Submitted by mmcconkie on
BLUF: Is the fear of future layoffs reason enough to start looking for a new position?
Detail: I love the company I currently work for. It's a fairly large company (about 35,000 employees) and has done well historically. About a month ago, we got word that finances were tight, and that we would need to reduce spending by a significant amount. Then yesterday we got notice that we are going to institute a hiring freeze for at least 90 days and evaluate our situation after that to see if the freeze would need to continue. These are major red flags in my mind. My concern is that layoffs could come in the future (though I haven't heard anything saying that directly from leadership). I am fairly junior in this company - an individual contributor who has been here just barely 1 year. Because I am so junior, I worry that in the event of layoffs that I would be a candidate to be laid off.
I'm working on keeping my network warm, and have started to examine my resume again. If I get an interview, and they ask why I am leaving my current company is the fear of layoffs a valid reason? I don't want to come off as being selfish or not being loyal to the company.
If the news is public and you
If the news is public and you know your job is at risk then you have a definite situation and you would be right to take action. In any other situation it think the normal rules apply.
Knowing how your employer would respond if asked may be key. For you i think the most important thing is to demonstrate the rational behind your decision when asked. Also i think it is understandable for you to review your relationship/situation with you current employer at any time and make sure your career plans are aligned to the companies goals.
Whether the company is enjoying good times or enduring bad times, reviewing your career is always a good thing.
You need no reason to keep an eye on the market
The only reason I can think of for not looking for the next position, is retiring from paid work (and thus not having a next position).
Your final question and your post title show you have a common but mistaken belief that looking at other possibilities can only be a full-on search and that it commits you to leaving your current position. "Looking" and "leaving" are very different! It never hurts to have the resume up-to-date and the network warmed even while happily engaged at your primary position. You can step up your "passive scans" of possibilities without actively sending out resumes and scheduling interviews, if you intuit that layoff likelihood is rising and that worries you.
Keep your results up to par (or better) and watch for further developments. Often such freezes and tightenings are effective and soon lifted.
To answer your hypothetical with a reply I gave in one interview. "I haven't left. I'm exploring external possibilities for the next step in my career. Should I accept an offer to shift my primary focus from CurrentEmployerCo, I will contribute in my new role just as I have successfully contributed in previous roles." (I was called back for the next round on that opening.)