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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, April 26, 2010

Workers emerge from survival mode, sniff opportunity

By Anita Bruzzese

As the economy begins to show signs of recovery, the mindset among some employees is beginning to change.

Instead of "hunker down and survive" at their companies, they're now beginning to sniff the air for new opportunities: Is it time to ask for a pay raise or promotion? Or just jump ship for new experiences and more money?

Their interest is further piqued as industries from health care to technology to manufacturing begin to make new hires, and recruiters ramp up their efforts to snare talent. It's what career coach Joe Lavelle predicts will be "a huge musical chairs game" across companies in the coming year.

"There's going to be a lot of people leaving their jobs and taking new ones," Lavelle says.

Lavelle says that while many employees are looking for more money or better opportunities, part of the reason many people will be leaving their jobs is because too many employers should never have hired them in the first place.

"A lot of companies (during the recession) would get 3,000 resumes for one job, so they would look for someone who had exactly the right buzz words on their resume. They didn't hire for the intangibles, and that meant they didn't get the best person for the job," Lavelle says.

Still, Lavelle says the expected employment churn doesn't mean that leaving an employer is the best plan for everyone. He says that as employees move from "job preservation mode" to "career management mode" they should consider several factors. Among them:

• Set goals. "Now is the time to meet with your manager and talk about career growth and what you need to do to get ahead," says Lavelle, author of "Act as If It Were Impossible to Fail," (Results First Consulting, $13.99).

• Try not to overreact. It's tempting to think of starting over somewhere else if you've been doing the work of several people during the past year and are frustrated at your employer's lack of recognition for your efforts.

• Consider a rehire of yourself. "Why can't you create an opportunity in the job you have now?" Lavelle says. "Think about how you can get yourself really going again in your current job.."

• Assess your company's strength. While the thought of joining another company or industry may be appealing, do your homework on whether your current job is actually more stable.

Write Anita Bruzzese c/o: Gannett ContentOne, 7950 Jones Branch Dr., McLean, VA 22107.