Changing jobs during COVID-19 and adverse effect of cognitive bias

“A bird in the hand is worth more than a bird in the bush.”


If you have been thinking about making a job change but have been putting off your search due to COVID, you may be wasting valuable time and chances without realizing it.  You may have been approached by recruiters and turned down each opportunity without a second thought because you are still working, and there is the risk that it “may not be a better opportunity anyway.”  This psychological phenomenon is called the Endowment Effect.  This cognitive bias explains how we over-value things that we already have more than we would if it was someone else’s.  Perhaps it is a personal attachment or how we are naturally wired to be loss averse that causes you to think that any future success at your next company is unlikely due to COVID.


Think of it like this: the car that you own constantly breaks down and you hold onto it as long as possible due to your personal attachment with it.  However, you would never buy a different car that has a track record of repairs needed because there are “better cars in the market”. To put it simply:


“If it’s mine, it’s worth more; if it’s yours, it’s worth less.”


As humans, we are also naturally wired to be risk averse. With COVID, you may overemphasize the “catastrophic” risk of the company going bankrupt the moment you join.  Pause and ask yourself this: if the company were about to go under, why would they invest in hiring? Hiring freezes and layoffs are some of the first steps companies make if work is slow, and cash is tight.


Given the mix of cognitive biases, emotional stress, and uncertainty, making the right decision can almost be impossible.  How often have you looked back on your time spent at a certain company and wondered “why did I stay as long as I did?”  The truth is, your perception at the time convinced you to think that being there was not that bad, because it was your situation.  Therefore, the Endowment Effect is not entirely bad since it allows us to have some comfort even though it can have a negative impact on your career, finances, and personal life without you realizing.


It is also very possible that the opportunities you are presented with are not better than your current situation.  The best way to combat this heuristic is to take some time to stop and think, and to remember what you value in your career and goals.  Set aside any thoughts you may have about the potential of an apocalypse destroying any chances of future success.  With a clear head, do your research about the opportunity you are presented with, and imagine yourself in that company.  Keep in mind the Endowment Effect to help you come to a logical decision about your next opportunity.


For the majority, this would be the first time experiencing and adjusting to a life during a pandemic. COVID-19 has resulted in an increased level of uncertainty, overvaluing current adversities, and undervaluing new opportunities. This can easily make a very simple decision of taking a better job opportunity into one of the most difficult in your life.  Clear your mind of all overemphasized risks that may be associated with changing companies and look at your current position objectively.  Doing additional research about your next potential employer can help combat the Endowment Effect and allow you to still reach your goals.


Contact us today to speak with one of our Recruitment Specialists and let us help you build your team with talent today!

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