Worried About Job Security

Question:

I have been working in my current job for approximately 10 months. I had previously worked for a competitor of the current company I am employed with for more than six years, so though I am with the current company for less than a year, I have some experience in the industry under my belt. I was approached by a recruiter for my current job, and I accepted this job because the pay was higher and there were more “perks” to working with this company.

With that said, about three months ago my coworkers and I were “surprised” by an announcement of a re-organization in our groups (we actually work in a regional office). However, the official changes in reporting and job functions have not occurred as of this date. I feel at this point as though my job is in limbo, and though my current boss told me that I don’t need to worry about job security, she has also suggested that I apply for other open positions within the company. She has also stated that no one knows what to do with me, though I feel I have already proven my worth to the company and have taken on additional job functions since I started. I was told by my current boss that at some point I will no longer report to her, and I am now hearing rumors that my job functions (along with some other people’s job functions here) will eventually be absorbed by the corporate office (which is located in another state).

One of the other members of management here in our regional office asked me if I am willing to go over to his group. I agreed, so he has included me in a proposal for a new group he is creating, however, it is in the preliminary stages and I don’t know if and when this change will happen. Though at first I didn’t think I should “jump ship” at the first sign of problems, I now do not feel comfortable with my job security at this point. The information I have been told so far has not been straightforward, and I’m trying not to fall prey to the rumors, but that is hard to do at this time. The previous company I worked for is posting jobs that are of interest to me (their corporate headquarters are located here in town). Should I apply for these jobs? Should I put more feelers out, or am I over-reacting? I don’t want to give the appearance of being “wishy washy” with my former employer (I did leave on good terms), but I don’t want to find myself out of a job, especially during these tough economic times. Any advice is appreciated

Signed,

In Limbo


Answer:

DearĀ In Limbo:

In light of learning about the re-organization and rumors of what might happen to your current position, your anxiety about job security is understandable. The three options you mention each appear to have favorable potential: 1. To put your faith in your current boss who told you did not have to worry and follow her suggestions to apply for other positions within your company. More than that, she told you, “no one knows what to do with you”; therefore, you know that is something you must do. 2. To put your lot with the manager who is applying to start a new group; or 3. To sound out returning with your former employer of six years and from whom you left on good terms.

Pursuing any one or all of these options raises the question of how you go about it or them; secretly or openly. This issue poses practical and ethical matters, ones that you alone must weigh. Apparently, you have spoken with your current boss in confidence about what might happen to you. She has given you, suggested, that you are free to explore other openings within your company. In doing that, she has urged you to finding a place that provides job security, and if you request, probably she would help you do so. Possibly, the invitation by another manager starting a new group would fall in this category of looking for other jobs. The fact that this manager has not yet been assured that he has approval for a new group is not re-assuring; however, expressing genuine interest in joining him does not rule out keeping other options open, such as exploring returning to your former employer.

Now is a time to bolster your resume by adding the new skills you are learning, projects you have accomplished, and references. Should you make an immediate decision or might you use this as a time of informational interviewing? It appears that you have time. You are fortunate that you have skills that are wanted in your industry. Exploring the options probably need not be posted on the bulletin board or should the grist for gossip. Yet, as you go about gathering information, might not the guiding principle for your process be: acting as I would like be treated. Unfortunately, such an ethic does not eliminate corporate politics, deception, and greedily job grabs.

Approach this time as an adventure rather than a battle with the dragon of unemployment. You are a valued employee who has and can add value to your employer. See your self as that person. Be of good cheer in spite of your anxiety. Put yourself in the shoes of your employer and put into words and action what you can do for internal and external customers. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Will you keep us posted about the options you pursue and what happens?

William Gorden