My good friend Nigel, a 30 year old lawyer (and a good one, at that), hasn't been having the best luck in his career the past few years. He's resigned from several jobs for reasons completely out of his control-like his firm deciding to axe their Singapore office.
While many Singaporeans job hop for all sorts of ridiculous reasons-they didn't like the pantry food, the boss scolded them, they weren't allowed to wear lycra to the office-there are many situations when people do not start looking for jobs when they should. Then they get retrenched or their companies fold, and they wonder what hit them.
Here are four warning signs to look out for, that might signal it's time to start sending out those job applications.
1. There's a change in management or your company is undergoing restructuring or being acquired
A big part of what makes us satisfied and happy at our jobs is the people we work with. It's not an understatement that a great manager can make all the challenges you face at work worthwhile.
In fact, in big companies it's not uncommon to see certain teams having to replace all their employees year after year, while other teams under good managers continue to enjoy high retention rates.
No matter how much you love your job, when there's a change in management, things are not going to be the same. The same goes for any sort of restructuring or acquisition your company might be going through.
When a company goes through such upheaval, you're in danger of being replaced by someone else, or having your job scope or working conditions changed drastically.
Your nice boss might suddenly be replaced by someone who makes you feel murderous the minute you hear his voice. You might suddenly find yourself having to do the job of five people, or juggling responsibilities you never wanted.
2. Your company or industry is going downhill
There are usually some warning signs when a company isn't doing well. Maybe nobody got a bonus this year. Maybe your bosses have been asking everyone to buy their own stationery because, y'know, cost cutting. Or maybe-and this is the biggest warning sign-your pay has been coming in late (or not at all) for a couple of months.
Keep up with industry news as well, because if your industry is going downhill it might be a good time to switch to another. For instance, the property industry has been in a slump for years, and that has resulted in many property agents searching for alternative careers, along with those working in industries related to property sales, like property lawyers and conveyancing secretaries.
3. Your colleagues are leaving en masse
When everyone starts quitting in droves, there's usually a good reason. It signals that there's something very wrong with management, or the team's morale is so low that anyone who steps into the office immediately gets bogged down by the toxicity. It could also mean that the workload is so intense that nobody is sleeping.
You might think that if you're the last man standing, you'll get promoted. But let's just say that will only happen if you manage to survive doing the work of the ten people who quit before you did. Because that's what usually happens to the guy who gets left behind.
4. The company has started laying people off
Some companies are more upfront than others about the fact that they need to retrench people, and will make an announcement or get managers to have a talk with their subordinates early so that anybody who wants to look for work elsewhere can do so. Just as there are people who murder toddlers, there are companies who aren'tquite so nice, and will instead put their staff through a battery of stealth layoffs.
If your company has started getting rid of people, whether openly or stealthily, that's a good sign that retrenchment could be on the cards. Unless this is a job you really really want to keep at all costs or you can afford to be jobless for a period of time, it's a good idea to start sending out job applications before you, too, get the axe.
The article first appeared on MoneySmart.
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