Is this a good time to change jobs?

I am an experienced personnel officer and feel I am ready for my first HR
manager role. Given the state of the market, is this a good time to try and
make that move or should I stay put and bide my time?

Jo Selby, associate director, EJ Human Resources

While the market has slowed down, opportunities are still available and are
continuing to come onto the market on a regular basis.

Many organisations are recruiting, but what is apparent is that in the
current climate the majority of the positions are arising as a result of
replacement recruitment as opposed to expansion.

In addition, the recruitment process itself is taking longer than it has
done previously and Christmas is just around the corner.

Having said that, if you feel that you are ready for a new opportunity and
challenge and have made the decision to leave your current employers, if the
right opportunity becomes available there is no reason not to make the move.

However, because of the volume of opportunities coming onto the market, it
may take longer than previously to find the right role, so you will still need
to be patient and bide your time in your existing role.

Register your interest with a couple of well reputed HR recruitment
consultancies and express your interest in first appointment management roles
so that you are in a position to be considered when such an opportunity arises.

Allison Sheard, consultant, Chiumento

It makes sense to be cautious about the next job that you take, but do not
rule out altogether the possibility of moving. If you do so you may be ruling
out the chance of getting a good and exiting career opportunity.

You sound as though you are ready for some more challenges, so why not test
the market and see what is out there?

As an employee, can we ever be sure what is round the corner, in terms of
the organisation we work for? Even when the employment market is good,
companies still restructure, get taken over or relocate.

In this situation, the best that you can do is to thoroughly research the
organisation that you are interested in. Focus on understanding its financial
situation and on reading press comments about it and its market sector.

Use an interview to find out as much as possible about how things are going,
who the main competitors are, what the main markets for its products and
services are, and try to get a feeling for any business issues.

Try to meet as many of the people you would be working with as possible and
gauge their understanding of business issues and of the company situation
versus the competition. If you do not have confidence in the people you have
met to get things right, it may not be the place for you.

At present, some sectors are more volatile than others, with the public
sector less than most, but it is still difficult to make broad predictions of
which offers the most security.

Even if things are not going as well as you might like in an organisation,
if you feel you could be part of the solution to its problems, then this could
be a fantastic challenge.

A time of great change for a business is most often a time of great learning
for the HR manager, so you might be missing a big opportunity if you focus
purely on security.

Try to bear in mind that you have time on your side, so use it to fully
explore your options, rather than letting the current employment situation hold
back your career.

It is worth remembering that even when employers are talking about a
slowdown in recruitment, there will always be a demand for good people.

Margaret Malpas, joint managing director, Malpas Flexible Learning

I suggest that you should apply for roles that not only offer a genuine
change of progression but are with companies or in business sectors which are
least likely to be seriously exposed to economic change.

It is never easy to give advice to people who wish to move during periods of
economic uncertainty as the situation in companies, particularly with foreign
owners, can change quickly. Clearly if you have been employed by your present
company for a "reasonable"’ period of time you have to make a risk
assessment which takes account of your legal employment protection position and
the potential gains to be made with a calculated move elsewhere.

You should be as positive as possible as there are invariably opportunities
for people with good skills and, furthermore, the position with your current
employer may not be as certain as you think.

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