January 17, 2016
I’ve been given several months notice that my in-house position is being eliminated. Should I panic and start looking for a job asap or wait until closer to my last day?
There’s no need to panic. In fact, that is just about the worst thing you could do right now. Instead, stay calm and focus on your next move. While you might be feeling anxious knowing that your job is being eliminated, there are a few silver linings in your situation.
First, you’ve been provided with several months notice until the lights go out, which gives you some breathing room as you kick your search into gear. Second, today’s legal market is good and lawyers are enjoying a diverse set of law firm and in house opportunities from which to choose. So you will be searching for your next role in an active market. Third, even the worse case scenario (i.e. you are unemployed while seeking a new position) is not the kiss of career death it might have been 30 years ago. Employers are more socialized and accepting of candidates who are not currently employed while seeking greener pastures. In addition, you will have a good reason for being on the sidelines (that won’t raise red flags): your job was eliminated. So should you find yourself in this situation, your candidacy won’t be tainted.
Despite the fact you’ve been given several months notice, this is no time to kick back. I recommend that you start your job search now. Looking for a job is a job in and of itself so it could take a while before you find the next role that’s right for you. Use this time to get organized and create a plan to maximize your options. Get your resume in shape. Talk to recruiters. Get the lay of the employment land. Think about how you will market yourself and answer the inevitable interview question “Why are your seeking to leave your job?” Determine how you will build and leverage your network…and start executing. Everything you do in the next 1-2 months should position you to maximize your search effort and hone your presentation in the weeks/months to come. And the more organized and prepared you are, the more effective you will be.
There is no upside in putting off your search until your current role has officially ended. Waiting only will prolong things and could create missed opportunities, which may cause stress if too much time passes. So take a deep breath and start your efforts now. And by the time your current employment ends, the transition to your next career opportunity will be teed up for more immediate success. Best of luck!