Dear Dave: Well, it happened to me. I was let go from my job because of the pandemic. I have been a faithful and hard-working employee for almost 15 years.
My boss had told me not to worry about keeping my job — well, so much for that. Frankly, I am more than angry that I got the ax. I want to write a letter to the president of the company and tell him off. What do you suggest that I write? — R
Dear R: As much as I understand how you feel and what you are going through, I recommend that you step away from the pen or the keyboard and do not — I repeat — do not send that letter. What good is it going to do you, other than P.O. your employer and kill any future chances of returning to work for them when the pandemic eases up?
If you want to blow off some steam, volunteer to help some nonprofit organization. It is an understatement to say that — other than grocery and liquor stores — companies are having a heck of a time developing a current and future strategy. There are so many unknowns. But one thing is known for sure; there are a lot of people with valuable skills who do not have a chance to use them, and they are waiting for job opportunities to open up. There is a high likelihood that, if someone does land a new job for a new company, they may not be doing the [exact] same type of work they were previously doing … and maybe for less money. Accordingly, keep your cool and don’t let your emotions drive your career strategy — even if this means accepting work that is humbling and less than optimal.
I assume you have developed many relatable job skills you can apply when opportunities do appear, so don’t let your need for revenge kill your chances. People talk, and employers tend to know when a job candidate may be negative and nothing but bad news. Don’t put yourself into these encounters. The employment market we have seen for the last several months is weak, though I believe we will endure and go on to add jobs, and possibly, even better opportunities for workers caught in the workforce reduction.
I have never been a fan of the phrase, “When one door closes, another opens” but it does seem to work that way. Often, being let go encourages people to take stock of their lives and their job skills and actually allow them to move on to a better job that they would have never approached if they had stayed with the jobs and companies they had. As difficult as it is to be forced out of a job, it may be a blessing in disguise. So – move on. I have always supported the idea of asking for an exit interview — if you can get one — so you know where you sit in terms of possibly coming back to your company, or for learning about how effective you might have been in your former job. This tactic will show your employer that, yes, you are not happy with the termination, but you want to improve and make yourself more employable in the future. You might even want to ask for a termination letter that proves you were a good worker, but you were let go only because of the economy and sluggish job market.
Even if your company’s policy doesn’t include an exit interview, ask your boss for one anyway. It’s worth a try. Be grateful and open yourself up for feedback about how you performed and what you could do to improve your skills and employability. It will show that you not only took your job seriously, but that you’re grateful for the experience and the time you had with the company. I tend to believe that any employer would remember those kindly that did not verbally— abuse their boss and tell the rest of the management and staff what [place your own descriptors here] they were. Also, don’t mope around like Eeyore or a “Debbie Downer.” Look at any and all job opportunities — if there are any — as a chance to dig in and start again. I don’t know anyone who enjoys working or even being friends with other people who are negative and act like victims all of the time. I know that accepting some lower level positions allowed me to show influential people what I was made of and what I could offer. This may work for you. Finally, network until you are “blue in the face.” You never know what employment opportunities might exist out there until you talk to people that do. This may mean that you should do work (for free) for nonprofit organizations. There may be people there who can link you up with some employers and job openings or — at least — lift your spirits.
Contact Dave Conrad with questions or comments at email@example.com. Conrad is an associate professor of business at Augsburg University in Rochester.