This question came up in a coaching session with a job seeker who was currently out of work and was worried about taking the first job that he was offered whether he really wanted it or not. Now, this goes back to the last job where he had recently been laid off from due to a reduction in force. He had been working at another company and was happy when he was laid off without warning. So he did interview after interview and was offered a job that paid about the same as the one he had just been let go from, so he took it. He wasn’t really excited about the role or the company but he needed to pay the bills as we all do.
So within a short period of time, his misgivings about the company began to emerge. Calls while he was on vacation, the person who hired him resigned without having another job to go to, you know the signs.
Fast forward a couple of months and he felt that he should start looking which he did, but then suddenly the reduction in force happened and he was out. Now even though he wasn’t committed to the company, he still did his job to the best of his ability and was therefore shocked by the fact that all the layer he was at, was let go to cut costs. Not a random story.
While we were chatting about his future goals, we discussed what he would do if offered another role where he had some misgivings. I suggested that the first goal was to get a job, any job in the related field so he can pay his bills. Then he can start looking for his dream job and company. Is this wrong or dishonest?
I had that same dilemma during my career and I have to say that in a lot of cases there seemed to be a lot more loyalty from my side than that of the organization where I was working. The company doesn’t think twice in most cases, when they have to let people go, now I am not talking about for cause, I am talking about letting someone go for no fault of theirs, simply it makes financial sense for the company to reduce headcount.
So why should workers have loyalty to companies that would be so quick to let them go? In the end, regardless of whether you accept a job and in the back of your mind, you are thinking, I am only here until I find a better job, you never never know what that job will bring. You may start with the company and end up staying and moving into your dream job with them. So I say while some people may feel it is an ethical dilemma, it really shouldn’t be as workers are paid to do a job each day they do it, they are not paid for the job they will do in the future and as long as the worker fulfills that commitment, I see nothing wrong with working for one company while actively looking for other options.
Now, this isn’t to say that I think companies should operate like this. My personal business philosophy is that a leader should always know when someone isn’t happy and is thinking about greener pastures. The CEO or leader should help that person find their next role and not have it done in secret as this is far more detrimental to the business than having someone who is only half into the mission.