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Glenford Smith | Laid off yet still loyal to company

Published:Sunday | February 14, 2016 | 2:00 AM

QUESTION: I worked for a company for over 10 years and recently got laid off. Since then, I've not been able to get a job, or any offers. However, there's some interest shown by a competing player in the same industry of my former company. I've been reluctant to follow up on this though, as I'm feeling as if I would be disloyal to my former company and colleagues. What do you think?

- Karen B.

SMITH: Your concern reveals a considerable degree of ethical and moral sensibility. You seem to place a high value on loyalty, integrity and esprit de corps. These are commendable traits. They may also be increasingly rare in today's changing work world for reasons this article will make clear.

Several decades ago, workers could reasonably expect to stay at one company throughout their entire careers. Getting fired for some misdeed represented the major risk against this happening. Things have changed, however. Drastically so.

Some experts opine that the average worker today will change jobs at least seven times throughout their career. In fact, a Forbes.com article has referred to job hopping as 'the new normal.' What this means, Karen, is that, increasingly, more persons can expect to face your dilemma. They should find this article helpful, as well.

The Careers column, over the years, has presented many ideas, strategies and tools to support your efforts at getting a job. Therefore, this article will focus on addressing your feeling of disloyalty as you've expressed it.

I think that, though commendable, your sense of loyalty is misguided and misplaced. The fact is that the company laid you off, presumably as a cost-cutting measure. Loyalty to you didn't deter them. Similarly, you have to be pragmatic you must look out for your own best interest. Your first loyalty is to yourself.

If one of your former company's competitors recognises your value and offers you a job, you should take it. And you should do your best to perform excellently and help them outdo your former company, if possible.

That doesn't mean you are free to divulge trade secrets you had committed to keep confidential that would be unethical. Never violate your integrity or moral principles. Just keep in mind: your primary professional commitment is to help your employer achieve preeminence in the marketplace.

In today's work world, corporations think first and foremost about their profitability. Their survival and flourishing are their top priorities. If you fit into their business plan, fine; otherwise you are dispensable and may be laid off.

What that means is that you have to make decisions that are in your best interest, first and foremost. If you don't, no one else will. That's the simple fact of the matter. Don't naively believe your company is committed to your job security and career success.

My advice to you is to leverage your experience, knowledge and contacts in the industry as valuable assets for the interested company. Make them an irresistible proposal, showing how you can help them win market share, improve customer relations and grow profitability. You owe that much to yourself.

Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of 'From Problems to Power' and co-author of 'Profile of Excellence'. Email: glenfordsmith@yahoo.com