Recently I was talking to a friend who’s employed at a business that’s failing. My friend has been there for 15 years, knows the business inside and out, and is finding that he’s the guy the remaining staff is coming to for answers. Yet, though the ownership’s plan for saving the company remains uncertain, when I asked him if he was looking for a new job, my friend said he was confident he’d land on his feet, pledged loyalty to his employer, and was ready to go down with the ship.
So, if you find yourself working for a failing or downsizing company, where does your loyalty lie? Needless to say, the answer is different for everyone, especially when you consider the current economy, your longevity, your family situation, and any number of other factors. But if you do feel you need to jump ship, consider these points as you don your life jacket:
Not so long ago, this was the glue that kept employees at one company for their whole career. Needless to say, in the current job market, loyalty is a forgotten concept for both employees and employers. In the current recession, people who’d been at a company, 20, 30, and even 40 years found themselves on the street when their employers terminated their positions or replaced them with younger, lower paid staffers. Conversely, these days many career coaches say it’s not unusual for someone to change jobs every two years. So where does your loyalty lie? Obviously, if yours is a family owned business and you’ve been treated like family, or your employer bent over backwards for you during a time of need, your decision may be difficult. Otherwise, look out for number one! No matter how long you’ve worked somewhere, don’t expect a company to be loyal to you. Your income, and your livelihood, is at stake. And remember, as Robert Duvall said in The Godfather, “It’s business, not personal!”
Again, the timing is different for every situation but remember, it’s always easier to find a job when you have a job. But generally, once you see it’s time for you to jump ship, start looking for another job now! If you’re pursuing a new job online, only do it at home on your personal computer. Using the office copier to print current résumés? Always remember to take the original with you when you’re done. And when scheduling interviews, try to arrange them early or late after your regular working hours or during your lunch hour. If a company is really interested in you, they’ll understand your situation and make the time for you. Better yet, use a vacation or sick day since, if your current employer does fold or close, you might lose the time off you’ve earned anyway.
If the interviewer asks why you’re leaving your current job, don’t mention the company is failing, as that might leave them wondering what your role has been in the downfall. Instead, give it a general, yet clear answer, such as, “It’s simply time to move on,” or “Im looking for a more challenging position.” Don’t make your current employer the bad guy or say anything that will cast a negative light on your present job. With that said, remember to emphasize your dedication to your current employer and make sure the interviewer knows you’ll bring that same level of commitment to a new job.
Finally, when you do land a new job, make sure to leave your current position gracefully. Whenever someone leaves a job, there’s always chaos in his or her wake. Generally, the higher up the ladder you are or the longer you’ve been with a company, the more havoc your departure will create. Do your best to minimize that havoc. And remember that, no matter what the situation is at your current employer, your old boss or co-worker might be just the contact or reference you need to find a new job somewhere down the road.
It’s been said that if you want loyalty, you should just buy a dog. And if you see your employer’s ship is sinking, plan your jump on your own terms. Your current ship might be going down but ultimately, your goal is to keep your career afloat and sailing the right direction.