Why it’s the Perfect Time to Switch Jobs, Especially in Philly

Move on to move up — but consider these things first.

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The economy has been all over the news lately, with the volatile stock market taking center stage. Overall, it’s growing, though not as quickly as we’d like. Job numbers are pretty good, though most on Main Street would agree things could improve.

Here in Philadelphia, there are some promising signs that point to future growth and employment — and it just might lead you to go looking for another gig. But before you do, here are some things to consider.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that hiring was up about 1 percent in the Greater Philadelphia area and 2.2 percent nationwide. And the latest report encouragingly marks four straight years that Philadelphia hasn’t dropped in new hiring. Jobless rates in all 11 Greater Philadelphia counties were lower in June 2015 than they were in June 2013, with an overall 3.6 percent decline in that span.

What does it all mean?

It means our local economy is blossoming. We have thriving industries here and ample room for them (and others) to grow. The Greater Philadelphia area is expansive and near major markets, making it attractive for businesses to relocate. For instance, the project to connect the King of Prussia area to the rail system should help create jobs and generate more business.

Our skilled, high-quality workforce, makes companies look to the Delaware Valley to expand. Current numbers show an 8 percent increase in job listings, and with the recent jump in commercial real estate activity, this trend indicates at least short-term economic growth. The amount of good jobs available reinforce the data. For instance, roles in health care and higher education involving computer systems, data analysis, information security, marketing and business development are plentiful. Plus, with land available for expansion and warehousing, we could see more manufacturers and logistics firms locate here.

The hiring numbers in the Philadelphia area reflect growth, and they have room to improve — and make a pretty strong job market even better. As things pick up, people look to advance by finding new jobs or switching careers entirely. Work transitions usually mirror business growth, which is often a good thing on a macro level. After all, it means companies are hiring!

For those looking to advance or switch careers, I’d be remiss as a financial advisor if I didn’t provide some tips on work transitions since I see them regularly. My advice is financially-based, but incorporates more than money because almost everything in life has an associated cost or opportunity cost.

First, save at least three months of income in a savings account. Ideally, make it six months, but at least three is crucial because this account is the financial cushion for emergencies like a dead furnace or job loss. Have this set before any work transition.

If you’re looking to change careers, make sure you’re passionate about your new job and it has strong market demand. Around here, computer pros are needed in virtually every industry, especially in higher education because there are so many schools in the area.

Sometimes transitions require new training or schooling. If that’s the case, which is likely with big shifts (i.e., painter to accountant), it’ll probably cost a bit — maybe a lot. Saving for school is another topic entirely, but generally, make sure to budget time and money wisely. Consider how long training will take, the expected benefits and costs. The right mix of experience, education and skills can lead to career success, but nobody wants a mountain of debt in exchange.

Health insurance is another important consideration. There are often benefit waiting periods for new hires, so consider a short-term supplementary policy to fill the gap. Make sure to explore coverage options and budget for premiums, copays and deductibles with any health plan. Paid vacation certainly has a clear economic value, but there’s value too in spending time away from work recharging. And of course kids get sick and need trips to the doctor. The point is to evaluate the time off for any job opportunity because it could play a big role in your overall happiness.

Everything mentioned above is what I call “total compensation,” and should be examined in addition to wages. Work transitions can spur huge success, but there’s a lot that goes into them, so diligence is a must. Overall, the signs are positive locally if you’re looking for work or seeking a change. The key is to market yourself and prepare well for the opportunity.

Brooks Stahlnecker is an accredited asset management specialist helping clients throughout Pennsylvania with investment strategies, asset allocation, taxes, estate planning, and regulatory and ethical issues. For more visit stahlneckergroup.com.