Separating from an organization causes all kinds of personal and professional problems Most issues can be overcome. There are two kinds of terminations: Those that are easily explained away and others that can ruin your reputation or career if not handled well.
All dissolutions from an employee/employer relationship need a special kind of job search strategy. Rather than walking away to a better job, your employer is walking away from you, for a reason. That reason is critical to your career. Here are some solutions.
Ruinous termination. When an employee is terminated “for cause”, it means they have violated a company policy or legal issue. Examples are: Theft, sexual harassment, behaviors that negative actions toward the organization, a felony, or a number of other serious actions. Your income stops and forces you into the job market with no resources.
Suggestion. Attempt to resign rather than be terminated. You might be able to talk your way through a resignation rather than a termination with a new employer. However, you’ll still need to answer the question, “why”?
Situational termination. While the statement, “We’re reorganizing” is scary to most employees; it’s not as crushing as a termination “for cause”. This situation can easily be explained away while seeking another job. Most hiring managers have been involved in a similar situation themselves over the past 10 or 15 years. They know the cause of the termination was out of your control. Your objective is to show that performance was not the issue, but rather the company decided on a strategic redirection of its resources.
Suggestion: Be prepared to document your current performance, from your entry to your exit. If you can’t validate your contributions you’ll have a more difficult job search. You have to convince any potential employer that you weren’t let go because of your lack of performance.
Requested termination. Even though a voluntary termination is unusual, your job search strategy can be strengthen because of it. An advantage is that you get into the marketplace early, before hundreds more flood the market. Sometimes you’ll be asked to stay through the reorganization, or better yet because of your performance, to stay on at a higher-level position. If you resign early, ask for an early severance allowance to carry you over the transition. Another alternative is to ask that you continue to contribute as an employee while looking for another job. Suggestion. Deciding on the best alternative is dependent upon your relationship with the boss and the considerate nature of the organization. Some organization will be receptive to the idea (less hassle later) while others may not (less caring about their employees).
Terminating a relationship with your employer is not a pleasant experience, no matter what the reason. However, it’s a time to reevaluate your career and develop a strategy to come out ahead. The key to the transition is: Sound planning, documented performance, alternative strategies and perseverance.
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