Saturday, March 29, 2014

Was I Laid Off or Terminated?

When working with new candidates one of the first things we ask them is "why did you leave your most recent position." In response we occasionally receive "I was terminated." While that is possibly true, we need to clear that up. Were you terminated or laid off?

It's interesting how many candidates don't realize the difference between the two. Prospective employers don't like hearing the word "terminated." It implies that you were let go for cause such as violating firm policy, inappropriate behavior or simply poor work ethic.

If you were the victim of budget cuts or downsizing, you were laid off, not terminated. When asked, be very clear, not to mention truthful, about your reasons for leaving. If there is any discrepancy found during a background check it could cost you that new job. Be honest, it will save trouble and confusion in the long run.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Reasons to NOT accept a counter offer

The economy is better, the stock market hit an all time high and people are changing jobs. Or so they thought. More and more firms are countering employees rather than dealing with the drama of hiring a new one. See the reasons why you should not accept a counter offer. These are real and true and when you accept a counter you will not only harm your reputation inside the firm, but also in the community.

Finding a new position isn't easy. It takes time, more time than any respected profession warrants. In fact, after you reach a certain level of acumen in your chosen field, it's downright insulting to be part of this slow-moving process, waiting tirelessly to land that next, rightful position. But once the deal is done, you are ready. You are pleased with the compensation package and determined to make a move. And then what? It's time to tell the news to your current employer: not such a gee-I'm-really-looking-forward-to-it kind of task. It might keep you up at night, actually rehearsing what to say to your direct report. And then, nervously, you announce to the higher ups you're leaving: "It has been a terrific time spent but a better opportunity has come along and I'm taking it." Your heart rate slows and you're breathing fresh air. But the next step could come as a surprise if you aren't prepared for it.

Your employer says to you: "Hey, can you hold your decision for 24 hours? I would like to discuss this with someone in the corner office and get back to you tomorrow." Much like the spouse who refuses to sign the divorce papers, you are now caught in a game of 'how much you are valued in your old post and it's a bit alluring. Hmm. They don't want me to leave, they want to keep me, that's interesting. What am I really worth in this position? Shall I play this out a bit and see?

Well here's my best advice, based on all of the candidates that get seduced by the counter offer: cut your losses. Because truly, sticking around isn't exactly what you wanted in the first place. Here are some reasons why:

1. The counter offer is a holding pattern. Your employer hasn't found your replacement and they're not willing to have you leave until they are ready. Does that sound like job security? Not so much.

2. Don’t forget, there was a reason you were open to new opportunities. The company that you are leaving has not met your professional goals and that's why you were receptive to new opportunities. Don't forget the basic premise of your search-- you had some kind of philosophical differences to get you here in the first place. If it was just compensation, why didn't you ask for a raise?

3. Your employer will view you as untrustworthy. You have crossed the line. In fact, they now know you were looking for another position when they thought your lunch just ran late. You are now considered a traitor in their eyes; one who is just avaricious enough to stick around.

4. Head them off at the pass. When breaking the news, tell them you are leaving, don't ask for permission. Ensure that your employer knows your decision is firm. Don't even allow them to get to the point of a counter offer. You have slogged through this process for a reason, so don't let your flattered ego stop you from forward motion. Politely tell them you're mind is made up.

5. Hold your ground, give plenty of notice and do your best to ensure an orderly transition. Because you never really know if a time could come when you are landing back on your old employer's doorstep-- or your old employer becomes your new employer. Still, hold your ground. People always remember how you leave.

The seduction of a counter offer is rarely what it seems. Though the bitter taste of disloyalty may linger in the mouth of your current employer, your new post is awaiting you with open arms.