My career has been going downhill.
I got my first “real” job in 2007. For six months, I worked as an HR assistant for a big company in Sofia. Then I had several months off work before I came back to work for the same company as a Recruiter for the sales department; got a nice raise, too.
A year and a half later I was still a Recruiter and there was no indication I’d get promoted.
So I went to work for a reputable recruitment agency as a Junior consultant. My basic pay was lower but I had bonuses for bringing new clients and also for successful employee placement. With bonuses, I earned slightly more than my last job.
I lasted six months and then I quit to start my own business – my own recruitment agency.
Another six months later we had to pull the plug and I started looking for work. I wanted to find a job with perspective, but the failed business had left me with a lot of debt – €2500. Beggars can’t be choosers nor waiters, so I accepted the first decent job offer: telemarketing, as in selling computer equipment to corporate clients.
The job was tough and tiring, but it paid well and I also had reasons to hope for a promotion.
But just three months later I got a terrible phone call about a family emergency. Bottom line is, I had to go back to my small hometown and quit my Sofia job.
I came back home when I was 24. After almost three years in the small town, I am now 27. My “career” has not progressed an inch. Do I even have one?
While in town, and while my professional connections were still warm, I received two or three job offers with good pay. I declined them all because they required me to move away again – and that wasn’t an option for me.
I’m not complaining. Not taking the offers was my choice and I made that choice after weighing the pros and cons, long and hard.
But you know, it doesn’t take much for your life to go off-track. I remember how I used to browse applicant CVs and look down on people in their 30’s working assistant jobs. “Why did they let that happen? Why didn’t they put more effort towards their career? We are the masters of our destiny, not the circumstances!”
When you read piles of CVs all day long, the patterns become very obvious. People from average universities usually had their first jobs in average, tiny firms, and when they switched jobs they went to other average, tiny firms. People who started their careers in big corporations like Nestle or Coca-Cola usually moved on to jobs in other big corporations. And those poor young people who never went to college usually worked well-paid, but tough and “dirty” jobs. If they ever got an office job, it was with a shady or low-paying company.
Looking at my current CV, I can’t pretend that I don’t know how limited my options have become. I do very well know how inconsistent it will look to HRs.
But that’s not what’s bothering me. If I really want a certain type of job, I’m pretty sure I’ll get it.
The problem is the price I’ll have to pay. The price of starting over. During recession.
CHANGING JOBS DURING RECESSION ?
It’s hard to adjust when the economy is rolling down.
The business owners I know tell me they struggle to collect due payments from their clients and business partners. At the same time, they are hesitant to go to court because they will lose all future business with the sued party. So they make budget cuts.
This, of course, reflects on the job market. Many businesses are fighting to stay competitive, and the result is they offer lower pay rates and demand longer hours. But the worst part is, I can’t remember the last time someone got promoted.
The opportunity for promotion has always been important to me when choosing between job offers. My college friends often started dead-end jobs because these jobs paid well today. I chose jobs with career opportunities which didn’t pay so well today but offered a better potential for the future.
Unfortunately, right now promotions are not happening often.
I spoke to a young man recently who seemed to have the foundation for a promising career: he had brand-name companies on his resume, very good English, and the drive to make something out of himself. He worked longer hours (as is now required), and he put a good effort in those hours.
Then he got fired.
He had been with the company for less than six months, which of course makes it that much easier for the company to fire him for no apparent reason. And they didn’t give him an apparent reason.
The whole time he talked about it, I kept thinking: “What if it was me?”
Because the company that laid him off was a company I had considered for a potential job switch. It was in a nearby city which I had thought about moving to. The salary he had was about what I needed to start off with.
What if it was me?
Lucky for him, he had his own place and didn’t pay rent. But if I had taken a better paying job in another city, moving would have cost me a lot of money. And if I had lost the job within the first six months, I would have had to either continue to pay rent while looking for another job, OR pack my bags and move back to my hometown, again incurring transportation fees and probably losing a month’s rent as compensation for my landlord.
Is that too chicken of me? I mean, just waiting the recession out and saying “no” to opportunities? Because what if the recession stays for ten more years – in ten years, I would be 37, and it will be too late for me to make changes. (Well it may not be “too late” but it will definitely be much harder!)
I’m sure a lot of people are stressing over those same issues. I imagine having kids, especially little ones, makes things much more complicated. I imagine it’s also tough for young couples, if they are from different towns, to move in together – because that would require one partner to move towns and switch jobs. I imagine a lot of young people would postpone having kids until they have at least some job security or until they build up some savings. And for those who are now graduating from college, it’s not easy to get a job – not with all those experienced professionals running loose and frantic to get a job!
After all, for many people, their lives revolve around their jobs. Their personal schedule revolves around their work schedule. They adjust their lives according to their jobs, not the other way around.
So, I guess that means recession puts a cramp in everybody’s plans about everything.
Does that mean you should put your life on hold?