As Market Heats Up, You're Competing with Quitters

Last Updated Jun 16, 2010 4:49 PM EDT

As I've mentioned before, my tenure gathering career insights for TheLadders started just days before the Great Recession mushroomed with Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy. Now, we're all watching how the job market will play out during the current thaw.

One result: Employed folks who opted to ignore job dissatisfaction and hang onto that paycheck in tough times are now entertaining offers. That means that jobless candidates are now competing with increasing numbers of workers who are ready to ditch their current jobs.

The Associated Press reported last week that more people quit their jobs in the past three months than were laid off, breaking a 15-month streak where the opposite was true. Meanwhile, a recent survey by TheLadders revealed that 79.6 percent of our six-figure wage earners count themselves highly likely to leave their current employment soon, citing dissatisfaction with leadership, career path and compensation among the top reasons for the move.

There's a bright side for unemployed job seekers: Some observers suggest that the new openings this churn will create could be unusually hospitable to candidates with lengthy gaps on their resumes. In a column titled "How Tough Times Open Doors," Andrea Sobel proposes that prospective employers are willing to exercise "candidate forgiveness" in light of the tortuous economic path we've traveled.

If you can explain cogently how your unemployment was a symptom of company- or industry-wide conditions and demonstrate that you've used your time between engagements actively honing your skills and strengthening your network, candidate forgiveness could well keep you in the running against job seekers who managed to ride out the worst of the storm from the safety of their desks.

  • Matthew TheLadders

    Matthew Rothenberg is editor-in-chief for TheLadders, the world's leading online service catering exclusively to the $100K+ job market. In addition to traditional job search services, also provides a host of specialized career development resources. Previously he worked at Ziff Davis Media, ZDNet, CNET, and Hachette Filipacchi.