Sticking It Out In Tough Times

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In the current market environment, like any other, the decision to leave a company isn't always yours to make. But what if it is? For many senior level employees at global firms, the choice between leaving a sinking ship or sticking it out for the long haul presents many challenges.

First, it's important to consider whether you are up for the task of starting anew and assimilating into a new organization. And, are you prepared to be one of many in your industry looking for work after large-scale layoffs at your firm?

A recent Forbes article cited one example involving a senior marketing executive who stuck it out while her company's stock price fell rapidly. While the company endured rounds of layoffs and cut employee perks, she remained.

In situations such as these, it's more important to consider who's leaving the company than how many are leaving, says Forbes writer Tara Weiss. If the most talented employees are walking, it's a strong sign that those with a stake in the company's growth are pessimistic about its future, even when market conditions improve, Hay Group Global Managing Director Will Werhane told the magazine.

When You Gain By Staying

Yet, at companies that can weather the storm, the decision to stay on can pay off in the long run. During tough markets and cutbacks, companies value problem solvers more than ever. Prove your worth by delivering new clients or streamlining costs. By demonstrating you can develop solutions, or better ways of doing things, you can make yourself indispensable.

It's also critical that you determine the severity of the company's problems. Be informed, both by staying abreast of news and keeping your eyes and ears open internally. Don't necessarily believe rumors. Get the facts by talking to colleagues, and try to get a feel for how the company compares with your competitors. You can even talk to people at other firms in the industry or recruiters who specialize in your field or sector.

The decision to stay on at a company during a downturn can be a fretful one. Nevertheless, these times can be "the most compelling ones for career development," says Tashi Lossalle, vice president at the executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles.

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