Monday, March 4, 2013

Loyal to a Fault

Loyalty to one’s employer is a commendable attribute and a worthy character trait. Loyalty has value but I would note it should never be given freely unless it is earned and, even then, it requires ongoing maintenance regardless of whether it concerns you personally or professionally. The workplace has changed a lot over the last few decades and company loyalty was something that was often assumed mutually between employers and employees. Our grandparents worked hard and, in exchange for their hard work, they received good pensions and plans that would see them through their retirement years. There was back then a basis for such allegiance and devotion to company. It seems as if it was a long time ago, doesn’t it? Since then I would suggest it isn’t the employees who’ve broken that bond but rather the other way around. Make no mistake, I am not anti-company or anti-corporate but I am a realist. 

Most who are actively seeking a job change find time to interview and pursue other opportunities in their free time, or they might take a half-day off from work or they come up with some kind of excuse to leave work and attend an interview, or arrange to interview after work. I have spoken on more than a few occasions with people who think it’s improper, or they feel tormented with pangs of guilt about actively looking for a job on company time. Therefore, it is a bit ironic because most people don’t think twice about how much time they waste in the office using Facebook or other productive personal online activities during the work day. So imagine my reaction when someone tells me for reasons of integrity they’re considering leaving their job in order to free themselves and focus on their job search, full-time. This is pretzel logic and more likely an attempt to rationalize leaving a place where they no longer want to be. Or they claim they want to take some well-deserved time off because once they start a new job, it will be a while before they can take any vacation or personal time off. 

Even in the best of times an average interview process from introduction to offer takes, on average, 10 – 12 weeks. But the trends are such that processes are taking much longer; companies are dragging their feet in making decisions, not to mention fewer jobs available. Not surprisingly, I know people who were going to take a break and then, all rested and ready, committed themselves to finding a new job – and a year later they are still looking and quite freaked out, as you can imagine. 

If you can help it and have any choice in the matter, never leave one job before having established another to which to transition. If you have a new job, make sure you really have it before tendering your resignation; in other words don’t resign before you have a mutually signed job offer, contract or whatever, and a firm start date. A mere verbal promise or assurance, is not a signed job offer.

And what about your conscience, what about diverting time to look for a new job? Regardless of whether you are actively or passively considering new opportunities, everyone has a job description and as long as you are performing your job in a sufficient manner, meeting or exceeding expectations, you have nothing to worry or feel guilty about.
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