior to co-founding Rhodes & Weinstock in 2009, Paige Rhodes spent more than 15 years in staffing, human resources, and law firm management.
Throughout her career, she has gained an intricate knowledge of the temporary, temp-to-hire, and direct placement services. In addition to her staffing industry experience, Paige has also spent several years in human resources, and as an HR manager at two large law firms in the DC metropolitan area.
The combination of in-house and outplacement recruiting experience gives her a unique understanding of the hiring needs and concerns of her clients, from large multinational corporations to small start-ups.