Job hunting

Amy Lindgren was on MPR’s Midday today, offering advice on job hunting. She also shared a few how-not-to-lay-people-off tales.

“I can’t get over all the wrong ways I run across. I’m not a big fan of the walk-the-person-out-the-door-practically-in-handcuffs model. Suddenly people who have been entrusted with the company secrets, can’t be trusted for another five hours. I would think the right way would be to give people some time to say goodbye,” she said.

She said she knows of one person who was told by his landlord he lost his job. It happened when the landlord was doing a reference check. ‘They just told me you don’t work there anymore,’ the landlord said.

I’ve heard of a similar story of a former classmate who was a disc jockey at a New Hampshire radio station. He was in the shower, getting ready to go to work and listening to his radio station, when he heard the announcer telling people to tune in and hear another announcer on his show.

Here’s a few other questions-and-answers from the show:

Q: I was recently laid off and given a three-week severance package. Is there a standard?

A: The common formula is a month for every year of service but there’s no standard. There is a standard for mass layoffs in Minnesota.

Q: If you’re required to sign something that says you can’t speak about the company in order to get your severance pay, should you?

A: Generally, they usually say you can’t speak in a negative way. I’d consider bringing the notice to an attorney to get it pared down a bit. (Bob notes: I’m sure the questioner meant “speak negatively,” which makes the severance “hush money.”)

Q: I was employed for 12 years, and now the searching parameters seem to be online. There, they ask for salary requirements. What should I do?

A: You’ve lost much of your negotiating power because you’ve already identified what you will or won’t work for. Try filling in all zeros or all ones. But if they’re employing a screening program to eliminate all applicants above or below a certain number, that won’t work.

Q: I was fired while on vacation. Does that happen often?

A: I’m aware of someone who made the mistake of answering his cellphone while on vacation. A shoe salesman, driving all over North Dakota, got back to his home office and the doors were locked. He had no idea the company had closed. “All I have is a bunch of business cards and a trunkfull of left shoes.”

Q: Is there a difference between being fired and laid off?

A: I don’t know if people care as much about the distinction. Fired is a word we use when someone causes their own demise. Laid off is the term we use when it’s due to an economic situation that isn’t framed as the fault of the employee.

The distinction is significant. You’d be hard-pressed to find people who haven’t been laid off. Fired is another story.

  • BJ

    I was fired after I got back from my honeymoon.

  • Last year when I was laid off they pulled each group into a room with their Canadian overlord who was in charge of handing out the envelopes with all the severance paperwork.

    I had to introduce myself to my “boss” before he officially fired me just to make sure I got the right severance package. About three of my other co-workers followed my lead.

    The poor guy was mortified, but I still don’t feel bad for him.

  • When I refused to sign an obviously illegal non-compete agreement with the resume writing service I was working for, the District Manager showed up with a building security guard and a box, and had me escorted from the building where they were renting an office.

    That was motivation enough to keep me writing resumes for another dozen years, but it takes a remarkable person to keep at this work like Amy has done. She’s an exceptionally positive person and I’d recommend her services to anyone.

    I wasn’t quite so positive, which is probably why I worked with a lot of people who’d been fired. Over the last quarter century the quality of management in this country has plummeted thanks to businesses purging themselves of non-business majors. It is this mono-culture of ethics-less managers that has ruined the American economy.

    American workers have never busted butt so hard, or done so for so little recognition or pay. And never have they been treated so shabbily as they were shown the door.

  • Lily

    Where I work we have LOTS of MBA types and business consultants (making $100 bucks an hour or so). They are some of the WORST folks around. All they do is go to meetings and talk with each other, while we continue to go down hill.

    Let’s get back to people running places who know how to do the work!!