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How An Improved Economy Can (and Should) Affect Your Job Situation

January 31, 2011 · 35 comments

in Personal Finance, Work

The recession has been declared as ‘over’ for a while now.  Restaurants are hopping, sales are picking up, and some companies seem to be opening up their budgets again.

Does this new booming economy affect you in ways other than making you wait longer for a table at Red Lobster?

Well, it could, if you wanted it to.

Total compensation was reduced for many people during the recession.  Not only did some people have their salaries cut, but some got their vacation days reduced too, and many health benefit packages became more expensive.  The general message from the company was “hey, you have a job, consider yourself lucky.  Now, crawl back to your cubicle and make the company some money!”.   However, with the economy starting to improve, the employee may be starting to get a little leverage.

The state of the economy varies greatly based on where you live.   Employees in Silicon Valley probably have more power than those in Detroit.  Regardless of where you live, I am not saying you should go stomping into the boss’s office and say “give me a raise or I walk”.   What I am recommending is that you really sit down and evaluate your situation.  Have you gone a long time without a raise?  Has your pay been reduced?  Is the company you are working for doing well financially and starting to hire?  If so, it may be time to start preparing a case for why you deserve more money, especially if you are a rare commodity.  You have to present good reasons as to why you should get more money; it can’t just be “I haven’t had a raise in 2 years”.  Quantify your accomplishments.  Saying “I managed a group of four people” doesn’t mean as much as “I was responsible for $3,000,000 worth of revenue last year, which added $450,000 to the company’s bottom line, all during a recession”.

If you are bored with your job, maybe now is the time to start thinking of making a job change.  Consider talking to people you know that work at companies you think you might like to work for.  Think about reaching out to a trusted recruiter. Become active in LinkedIn and other networking sites.  Make sure your Facebook page would not scare off prospective employers.  Put yourself ‘out there’, but be discrete, as you don’t want your current employer to know you are ‘on the market’.

The bottom line is, you don’t necessarily have to accept being undervalued anymore.  Many companies that were even thriving during the recession took advantage of employees just because they could.  Hopefully the tables are starting to turn a little bit, and employees will start to be able to advocate for themselves.  One thing that can happen when a company has the upper hand for a long time is the employee can start to doubt their own value to the workforce in general.  Do not let that happen to you!  Just because the economy suffered doesn’t mean that you aren’t as smart or valuable as you were a few years ago.  Look at your skill set and market yourself with confidence.  Companies love when employees feel beaten down and grateful for their job.  You are better than that!

How does the job market seem where you live?  Do you see more job opportunities becoming available?  Are you thinking of making a career change?

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Roshawn @ Watson Inc January 31, 2011 at 6:41 am

Very interesting points Kris.

I do agree that we don’t have to accept being undervalued. It does take some strategic-planning and considerable discretion if you are planning on leaving a job. Unfortunately, I know people who have gotten fired for not exercising appropriate caution during their job search. It always appears easier to get another job while you are already employed though.

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Kris January 31, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Shawn, you are right, you do have to be incredibly careful when you go on a job hunt. Sometimes the best thing to do is just keep your ears open even when times are good for better opportunities.

I do think it is much easier to find another job when you already have one, unfortunately for those that are unemployed.

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Invest It Wisely February 2, 2011 at 11:36 am

I agree about being careful and discreet. If your company is already on the rocks it might be worth it to go all-out, but if it is really a case of just wanting to go on to greener pastures, then gotta be careful. In my industry people are “supposed” to switch every 3 years lest they become stagnant, so this is something I need to start thinking about soon… but seeing as how I just bought a place and have a lot of expenses, now’s not the best time. 😉

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Kris February 2, 2011 at 4:48 pm

People have to remember that the grass is not always greener either.

There is a big difference between keeping your eyes and ears open, and full fledged looking for a job (to the point where you take time off from your current job to interview for your prospective job). Some industries are very small, and work sure can travel quickly.

It is funny how some industries can indeed be somewhat ‘transient’. I know some people who have never left their job with GM, and then there are people (one of who I live with) that has changed jobs frequently, but always for better opportunity.

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Molly On Money January 31, 2011 at 8:23 am

I think I was an exception in these economic times. I switched jobs twice in the last two years. Luck had a lot to do with it. At job #1 when they started cutting back on our benefits I started looking and found a new job. As soon as I went job #2 the owner starting cutting back (not because she needed too but because she could say, ‘we’re in an economic downfall!’. After 6 months and a salary cut I left. At job #3 I’m happy and making a fair wage with benefits that are meaningful to me. Both job #1 and #2 I made significant cuts to the budget to help get through the tough times. Unfortunately the owners felt it was an opportunity to get rid of ‘fat’ salaries and benefits they claimed their employees did not appreciate. I just don’t get it!

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Kris January 31, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Molly – you were smart to keep your eyes and ears open for alternate employment! I totally agree that many employers took advantage of the economy because they knew employees didn’t have many other options. I am so curious to see what happens to some of these companies once the economy really opens up and people are able to find other jobs.

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Moneycone January 31, 2011 at 8:59 am

I definitely see a positive change in the job market. More companies are hiring and benefits are slowing being raised.

Of course, doesn’t mean we are out of the woods yet, but there are more opportunities now than before. For those looking for a change, this might be a good opening.

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Kris January 31, 2011 at 6:56 pm

I agree, now is when I think people should at least perk their ears up so they know what is going on in the marketplace. Many people have been greatly taken advantage of by some companies during this downturn. It never hurts to at least be aware, and keep an updated resume.

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101 Centavos January 31, 2011 at 9:10 am

The number of job openings at our company has increased, to deal with increased volume from overseas projects. This is the trend with oil and gas related industries. But as you said, it depends on regional differences. In areas like the southwest, where housing construction created its own markets, it might be unwise to make a switch just for the sake of a short-term bump in salary.

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Kris January 31, 2011 at 6:58 pm

It is very situational for sure. But I do think it is a good idea to be prepared in case something better presents itself.

Glad things are doing well in your industry!

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Squirrelers January 31, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Good post, I especially like the part about not letting your self confidence take a hit just because of the recession and the psychological effects of the employee suply/demand situation. Our skills and talents didn’t get impacted by the recession, just opportunities.

Here in Chicago, there’s a bit more hiring than a year ago, but layoffs are still occuring. I know a few people that got let go this year already. There’s a ways to go when it comes to the employment situation.

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Kris January 31, 2011 at 6:53 pm

We have a long way to go up in Detroit too, but I am seeing some signs of improvement.

I have known many people that just stayed in their job because they felt they wouldn’t be able to get a job anywhere else. Some companies can really almost brainwash you. You are right, the talent is still there and people should not forget that.

Be careful during the snowstorm tomorrow!

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krantcents January 31, 2011 at 1:05 pm

I am in a unique situation, as a teacher nearing retirement. I can not leave, ask for a raise or do anything! My fate is in other people’s hands. I do have opportunities to earn extra money, I am appreciated because of my good work and I enjoy what I do. Crazy? Perhaps!

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Kris January 31, 2011 at 6:51 pm

That is not crazy at all. If your pay is predetermined then you at least know what you are getting on to. Teaching is a wonderful profession and I am sure it can be very rewarding. It sounds like you are right where you want to be, and that is great.

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DoNotWait January 31, 2011 at 1:15 pm

I changed jobs a couple of times during the last 3 years or so. Always for better though and with the feeling I would learn something new. It is not only for a pay raise, but more about being happy in what I am doing as well as having a better quality lifestyle. Never undervalue yourself as an employee but also as a person.

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Kris January 31, 2011 at 6:48 pm

You do raise a good point, a job is not just about money.

That is impressive that you were able to find better employment in the down economy. You are obviously doing something right!

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DoNotWait February 2, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Wow, thank’s for the good words! Maybe I am just a lucky person too! 😉

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retirebyforty January 31, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Another indicator is the rush hour traffic jam. Traffic has been getting worse and worse, this mean more people are working and driving to work. I guess it’s one of those good news/bad news thing.
I’m pretty happy with my pay. The thing with asking for more pay is that it usually comes with more responsibilities and more expectations. For now, I don’t want more pay or more work.

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Kris January 31, 2011 at 6:47 pm

RB40, it sounds like you are in a good place then? It is great to be content, and to feel like you are being fairly compensated.

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Nicole January 31, 2011 at 6:42 pm

It sucks to work for a state government.

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Kris January 31, 2011 at 6:45 pm

I assume that is because you don’t have any control over your wages? I assume you get good benefits though, right?

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Nicole January 31, 2011 at 7:58 pm

No, no, because even though the national economy is perking up, states and local governments are not. Unless the federal government can loan (or give) something to tide states over until tax revenues go up, we’re going to be continuing to see salary freezes, furloughs, hiring freezes etc. etc. etc. They’re also making dramatic cuts to education– closing down community colleges, cutting state academic scholarships to students and so on and so forth. In our state police and fire are probably safe for now, but other states and cities/counties are seeing dramatic cuts in those basic services as well. Medicaid and food services are also seeing big cuts… pretty much anything that serves the poor that the states can control is on the chopping block.

And, no, no good benefits ‘cuz I live in the South, y’all. We don’t believe in that socialized government stuff. Not like you commies up North who believe in things like education and state services and feeding kids.

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Kris January 31, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Not so sure things are so great up here in the north. My crazed mayor wants to fire a ton of the police force and close the library, so we have plenty of problems too.

We do feed our kids though, or at least try to. Community college are struggling up here and our governor was to privatize the University of Michigan because of the cost. Things are crazy everywhere I guess.

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Money Reasons January 31, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Possibly, exciting times again! I’ll be happy when unemployment goes down a lot more though!

You are right those this is the time to start looking!

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Kris January 31, 2011 at 10:38 pm

MR- I will totally love when unemployment is at a more reasonable level. But at the same time, I am glad things are starting to improve.

Yes, it is time to start looking for SOME!! 🙂

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Deidre @ TransFormX January 31, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Very good points – All of them!

“Companies love when employees feel beaten down and grateful for their job.” This is so true!!

I am self employed but that just means I have to be even more discrete. I changed contracts earlier this month and boy was that messy! I was discrete, upfront and did not allow the prior company to railroad me. Even so, I’m still dealing with the fall-out regarding that but I am glad I made the decision I did and do not regret it at all.

Sometimes you just have to take a stand!

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Kris January 31, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Deidre- it sounds like you have done a great job taking care of yourself, and you are doing something you enjoy. I am sure the path has not been easy, but so glad you are happy with where you are at.

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Deidre @ TransFormX February 1, 2011 at 12:07 am

Kris – Thanks for the kind words! Being self employed sometimes comes with special challenges but it has been worth it.

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Alphonso February 1, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Super post, I count on updates from you.

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Sam February 5, 2011 at 4:58 pm

We are valued EXACTLY as we are imo. If you feel undervalued, do something about it or move.

There is always the door.

Cheers

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hemen parekh February 11, 2011 at 12:16 am

A Salary-cut is better than a Job-cut !

A survey by the Internal Affairs Ministry of Japan revealed following for year 2009 [ Source : DNA / Oct. 16, 2010 ] :

ï?? Average income of single women [ under 30 ]â?¦â?¦â?¦..$ 2680

ï?? Average income of single men [ under 30 ]â?¦â?¦â?¦â?¦$ 2640

ï?? Increase in womenâ??s income [ over 5 years ]â?¦â?¦(+) 11.4 %

ï?? Decrease in menâ??s income [ over 5 years ]â?¦â?¦( – ) 7.0 %

In most other countries, women are least concerned about catching up or overtaking their male counterparts when it comes to salary.

They are far most concerned about getting a job in the first place !

What about men in these other countries ?

They would happily accept a 25% cut in their salaries to keep their jobs !

With regards

hemen parekh

http://www.CustomizeResume.com

Jobs for All = Peace on Earth

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Dallas April 17, 2011 at 4:45 pm

The lie often goes further than the truth.

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QUALITY STOCKS UNDER 5 DOLLARS March 28, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I would like so very much to comment about career risk along with a few other matters related to employmet and education. The first thing is this I am a fairly intellgent person but I have never been able to develop a concept of what the job market is really all about. Yes I know that theirs jobs that are skilled as opossed to unskilled. But here’s the thing how does one define what skill is for example a janitor is clearly a unskilled job or very low skill job and a dentist with twenty years under his belt is clearly a high skilled job’ but what about everything else in between the two. Someone that drives a van and makes local delveries is clearly not as skilled as someone that drives a eighteen wheeler over the road. But is the job driving a eighteen wheeler really a skilled job or not. What about the head manager of a seveneleven would their job be considered skilled. What about a helicopter pilot. What about a car salesmen compared to a certified auto mechanic. Is the car salesmen considered a skilled job or not. I could go on and on but I think you get the point its much harder to define what skilled is or isn’t. In other words where does one draw the line when it comes to skilled or unskilled.

Another area I would like to comment about is formal education. Yes its true that people with more education make more money than those with less education. But break it down a little bit and its not so clear. If I randomly select 100 college grades and remove the twenty highest paid grades form the list’ I would be willing to make a educated guess that those twenty highest paid grades make as much money as the other eighty combined.

What about this If we take two college students that are identical in almost everyway The same college the same grades the same subjects the same work experience everythings the same between the two of them with one very small exception. One of them is one or two credits short of their bachelors degree. The other completed their education and received their degree. Now its safe to say that the student without a degree is just about equal to the student with the degree. We could say that they both would be just as likely to perform as well in the same job yet the student with the degree would be considered better educated and more likely to be hired and receive more money than the student without the degree’ but really theirs essentially no difference between the two the difference between the two is a just a technicality. In other words the difference between the two is more like a class distinction than anything else.

One other factor to also consider is this the type of person that attends college is more likly to be more intelligent and also more ambitious than the person that graduates from high school and just goes out and gets a job instead of attending college. So at least part of the difference in pay can be attributed to the qualities that I just stated. In other words a person thats very bright and ambitious whether they have just a high school deplomia or a college degree would be more likely to be promoted on the job simply stated bright and ambitious people are more likely to be promoted on the job than people that are not bright and ambisous and most of the people that are not bright and ambitious just attended high school. It just so happens that most people that are bright and ambitious attended college.

The third thing I would like to comment about is this ranking accounts for a significant amount of the pay difference between two individuals. Take to people that both work at two different banks they both attended the same college or university they both have the same years of experience they both took the same courses in school got exactly the same grades the same degree the same sat and act scores. They each have worked at the bank the same number of years. They both have equal experience in the same banking speciality. They both have performed the same tasks. They both do the same amount of work they both have six people working under them. Their job performance review is exactly the same. Everything between the two is equal with one exception Bank employee number one is a senior vice president’ employee number two is a junnior vice president. Banks have always been big on titles. employee number one makes considerably more money than employee number two and its entirly due to the differnt ranking and really nothing else.

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