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Posted by on Mar 10, 2010

When You Leave: Victim or Victor?

When we’re out pounding the pavement looking for a new job, we do all we can to put our best foot forward. We prepare for the interview, and we do our absolute best to ensure that the product we’re presenting (us) is the product that our prospective company wants to buy. If we’re lucky, we get the job and are ready to begin. The first 90 days may greatly influence how your career progresses with the organization.

Chances are we’ve all been there.

But what happens when, at the soft drink machine or over lunch in the breakroom, we hear that there may be layoffs coming? How you handle yourself after you’ve received that devastating news greatly affects how you find your next job.  Your last 90 days may be just as critical as your first 90 days.

I ask that you think about this from two perspectives: your employer’s, and your own.  From your employer’s perspective, how you conduct yourself in those final days may have a bearing on whether they can bring you back on when the economy improves. If you show up angry, dejected, and with a poor attitude, those team mates (and your boss) who remain will always remember how you acted toward the end of your tenure.  Conversely, if you show up (and I’m not saying it’s easy), doing what your employer asks, tying up all loose ends, proactively assisting in your transition, and acting as professionally as possible at all times, your employer will be much more likely to reconsider hiring you if their market position changes.  From a personal perspective, simply ask yourself how you want to be remembered. It’s easy to feel rejected, angry, that you’ve been treated unfairly, and all the other non-positive feelings you may have when, through no fault of your own, you find yourself without a job.

But if you do everything you can to help the transition, you will have proven to yourself that you can rise above any situation, that you can persevere, and that ultimately, you did the right thing. If you’re asked in future interviews about accomplishments and are able to list “how I left my last job,” that speaks volumes about your character, your work ethic, and you as an employee.  If you find yourself in this position, the choice is yours: be the victim, or be the victor.

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