It's Only a Business Decision

by: Joanne Meehl

Sometimes people aren't comfortable doing a job search when they're gainfully employed and their job is "OK". Not great, but "OK". They feel they are being unfaithful to seek out or to consider another opportunity. Thus they put it off, even if the handwriting is on the wall, even if the layoff e-mail has gone out.

OK, I'm supposed to say that's admirable. But today, I don't say that. I say "That person is being reactive and is not managing his/her career". Today, I say "Why aren't you advocating for yourself?" What are they waiting for -- someone to painlessly hand them a new job?

Instead, they, you, need to be thinking ahead, for yourself, all the time. In some parts of our country, that's essential to career health.

So yes, I'm suggesting you be unfaithful, if you want to use that term. I'm suggesting you say you have that dentist appointment when you really have an interview. I'm urging you to network with people all the time, even occasionally on your company's time, because when else can you do this? When done judiciously, this is necessary sneaking around. And you have to do it in order to protect your best interests.

Maybe my own experience colors my view: Almost 30 years ago, my dad put in for a transfer with his company (Sears) from New York to Florida. He'd been there over 20 years, and was unabashedly loyal: he was even on the company's regional sports teams, and our home had only Sears products. The company culture for years had been "we'll take care of you". Except, that culture was changing in the late 1970s. Suddenly everything was "Don't take it personally, it's only a business decision". So they denied the transfer and he was stunned, heartbroken. How could this happen after all he had done for them?

And I've seen so many clients today in the same position. It's all too rare to have someone approach me to say "I've got to get out of there while things are still good, because I'm seeing the signs that they won't stay good, for me at least." But that's what more people need to see, and need to say.

Why should you put loyalty second to your career? Because that's how you put yourself -- and your family -- first. You need to advocate for yourself in today's career. Your town won't do it for you. Your neighbors, your Aunt Lucy, and last of all, your current company won't do that for you.

The day a company says, "John, we're thinking of laying you off, what do you think?" is the day I'll change my mind.

For all good (and some dumb) reasons, companies have to reorganize, reassign, and reduce. They call these business decisions. Because they are.

In the end, by taking control of your career, you are making a business decision for you and your family, your future. Your career funds your life. It's what's necessary for you and you must advocate for yourself.

They company or organization will find someone to fill your position, and they'll go on just fine.

You have to make sure the same thing happens for you. And only you can do that.


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