Evaluating Your Options After a Corporate Takeover
Q: I'm a victim of a hostile
corporate takeover. Until last week, I was the regional sales
manager for a Fortune 500 company where I have worked since 2003. On
Monday, the new management installed its own man (after saying there
would be no personnel changes) and offered me either a job in sales
or a severance package.
I'm not sure what to do. The
following questions keep rolling around in my mind: should I take
the cut in responsibility and be thankful that I still have a job?
Should I agree to the severance package, lose my security, and look
for a new opportunity equal to my current position? How difficult
would it be for me to change jobs considering that I'm in my early
40's and earning about $100,000 a year? If I quit to job search full
time, will potential employers question my worth?
A: You have a lot of issues to
deal with; let's take them one at a time. The decision to stay or
leave the company depends on what you want from your career now and
in the future. If you've been feeling overworked and out of touch
with your customers, moving into a sales slot may rejuvenate you.
Or if your personal life has suffered because of your professional
responsibilities, returning to sales can give you a chance to
achieve a better balance in your life.
Chances are that you consider a move
back to sales a move in the wrong direction, however. Trying to
lower your expectations will be difficult and may lead to increasing
resentment and a lackluster performance. To get your career back on
track, you'll have to take a risk and look for other opportunities.
Not long ago, I was working with Sue, a
client who had the misfortune to be laid off twice in one year. As
you may imagine, her ego was severely bruised. Yet after several
months of introspection, she said, “While this last year has been
the worst I can remember, I've discovered two important facts: No
matter what happens, I can survive. And my greatest security is my
own talent and belief in myself.” Out of tremendous adversity came
the seeds of some real personal and professional growth.
As Gail Sheehy proposes in
Pathfinders, you can use your current dilemma as a springboard
to finding a job that will fulfill your career goals. Your concern
about your age and marketability is your greatest barrier. I've
found that 40-year-olds who feel they have a lot to offer easily
connect with employers who are enthusiastic about their maturity and
experience. On the other hand, job hunters who are defensive about
their age generally encounter interviewers who think they are
People who quit their jobs to conduct
full-time job searches rarely are considered inferior to those
currently employed. In fact, telling a potential employer that
you've decided to concentrate your efforts on finding the right job
often inspires awe, not ridicule. Usually, the interviewer will
perceive you as you see yourself.
If your identity is closely tied to your
work or the unemployment rate is very high where you live, you
probably shouldn't quit your job before you've found another. But
if you can handle a lack of daily structure and banish thoughts of
living under a bridge, a full-time job search may be your better