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Look for a New Job Now or When I am Laid Off?

Q. I have worked for this company for 15 years. Our parent company is reorganizing, and I will be layed off in Q1 2013. I am highly valued at my company and have been offered a significant retention bonus and 8 months severance to stay. My question is will I run into any issues looking for another job in corporate accounting should I decide to stick it out and join the unemployed once my time is up. I hate to leave all these benefits on the table and feel they are owed to me for my years of service. I just don't know what the best course of action should be.

A. The good news is you have a long notice period which will allow you to look at many career options and job possibilities. Your company is demonstrating significant trust in your ability to work through this kind of transition with the same professionalism you have shown over the last 15 years. Be careful of the entitlement behind your "they owe me" statement. The behaviors that can manifest that sentiment are typically not attractive in a well respected employee, and you want to ensure a continued positive relationship for the duration of the transition. The professionals who surround you are your references, and the core of your network. Keeping their respect is vital to your continued success - internally or externally.

Waiting is not an action you should think about. You are in a good position to begin a job search during this notice period. Develop a resume which speaks to the accomplishments of the last 15 years. Develop a networking profile, so that you can more easily build a network of people who can act as your field sales people. Join your professional association and attend meetings to develop relationships. Enhance your LinkedIn profile so that your transition responsibilities are highlighted, and show that you are doing more than "sticking it out".

Take the time you have to research the organizations you aspire to join, or the leadership teams you would most like to develop your skills with. Find out if you are in the right position to jump a level in the next job change. If there are experiences you need to make that happen, see if you can incorporate those learning opportunities into the next few months. Develop a plan to incorporate job search activity into every week between now and Q1 2013. Make sure your manager is in agreement about the time you'll need and your ability to do your job well, and conduct a job search. Your goal is to maximize the notice time, capture the generous benefits, and move into a great role with as little down time "joining the unemployed" as possible, and that is absolutely realistic.

Change over the next few months may also present you with opportunities. Reorganizations can be full of opportunity . The corporate plan may be developed, and may need adjustments. Make sure you stay flexible, aware of the needs of the organization, and your own career needs. Ensure the senior staff from your parent organization is aware of your capabilities, and positive attitude. Now your course of action needs to involve multi-tasking and multi-tracking.

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