Is an Economic Recession a Good Time for a Career Change? - Legally Bold

Is an Economic Recession a Good Time for a Career Change?

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The global COVID-19 pandemic changed every part of “normal” life.  

Vacations, weddings, celebrations, travel in generally → canceled. ????

Visiting friends, going to concerts & sporting events, taking in a movie → on hold indefinitely.????

Dreaming about working from home instead of going to the office → no longer necessary. ????

Everyone is at their computers in sweats, aka “soft pants.”???? ????

Just beneath the surface of those day-to-day challenges is the stress and uncertainty of our economic reality

The United States is officially in a recession. During the first coronavirus-related shutdown, the unemployment rate rose to 14%, its highest rate since the 1930s. Some economists are predicting that unemployment could go as high as 32% once the second wave hits. That means that almost 1 in 3 Americans will be unemployed.  

Despite these numbers, I’m speaking to more and more people who actively are planning to leave their jobs this year. This begs the question – why? 

Does it really make sense to leave your job given our current economic situation? 

Like any good lawyer, my answer is, “it depends.” 

The Myth of The Ideal Worker

Most of the folks contacting me for career help are professionals with skills and experience. By being forced to stay home without distraction outside of work and family, these professionals have more time to think strategically about their careers and research new ways of earning a living. Once they do, they realize that they’ve played the role of the “ideal worker” for far too long and that in the 21st-century economy, that’s no longer required.

The ideal worker model dates back to the Industrial Revolution. It’s the unspoken ideal that most Americans try to live up to when it comes to their career. 

The ideal worker is someone who starts work in early adulthood and continues until retirement. He has a clear and relentless commitment to paid work at all times. Nothing comes before that commitment, especially not the personal facets of life like family, health, and civic or recreational pursuits. 

When women entered the workforce, the “ideal worker” model was upended slightly, but not much. For the most part, women at work are expected to behave like the ideal working man except for the short periods they take off work to give birth. Outside of birth, women are expected to pretend that they don’t have a family, needs, or desires outside of the job either. 

Professionals are sick of working in environments that expect them to be the ideal worker. 

We Can Work Differently

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the world can work differently. Almost everyone is working from home, no matter their industry. So the idea that you have to go into the office simply isn’t accurate anymore.

Additionally, the world is more accessible, technologically sound, and full of more opportunities than most people can imagine. If you are a professional with skills and passion, you can find positions globally that allow you to work from home, string together freelance projects, or travel the world while getting paid. 

Professionals want that. 

Workers are finding that. 

So the idea that you have to stay at your current job and “take it” even during the recession just doesn’t cut it anymore. Unless…

The Caveat is Money…Maybe

The caveat here, of course, comes down to finances. Money is a genuine constraint for us all. We all have financial obligations and want to keep roofs over our heads. So no matter how unsatisfied we are at work, it’s the money that keeps us hooked. 

However, if you are a working professional with a job during the pandemic, it is likely you don’t have the money problem you think you do.

A real money problem means that you have no options to provide for your basic needs and no prospects of providing for them in the future. If you have that problem, you definitely shouldn’t leave your job during a recession. 

In truth, though, many people would not have that problem if they left their jobs today. They might have to give up comforts, sell some things on Craiglist, dip into their 401K, or find some other creative way of paying the bills for a while, but they have options. Those options deserve our recognition and gratitude. Those options also mean that we shouldn’t suffer through years at a job we hate to spare ourselves a few moments of uncomfortability. 

So, Is It A Good Time To Change

If you have a real financial problem, then leaving your job during a recession isn’t a good idea for anyone. But if you’re not there, the best time to take decisive action on anything in your life, including your career, is always now.

Are you considering a career change during this recession?  Take our Stick v. Quit Quiz in the sidebar to find out if you should stick with your job or quit for something else.