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“If a rock falls and hits the guy standing next to you…”

September 24th, 2008

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune yesterday asks “why do employees who survived downsizing still consider changing jobs?”

Michael Jalbert, president of recruitment firm MRINetwork, responds:

If a rock falls and hits the guy standing next to you, general wisdom is that you’re not standing in the right place.

Yep, sounds right to me.  I would definitely move (try not to think about that example too much, though, as it would be pretty gruesome and bloody!).  Jalbert continues:

When your job is your sole source of income and there is a possibility you’ll lose it on a moment’s notice, you tend to look for a safer place to be.”

True again. Sad that we trust our job, which is so very unsecure, to be the sole source of income.  How crazy is that!

This post is sponsored by Kim Batson, of Career Management Coaching.  Kim specializes in helping C-level and senior technology executives (I’m sure she’s helped hundreds of people move from the “falling rock zone”).  From her website, “Having reviewed thousands of resumes, Kim has solid experience in powerful, result-oriented executive resumes and personal branding that produces results.”  Kim Batson is a JibberJobber Career Expert Partner.

6 Comments »

6 responses to ““If a rock falls and hits the guy standing next to you…””

  1. Pete Johnson says:

    Hmm, not necessarily. I think it’s more correct to say that if a rock falls and hits the guy standing next to you, look up to see whether or not there are more rocks falling.

    While never pleasant, downsizing isn’t necessarily a sign that your company is in trouble. It might be, but it might also be a corrective action for an organization that has become overloaded with too many people doing the same thing. Survive such a cut and you can wield more influence than you did before.

    The 24,000+ cuts HP just announced as part of the EDS merger isn’t a sign of an unhealthy organization. Instead, those cuts are part of an acquisition is removing duplicate function to achieve better economies of scale. While not all downsizing is the result of a merger like this, just because it is happening doesn’t mean that the result is less safe.

    That’s why you look up. That rock that hit that other guy may well be a sign, but if you look up and there aren’t any more rocks falling you could still be OK. It’s a sign to look out for yourself, which may or may not mean you seek shelter elsewhere.

    —Pete

    Pete Johnson
    Hewlett-Packard Company
    Portals and Marketing Solutions IT Chief Architect
    Work email: pete.johnson@hp.com
    Personal email: pete.johnson@nerdguru.net
    Personal Blog: http://nerdguru.net

  2. Bob Stewart says:

    Rocks do sometimes fall from MRINetwork. Take a look at the facts about the business practices of MRINetwork on http://www.cdicorp.info and form your own opinion on the ethics and busines practices that they have demonstrated for years. For years they represented someone as one of their franchised recruiters when his franchise contract had expired yearsearlier and he was in serious and mounting debt. There is much more detail, read the facts……

  3. I’m with Jason on this. Layoffs at a company don’t mean you have to slam the door, but it sure means you want to be sure your bases are covered, your resume is ready, your network of contacts is healthy, and you have copies of all the information you need like your personnel file, contact database, and annual reviews. At the very least, if a company is restructuring you should be ready to be mobile internally, if not fleeing the scene of the crime.

    In rockfall metaphor, it means looking up to see what else is coming, and getting ready to duck, run, or hunker down under something — not running blindly into more falling rocks.

  4. Jason Alba says:

    @Pete – sounds like the real advice is “look… don’t just close your eyes and hope nothing happens to you…”

    @Bob – I have no idea what MRI is doing – the quote is good and relevant. What you bring up is something I don’t intend to get into.

    @Sophie great ideas on what to do, and now we all agree :)

  5. I think that the loss of employees is always a blow to morale, too, so that one-two punch of lowered morale and job insecurity combines to create a strong motivation to look for another job.

  6. I agree with everybody. How’s that for clarity?

    These are truly scary times. However, I think there could still be reasons to actually stay with a company when things appear to be falling apart.

    Agree with Pete that downsizing doesn’t always mean the company is a bad place to be for everyone. It’s a great time to pick up some new skills, scary as it might be. Wrote this a few months ago when Bear Stearns collapsed: How to Keep Learning As Your Company Falls Apart

    Also touched on this yesterday when I wrote about career bailouts. Things may be rocky for a long time and I think the last place you want to be in rocky times is in a job you hate.

    So if a rock falls and hits the guy standing next to you… you might want to start asking – “why am I here in this career or job I hate, when I could be hit by a big rock at any time?”