Episode 109 - Will the “Great Resignation” Affect my Job Search?
How will your job search be affected if so many people are resigning and you’re unemployed? Will you have more competition? Are there going to be more vacancies and better chances for you from now on? Let’s discuss this at the micro-level to understand what the current global shift in workforce dynamic means for professionals working in the corporate, nonprofit, and public sectors.
Last week’s episode - How long does it take to find a new job (episode 108) had one of the highest download rates of this show, if not the highest. I think it hit a chord with you and other listeners because so much is being said about the great resignation, and I felt it was an essential metric that professionals need to consider as they make plans to resign if that’s what they want to do.
If you haven’t listened to that episode, it’s number 108, and I will add a link to it in the show notes.
When did the Great Resignation start?
The term Great Resignation was likely coined by Anthony Klotz, a professor of management at Mays Business School of Texas A&M University. In an article written in May 2021, he predicted this mass exodus was coming. Since then, many articles, blogs, podcasts, and videos followed with catchy titles such as “Quit your job!”
I reacted strongly against this trend that many coaches adopted, of incentivizing professionals to quit. In fact, I recorded a podcast episode (89) titled Don’t quit your job, where I discuss strategies to enable you to manage your current job while you look for another. I will add the link to the show notes as well. I found that hopping on the bandwagon of the quitting job trend as a career coach was self-serving and frankly dangerous for my audience.
There are several steps that a professional needs to consider before making such a big career decision, such as quitting a job. This is because you shouldn’t change one considerable stress (aka having a lousy job) by another (aka not having a job).
So what is the Great Resignation, and where is it happening?
The Great Resignation is the ongoing trend of employees voluntarily resigning from their jobs, from Around May 2021 to the present, primarily in the United States. The spike in resignations has been characterized as happening in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The truth is they may have been affected by many things. For example:
Wage stagnation vs. the rising cost of living;
Professionals feeling overworked;
Unable to juggle homeschooling during the lockdown and work;
Employers asking employees to come back to the office, and employees not willing or wanting to do so;
Stress, mental health issues caused or exacerbated by the pandemic; and
Few resignations during 2020, resulting in a significant spike of resignations happening when professionals felt safe to do so as the economy normalized after the big lockdowns. Resignations were at an all-time low at the beginning of 2020 when the pandemic hit. Then it went back to normal levels towards the end of 2020, and from then on, it just kept going up and up.
Is it affecting all countries?
The Great Resignation seems to be a global phenomenon, occurring in several countries, from China to Germany. The trend happens once lockdown measures and the worst of the infection is over, and the economy starts recovering. For that reason, Gartner believes that in Australia, where I am based, the Great Resignation will hit around March 2022 since we’ve been in lockdown the longest. It’s hard to predict, but it may not hit Australia as hard as it did in the US.
I’ve been unemployed for months. Will I have more competition now?
There are two ways of looking at it:
1. There could be more candidates in the market. But maybe not as much as you think.
Professionals resigning are not all trying to find another job, and some are actually inactive and out of the labor force. Professionals resigning are not only looking for another job, and some are downsizing their careers, looking to work fewer hours, and hoping to live more flexibly. Tim Ferris came up with this concept over a decade ago when he wrote the best-selling book The 4-Hour Week. More and more professionals, myself included, have opted for a different lifestyle.
My concern is that flexibility and income generation are not easy to implement. Being a freelancer, having a portfolio career, or a small business is more complicated than looking for another job. Not everyone has the financial means and risk appetite for it. It doesn’t suit everyone, but we only leave once, and it may be that you need to try it out, get it off your system, and find out if it suits you or not. And it seems, a lot of people have decided that now is the time to try.
At the time this article was published, the unemployment rate in the US had not changed much - people leaving the workforce and not counted as unemployed.
2. There will be more jobs available because of the vacancies. But maybe not in your area.
In some areas, there are huge demand and huge problems filling in vacancies. Other areas may see companies using this opportunity for savings and testing new business models. This is all pretty new to everyone, and even research companies like Gartner are working on assumptions that are hard to forecast because we haven’t had a phenomenon like this before.
But the fact is that attitudes will need to change if employers need the talent to step into critical roles. Some will need to better accept transferable skills and develop better training and develop to onboard future employers. This could also mean companies adopting automation and artificial intelligence to replace workers doing tedious and repetitive tasks. And most importantly, This could be a new era that profoundly changes the dynamic between employee and employer, where employees feel confident about asking for better pay, more flexibility, and more interesting roles.
It’s possible that the great resignation may help you find a better job. When I coach, I explain to my clients that the most important tactic is to keep your eye on the ball at all times. You can be aware but not distracted by the environment. The issue is, do you have your eyes on the ball? And do you know what your ball is?
If not, it’s essential to find out right away.
Resources mentioned in this episode
Transcript of this episode
Renata: If so many people are resigning and you're unemployed, how is that going to affect your job search? We do have more competition are there going to be more vacancies and better chances for you from now on. Let's discuss this at the micro level to understand what the current global shift in the workforce dynamic, which we have decided to call the great resignation or the great quit, means for professionals working in the corporate, nonprofit, and public sectors.
INTRO: Hi! I’m Renata Bernade, and this is The Job Hunting Podcast, where I interview experts and professionals and discuss issues that are important for job hunters and those who are working to advance their careers. So make sure that you subscribe and follow, and let’s dive right in.
Renata: If so many people are resigning and you're unemployed, how is that going to affect your job search? Will you have more competition from now on? Are there going to be more vacancies and better chances for you? Let's discuss this at the micro level to understand how the great resignation, this amazing current global shift in workforce dynamic means for professionals working in the corporate, nonprofit, and public sectors.
Last week's episode #108 named how long does it take to find a new job, had one of the highest download rights of this show. If not the highest, I have to double-check. I think that it hit a chord with you and all the listeners because so much is being said about the great resignation. And I felt it was an important metric that professionals needed to consider as they make plans to resign if that's what they want to do. So in last week's episode, number #108 about how long it takes for someone to find a new job, we discussed that metric, by weeks and we made projections and changes to adapt the government numbers to professionals, executives, and people working in the corporate nonprofit and public sector. So I explain how I discussed that too with my clients, and we make pragmatic but also successful plans for their job search. So, if you haven't listened to that episode, this #108, and I'll have a link to it in the episode show notes below, or you can just find it in your favorite pet podcast app.
But this week, we are here to talk about the great resignation because the great resignation may very well impact that metric the duration of the time you spend searching for work. And the reason why I decided to record this episode is because I know a lot of executives who have been unemployed for quite some time. I know executives, clients of mine, prospect clients, listeners of this podcast that have been unemployed for quite some time. And the prospect of having more people joining them is stressful, especially if you have been unemployed for a while, and then you don't really understand if those vacancies are going to be beneficial for you. So we're going to discuss all of that today.
The term, the great resignation was most likely coined by a professor of management from the Texas university called Anthony Klotz doing an article where he was interviewed, and I'll put a link to that article into show notes cause I think the article is very interesting and it's discussing, how you should ask or how you should go about resigning from your job if you've been working remotely, so it was all about the etiquette about resigning. So it wasn't so much about identifying the trend, but just understanding that us people came out off the heights of the lockdowns in the United States, they may want to resign, and how would you do it? The journalist interviewed Anthony Klotz for this article, and that term was coined.
From that point onwards, many articles, blogs, podcasts, episodes, videos followed along the same lines of quitting a job, and I fact reacted very strongly against that trend that was adopted by many coaches back in 2020 early 2021, and in fact, I recorded an episode it's #89 and the title is don't quit your job. Because at that time, so many coaches were writing about, oh, you should quit your job, quit your job now and this and that. And I felt that it was very self-serving, and frankly, I find that very dangerous for my audience. I didn't want to hop into that bandwagon of suggesting that the quitting job trend was one that everybody should hop on. I don't think that career coaches should be doing that. I think career coaches should be making sure that audiences and clients take the several steps in the lead up to that big call to make sure that they, not going to change one stress of having a bad job by another stress of not having any jobs. Working with clients that have been in long-term unemployment, it’s really important for me to make sure that nobody goes through that if they don't have to. And it's really important to be careful financially, and also with your personal health, when you're making those big decisions. So I recorded that episode it's 89. don't quit your job, where I discussed strategies that would enable you to manage your current job, even if you hate it while you look for another one, and that's still something that I talk about all the time with clients.
So what is the great resignation, and where is it happening? The great resignation, also known as the big quit, is an ongoing trend of employees voluntarily resigning from their jobs. And it started around May this year, 2021. And it's still trending, and it's still going up and up. And what does that mean? That it's still trending. It means that resignations in 2020 took very big deep, so nobody was resigning in early 2020. Everybody was staying put, which is what people do when they're faced with a big crisis. They don't want to rock the boat. So everybody stayed in their jobs, and if you look at the graph of resignations in the US, nobody was resigning back then. And then it went back into normal resignation rates around the end of 2020. And instead of stabilizing at that level, it just kept going up and up, and it's still going up. Yes! It's a phenomenon; it’s happening people are resigning, and they are all types of workers, from senior level to factory level, everybody, it has no exact trend by sector or profession it seems to be, very global and all encompasses. So we're going to talk about global as well in a moment. I'm going to stick to the American trend for the time being because that's where we get most of the data.
The resignations have been characterized by professionals responding to the COVID pandemic for sure. Some of the reasons why people have resigned, lie of course, in deeper, more sort of long-term issues that have happened in the world, in Australia, in the US specialty, I can speak for myself and for my clients. Wage stagnation vs. rising cost of living has always been problematic, and us professionals during the lockdown felt really overworked, unable to juggle homeschooling during the lockdowns with their work,employers asking employees to come back to the office after the big lockdowns, and then the employee is not willing, or maybe not being able to come back because of kids and still at homeschooling or other issues people having family members that were sick with COVID, there's also stress and mental health issues that were either caused by COVID pandemic or exacerbated by it. So all of that and the accumulation of time during 2020 and the beginning of 2021 where they were very few resignations meant that a lot of people started resigning all at once when life started to go back to normal, and that's when resignation spiked and kept going up and up in trend.
So this is information that we have from the United States, is it also affecting other countries? We don't have as much good data from other countries, but we have enough data to show a trend and a correlation with what's happening in the US, and it seems to be occurring in several countries from China to Germany there is bits of information that showcases that there are more resignations now than before that they seem to be correlated with the COVID pandemic, and the trend seems to hit a country once lockdown measures and the worst of the infection is over and the economy starts to recover. So when people feel like it's safe again, and they can make decisions a bit more in the long term and not just in the short term, that's when people are resigning. For that reason, Gartner, a research company, believes that Australia, where I'm based, will have a great resignation hitting it around March 2022, and that's because we've been in the longest of lockdowns the country still pretty much closed to the outside world. However, it's hard to predict even for Gartner, how it's going to affect Australia and if it's going to be as hard as in the US governor, doesn't think it's going to hit us as hard as in the US, but if it does happen, it will be around March.
So if you've been unemployed for months, will you have more competition now? Well, there are two ways of looking at it. You may think there are more candidates in the market, and that may be true, but some people are actually inactive, and they're out of the labor force all together. They're not just resigning from their jobs; they’re resigning from the way that they have worked in the past. Some are calling it downsizing their careers, but there's definitely a trend towards freelancing, working fewer hours every week, living more flexibly, living remotely, and not being in the major city areas anymore. Tim Ferris, who wrote a famous book about working four hours a week, came up with this concept over a decade ago, and more and more people, myself included, have opted for a different lifestyle. My concern is that it's not easy to implement that different lifestyle. Being a freelancer having a portfolio career or a small business, like I do. I have a coaching business. It's much harder than it looks it's much harder than looking for another job that you know how to do. It doesn't suit everyone, but we only live once, and it may be that you need to try it out, get it out of your system and it may suit you. It may be that it fits your lifestyle and your abilities. Sometimes we want a different life spot style, but do we have, sometimes we want a different lifestyle, but do we have the skills and the resources, the financial resources as well? The runway that you need to implement something new it can take months, if not years, To turn it around and make it successful for you. Not everyone has the financial means and the risk appetite as well for it, that requires different type of personality.
So the change may be bigger than just getting another job. And in fact, an employment rate in the United States at the time of this recording hadn't changed much due to the great resignation. That means that people are leaving the workforce and not being counted as unemployed so if you're worried that there will be more people competing with you, think again. And you have to listen to what I'm saying, but also analyze what happens in your own area of expertise, in your own country, it could be that people are just swapping jobs, it could be that in your area of expertise, there will be more supply than demand. And is this all, I can only give broad-brush information, and of course, I'd love to work with you as a client so that we can understand exactly what's happening in your neck of the woods. But the change may be bigger than just getting another job. That's for sure. An employment rate being still pretty much the same as showing that people are exiting the labor force or they're taking a break. And who could blame them if they've been overworked and stressed and taking care of kids at home, doing coverage, they might just want a break and then come back into what we call frictional unemployment at the time you spent between jobs next year, early next year, which wouldn't be a bad idea.
So the other way of looking at this is, there are more jobs available now because people are living their jobs and therefore there are more vacancies, and therefore I have a better chance of getting a job.
In some areas, there are huge demand and huge problems feeling in vacancies. I know that here in Australia, the fact that there are international borders are closed is a huge deal for many types of industries from hospitality and retail to really advanced manufacturing and research and development.
There are no skilled workers to fill in specific jobs, or sometimes there is just no work. Cause at all. Skilled or unskilled. But in all the areas. There may be companies using this opportunity to save money and also to test new business models. So they may start looking at okay; if we're losing people, are we going to stop, continue to operate in this way? Are we going to continue to grow in this market? Companies may use this as an opportunity to review their models, and they should. I think it's important that they should, because if more people want to be freelancers and have a portfolio career, you may have to decide how you're going to bring in the talent that you need, and it may be in a completely different way. So we need to start using foresight, not just forecast. To understand how we're going to continue to operate us companies and how that relationship between employer and talent is going to continue. Yes, there may be more vacancies for you, but they could also just disappear altogether. Again, one more reason for you to do your own research or engage somebody to support you is like a coach.
So what are you seeing in your neck of the woods? I would love to hear from you if you're a subscriber to my newsletter, and, you'd listen to this podcast, go to your inbox and write back to me. Let me know what you've experienced. Have you noticed more jobs advertised, more competition? This is all pretty new to everyone, including myself, and even research companies as big as Gartner are working on assumptions that are hard to forecast because we haven't had a phenomenon like this ever before. But the fact that I am doing so many episodes on portfolio career professionals is really telling. I do episodes on demand. So I see what people are listening to, I see what people are responding to, and then I do more of that. So next week, for example, in episode #110, I'm interviewing a guest who has been working as a senior executive in the portfolio and advisory roles for quite some time. So, if you haven't yet subscribed to the job hunting podcast on your favorite app, please do so you don't miss that great episode. If you love the show, remember to live at a review and a rating on iTunes. And if you want more advice from me, subscribe to my weekly newsletter and also consider talking to me.
Having a conversation with me and, deciding if you would like to engage a coach. To work with you in the future and help you with your job search and your career plans. That's it for this episode; I hope it has helped you. And I hope that the great resignation affects you in the right way and the positive way. And I can't wait to see what 2022 will bring for us. It's very exciting.
Bye for now.
About the Host
Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach professionals (corporate, non-profit, and public) the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress.
If you are an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, if you are looking to find your next job or promotion, or if you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running, then this podcast is for you.
In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, on my website, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients.
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