It’s widely reported that we’re in the best job market since the 1960s. The stock market is hitting all-time highs and the economy is red hot. If this is really the case, why do I receive a steady influx of telephone calls, emails and LinkedIn messages from experienced professionals who share somber personal stories of being laid off or deathly afraid of losing their jobs in the peak of their careers?
These are highly educated, white-collar professionals with more than 20 years of specialized skill sets. Uncomfortable talking to family, friends and colleagues about their situation, they confide in me with their individual tales of job losses, relocated positions and the inability to find new appropriate opportunities. They are relieved—somewhat—to hear that they are not alone and that a large number of other people are in similar situations. My takeaway from these conversations is that the reporting about the “hot job market” is entirely inaccurate. Yes, there are absolutely pockets within the job market that are on fire, like the need for tech talent in Silicon Valley. For most people, there is clearly not a great demand—especially when you’re past your 40s and earning a living over $100K.
I’m told on a daily basis that they are terminated in favor of junior-level people who earn a fraction of what they are paid. Positions are moved to lower-cost locations and they’re not invited to relocate along with them. For instance, yesterday, I spoke with a banking executive, earning about $225k, who told me his entire division was relocated to a city in an Eastern European country. This is the third move for the group. The first was out of New York City to a less expensive Jersey City then to an even cheaper city in the Southwest. It’s as if companies are playing a live-action board game with our lives. They move the pieces, which are real-life human beings, to a lower cost place. When a better deal is found, the companies shift the pieces once again. This pattern continues so global corporations can dramatically bring down the costs of their human capital—a buzzword for human beings who work for the company. The gentleman I spoke with surmises that the bank is paying the people in Eastern Europe about 80% less than what his group earns in the United States.
This is all happening while we’re in a strong economy. If you are a student of the stock market and economy, you’ll know that trends always change. There won’t be an upward trajectory forever. There will be a time when the job market, economy and stock market cool down and hit a recession—or worse. I’m not being negative; that’s just the nature of business. You can look at the stock charts of any top company, like Amazon or Facebook, and you’ll see patterns of great growth and times of severe pullbacks in the share price.
What do you think will happen when the music stops and everything starts trending downward? If experienced professionals are having challenges now, imagine how hard it will be in an overall bad market. You need to be prepared. My strong suggestion to you is to have a “Plan B.” This is a game plan to be prepare for any potential future emergencies.