Q. I have been laid off with about 15 other people in my group. We don’t finish until the end of the year, and it isn’t easy. I’m not happy with the company, I’m not good to the people who get to stay, who used to be my friends. Is it better to just leave now?
A. Having a working notice, or time to stay on the job after you know when your last day of work will be, can be a mixed blessing. The good news is you have time to start your job search, prepare your resume and LinkedIn profile, while you continue to collect a paycheck and before you start using severance. You also have the opportunity to tell potential employers that your company valued your contributions and trusted you enough to allow you to stay on the job after you had been given notice. These components of a working notice are very valuable, and employees are often rewarded with stay bonuses.
The downside of a working notice can be the emotional impact of knowing you are leaving. Going to a work location where others are not leaving and continue to work on long term projects is difficult. Often their discomfort with your situation can make it harder for you to exhibit your most professional behavior.
Try to maintain a professional attitude, complete the work projects you are assigned, train others and document what is needed. Most often, over the duration of the working notice, the balance of time will shift; early on the focus is work and some job search activity, later in the notice period more job search activity comes in to play. Recognize that the manager you have now can be instrumental as a great reference, especially considering the challenging circumstances. Colleagues and managers may be willing to become an active part of the network you build.
Start the job search. If outplacement services are available prior to leaving, utilize the support. Complete your resume and get it to as many recruiters as possible. Stay very positive with colleagues who are staying as they may be sources of new opportunities for you. They did not make the difficult business decisions which impacted you, and hopefully will react well to your positive overtures.
Leaving before the end of the notice should be your last resort. Make sure to talk to human resources and your manager to try and maintain a supportive environment. If you believe you can no longer stay, research the impact leaving may have on your ability to collect unemployment prior to making any decisions.