Twenty-eight-year-old Margaret Davis was making nice money as a writer in the legal department of a big pharmaceutical company in New York.
She liked her coworkers and enjoyed the job on a day-to-day basis — except it was not going anywhere.
The company promised Davis an international assignment, but obtaining the right working papers was a problem. Amid management shuffles, Davis felt lost in the system after four years.
As she approached 30, Davis said, “I didn’t really know there were careers in things that were interesting like interior design. . . . It was never a lucrative career choice. But here in New York I realized it can be.”
A few months ago, Davis left her job with plans to study design. In the meantime, she is working at an art gallery, which she finds much more fulfilling.
Davis is not alone. Sixty percent of millennials, ages 22-32, have changed jobs between one and four times in the last five years, according to State Street Global Advisors.
“While pay is important, it’s clear that millennials won’t stay with companies for money alone,” said David Cruickshank, global chairman of consulting firm Deloitte.
Indeed, despite a rocky job market, 44 percent of millennials would leave their current employer in the next two years, if given the choice, according to a new survey from Deloitte. When asked to look four years into the future, 66 percent of millennials said they expect to have switched employers.
Like many members of her generation, Davis has the requisite side hustles, in her case buying furniture on Craig’s List, fixing it up and reselling it. She also walks dogs for extra cash, and is always looking for new income streams.
According to job website Indeed, millennials ages 18-34 make up the largest percentage of working people who look at other job opportunities. In fact, the younger and more educated workers are, the more likely they are actively exploring new opportunities.
“Personal values have the greatest influence on millennials’ decision-making on the job,” Cruikshank said, while also noting that 61 percent of “senior millennials” – those with higher-ranking job titles – have chosen not to undertake a task at work because it conflicted with their values.
Davis does not have to look far for support. Her 27-year-old boyfriend recently left his job at a private equity firm to take a senior role at a startup coffee company in which his former employer invested. While it is still a finance position, he is also building a broad-based skill set as the company rapidly expands, she says.
Davis has no regrets on taking her own leap of faith: “I want my strengths to add value,” she says. “Before I was just lost in a big mix of a big company.”
Chelsea White’s performance reviews last December were stellar, reinforcing her belief that working as a teacher’s assistant at in a small, specialized classroom with children ages three to five was the right profession for the Orlando resident.
While enrollment had dipped slightly, the 28-year-old was not concerned and found her job to be rewarding.
“I get to work with kids, which I absolutely love, but I also get to have a job that brings some good to the world,” she said.
But the telltale signs were present — the reduction in responsibilities, for example — and the administrators at the small, private school had to cut funds quickly to pay salaries and bills. The rumors of staff cuts quickly became a reality as another popular assistant was let go days before White received her pink slip.
Being let go in December was a humbling experience as White submitted dozens of applications to both public and private schools only to be met with responses of having to wait for the winter term to resume after the holidays before they could consider any applicants.
“I certainly wasn’t expecting to be terminated, yet that’s exactly what happened,” she said. ”The holidays were right around the corner.”
Getting the ax while you’re ready to deck the halls can certainly put a damper on the tidings of comfort and joy.
Why Employers Fire During Christmas…
Firing employees during the holiday season has become less taboo as companies are not as hesitant to fire or lay off unproductive employees when they are faced with rising costs and an uncertain outlook, particularly in certain industries.
“There used to be much more of a stigma about firing or being fired during the holidays,” said Steven Rothberg, president of College Recruiter, a Minneapolis, Minn.-based career website for students and recent college grads. “It still exists, but isn’t the third rail like it used to be. Most employers today believe in the adage that you should hire slowly and fire quickly.”
While the timing might be poor, many companies have adopted this strategy, said Steve Spires, managing director of career services and an executive coach with BPI group, the Chicago-based consulting group.
“A vast majority of organizations run on a calendar year budget and year-end coincides with the need to achieve year-end numbers,” he said. “This often triggers the decision to reduce costs, including people and expenses to meet the budget.”
Most companies fire employees during the holidays to meet budgets, said Marissa Klein, a co-founder of Choice Fashion Media, a New York City-based recruiting firm, who has been laid off twice during Thanksgiving. Remembering that many layoffs are not a personal choice and lean toward being a fiscal one does not lessen the pain of the sting for former employees.
“I think it is a horrible time of year to lose a job,” she said. “My advice in a situation like this is to try and be in the moment and take the time to reflect on what is most important. Accept that your search will be quiet for a number of weeks.”
Unless an employee has committed an egregious human resources issue or severe misconduct, Leon Rbibo, the president of The Pearl Source, a Los Angeles-based pearl wholesaler and importer, makes an attempt to not terminate or downsize anyone in an effort to “keep the holidays enjoyable for our employees.”
“I’ve had the privilege of hiring many excellent and skilled employees over the years,” he said. “However, I’ve also had to let a few people go who didn’t quite make the cut.”
The company tries to stick to its mantra of keeping the holidays an enjoyable time of the year by “intentionally” conducting the majority of evaluations in the beginning of the fourth quarter, said Rbibo. If there are employees who are underperforming by not meeting expectations, then the person has enough time to correct the issue “without creating unnecessary anxiety over the holidays,” he said.
“When it comes to letting someone go around the holidays, we really try our best to avoid a situation like that,” said Rbibo. “Running a successful company does require you to make tough decisions, but I try not to let that human element escape me.”
How to Job Hunt in December
The competition for positions is lower in December, because fewer people tend to lose or quit their jobs, said Rothberg. While job hunting is always stressful, many candidates will find it to be a good time to seek jobs as companies have also determined their budgets for the upcoming year.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re the best candidate out of everyone who may apply as employers rarely actually hire the best candidate,” he said. “All that matters is that you’re the first well-qualified candidate to apply and be interviewed because employers tend to hire the first well-qualified person.”
Spires advises fired employees to take another tactic and recommends that they “do nothing at first – whether it’s just for a few days or even for a few weeks,” he said. “You need this time to take a step back and decide where you want to go as well as to process the emotions that come with a job loss.”
While ramping up a job search is not a bad idea, being proactive means some people are searching for another position before they are prepared.
“You want to be focused in your search and you don’t want any negative emotions affiliated with the layoff to come through as you’re networking or speaking with prospective employers,” Spires said. “In so many of these instances, you won’t have a second chance and the first impression you deliver needs to be the best it can be.”
White learned her lesson quickly and in retrospect confesses that she should have searched for a part-time job during December because the education field rarely hires during the last month of the year.
“Getting terminated around the holidays is a really hard pill to swallow,” she said. “If I had to do it again, I would pick up a part-time job for a couple of weeks and would wait to start my real job hunt in January.”
With Greece nearly certain to default on a 1.6-billion-euro bond payment due June 30, the long-feared prospect of Hellenic financial chaos is just about here.
The nation’s banks closed this weekend, and the government imposed controls of the movement of capital in and out of the country. A Greek referendum is set for Sunday, in which voters will decide whether to accept more austerity or face the prospect of being booted from Europe’s currency union.
1. How bad is the problem?
Greece owes foreign creditors about 280 billion euros, including $242.8 billion to public or quasi-public entities, such as the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and European Central Bank. It doesn’t have the cash to make the interest payment due this week, and the failure to make a deal to restructure and refinance the obligation raises the prospect of an imminent default. The two sides are talking about an 18-billion-euro package to refinance some of that debt.
Greece’s private creditors took a write-down of about 75 percent on debt owed to them in 2012, but the public entities have resisted a similar move.
2. Why have talks broken down?
The so-called Troika of the IMF, ECB and EC are looking for a combination of spending cuts (the most politically sensitive of which are to pensions that function as the Greek equivalent of Social Security) and tax increases. Greece’s top tax rate of 42 percent already applies to annual incomes as low as 42,000 euros. In addition, the nation has a value-added tax of as high as 23 percent, and Social Security taxes are also much higher than in the U.S. The country is already having huge problems collecting taxes it is owed. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, pointing to the nation’s 25.6 percent unemployment rate, argues that Greece can’t handle more austerity.
3. What did the government do this weekend?
Greece’s anti-austerity Syriza party called for an election, hoping voters would back its push to get creditors to back down. It also imposed so-called capital controls to halt the flight of money out of the country and closed banks for a week.
While most domestic transactions are little affected, there is a daily cash-withdrawal limit of 60 euros, and international transactions are subject to approval. Greek banks had been reporting a sharp decrease in deposit balances since at least April, cutting into the banks’ ability to meet their own international obligations. Europe has also been helping Greek banks with a program called Emergency Liquidity Assistance, but Goldman Sachs economist Huw Pill said Sunday that the assistance could end early this week as the rest of Europe tries to cap its total exposure to Greece.
“Although the Greek government has repeatedly stressed that this is not a referendum on Greece’s euro membership, we believe that in practice it is,” IHS Global Insight economist Diego Iscaro wrote Monday. “In the event of a ‘no’ win, Greece’s euro zone membership will be seriously jeopardized. The creditors are unlikely to change their position markedly, and it would be impossible for the Greek government to accept the current proposal after being defeated by popular vote.”
4. How will the mess affect the markets in Europe and the U.S.?
European markets traded sharply lower on Monday, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average opened nearly 1 percent lower in New York. But the effect may be short-lived: S&P Capital IQ published a 70-year historical analysis of past market shocks that found events like this produce an average decline of 2.4 percent on the next trading day, which has been recovered in an average of 14 trading days.
“Greece represents less than 2 percent of the EU’s GDP,” S&P strategist Sam Stovall wrote. “By itself, its default or exit won’t upend the EU. … Yet if this drachma drama triggers a market decline in excess of 10 percent, not seen since October 2011, it may be a blessing in disguise. As history has shown, prior market shocks have usually proven to be better opportunities to buy than bail, primarily because the events did not dramatically alter the course of global economic growth.”
5. What happens if Greece leaves the euro or is forced to leave the euro?
Estimates of how little Greek drachmas may be worth are all over the place, from 340 to the U.S. dollar to as little as 1,000 drachmas to the dollar. Even before Greece is (or isn’t) forced to leave the currency union, there is talk of the government meeting its obligations in so-called “parallel currency,” whose value is highly uncertain.
6. Has the IMF’s austerity program worked so far?
No. Austerity has been the rule in Greece since the first debt-restructuring program was approved in 2010. But Greece’s unemployment rate has nearly tripled since, and annual gross domestic product has dropped 100 billion euros, or almost 30 percent. Greece’s slashed spending and tax hikes brought the nation’s “primary deficit,” or deficit before debt-service payments, into surplus territory in 2010. But the program was the equivalent of slamming on the economy’s brakes: Output dropped so rapidly that the primary deficit is now again 2 percent of Greek gross domestic product even with tough controls on spending. That’s not much different than the U.S., but the U.S deficit as a percentage of output is declining because the U.S. economy Is growing.
7. What does this mean for Greek tourism?
Uncertainty overshadows Greek tourism. And the stakes of not interrupting tourism are high indeed: Tourism accounts for 18 percent of the nation’s economy and employs a quarter of its workers, according to the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises. Greece attracts as many as 17 million annual visitors, twice the nation’s population, and is virtually the only industry still growing in a nation where an estimated 59 businesses are closing each day.
But already, tourists are reporting difficulty getting cash, because automated teller machines are running out, and the threat of capital controls had some merchants unwilling to accept credit cards. Over time, leaving the euro and devaluing the drachma would lead to a period where Greek vacations should be very cheap for Western tourists.
How long that would last, and the impact it would have on hotels and other merchants, is hard to forecast. But resort owners are resisting creditor proposals to end or curtail their tax breaks for resorts on more remote islands and to raise the value-added tax on lodging.