Can I Still Accept Severance If I Take Another Job?

Career expert Alison Green answers readers’ questions, from “Should I share my résumé?” to “Should I call out a rude hiring manager?”

Can I Still Accept Severance If I Take Another Job?
[Photo: Flickr user Steven Depolo]

Sometimes your work-life questions are complex and deserve detailed, nuanced answers. Other times the solution is a little more simple. Here, career expert Alison Green (a.k.a. Ask A Manager) answers five reader dilemmas.


1. Should I Share My Résumé With People Who Might Want To Base Theirs On It?

I am starting to get requests for informational interviews about my current position and the path I took to get here. As we’re ending, I’ve had people ask both “Could I take a look at your résumé?” or “Would you mind if I sent you my résumé for you to critique?”

The latter takes more time because this involves more than the verbal “Focus on these strengths” or “Cut it down to two pages” that I can say over the phone after a quick glance, but instead some (general) changes via Track Changes. However, the former also feels wrong, like they can “copy” my résumé, which I’ve worked hard on over the years. Should I just get over that feeling and simply send them my résumé, especially because it’s less work for me?

I’d like to say that you shouldn’t have to worry about people copying your résumé because résumés are such personalized documents, but I’ve seen enough of it happening to know that people do, indeed, copy other people’s résumés.

That said, most people aren’t going to do that, so I’d make a judgment call about whether the person you’re talking to is lazy/naive enough to try it. If you think they are, you could always say you don’t have a current version. But otherwise, I don’t think you really have to worry too much about it–and it doesn’t sound like these people are your competition, if you’re giving them informational interviews about your field.

Should I Call Out A Hiring Manager for Being Rude?

I recently applied for a management position at a company I worked for four years ago as a full-time team member, before going back to school to earn my degree. I received a response saying that I might be a better fit for a different managerial position. It was not what I was hoping to hear, but definitely not that big a deal either. So, I emailed the hiring manager back and reiterated my enthusiasm for the original position I applied to, but I also asked if he could clarify the differences between the two positions so I might have a better understanding of why I was deemed a better fit for one over the other.

The reply that I got was very curt, saying that his decision to not consider me for the original position was final, and that I could just read the job description to find out more. Obviously, I’m not an idiot and I’ve already read the job descriptions, on top of having knowledge as a previous employee. The corporate culture has definitely changed since I was employed with this company.

Was I wrong to reiterate my preference for the original job? Was I wrong to ask for a comparison between the two roles? Is it worth emailing back this hiring manager and calling him out for being rude?

No, you weren’t wrong to reiterate your preference, unless he had given you a clear “no” for that first job in his original email. (It’s not clear to me whether he did or not.) But ultimately he just sent you a brusque response, right? You might decide he’s not someone you particularly want to work with, but it doesn’t sound like it’s worth calling him out for rudeness (especially since doing that risks harming your ability to return to that company working a different manager).


Can I Still Accept Severance If I’m About To Take Another Job?

I originally really liked my current job, but for the last six months things have been very unstable–and getting worse. There have been multiple moves across divisions, rollover of the entire senior management team, and contracts falling through. You can imagine how scary it is to work with this kind of uncertainty, especially because this is a large company that has laid off teams in the past without warning. So I started looking for a new job. The company I’ve interviewed with has indicated that they’d like to make an offer, but we are still negotiating the details.

The same week my current company announced another reorg for my project and are moving most of my team to a new division entirely. My manager is flying out to our office on Monday, and to be honest, I suspect she is going to lay us off.

If I do get laid off, what are my ethical responsibilities, both to my current company, and to my new one? Can I still accept severance if I’m finalizing the details of my offer? Should I proactively let the new employer know that I was laid off since they’ve already made me an offer?

You can indeed still accept severance even if you’re about to accept another offer–in fact, even if you’ve already accepted another offer (assuming that there’s nothing in your severance agreement that prohibits that, which there probably won’t be). There’s also no ethical obligation to alert the new employer that you’ve been laid off (although you of course can’t lie if it comes up somehow).

I Took A Counteroffer But Now Regret It, Can I Apply For The Job Again?

A couple of months ago, I received a good job offer to go and work at a company I was really excited about. They were stable, had a great working environment and I knew a few people that already had ties to them with great reviews. Upon receiving my offer, I was ready to resign from my current company, where I’ve been for 12 years. My employers were shocked, and the day after I resigned they came back to me with a counter offer, including a huge raise and two employees to help spread the workload I had been bearing.

I decided to stay with my current company, hoping that this would satisfy the reasons I was leaving the organization. I contacted the HR contact at the new company and told them that I had decided to stay put for at least six months, but that I would be open to any opportunities in the future that might be a good fit.

Now, nearly three months later, I am truly regretting my decision not to go ahead and accept the other position. Although my company did fulfill the promises they’d made in our agreement, I feel in essence that that structure and the management of the organization isn’t a good fit for me anymore.

I’ve noticed on the careers section of the new company’s site that they are currently looking for the position that I had received the offer for previously. Would calling the HR contact at this point back and telling that I’d like to throw my hat back in the ring an option? Or is that door closed?

You can give it a shot but they’re pretty likely to be skeptical. No harm in trying though. But realize that if they do make you an offer, you’re pretty much going to have to take it this time or that bridge will be forever destroyed.

And yeah, this is why you shouldn’t take counteroffers.


I Was Demoted And Now Someone I Used to Manage Is My Boss, What Should I Do?

A couple years ago, I was received my first promotion within the contract company I work for, supervising the other professionals in my certification area. During the first year of a particularly large contract, my company realized that we needed more managerial staff than we currently had, and asked me to assist with this contract, as I had particular skills that met our company’s needs in this contract.

It became clear in my first few months working with the new contract that, due to the increasing demands of my newly adopted responsibilities, I would be unable to continue both managing both the professionals in my certification area and the new contract. As a result, we began training someone to take over my first set of managerial responsibilities, and were set for her to take that role in the fall.

At the end of the summer, the new, large contract abruptly ended. Most of the staff working with that contract except me and one other person, were laid off. I was only spared because I would be able to take my pre-management role.

So now, due to rearrangement of contracts, I’m working under someone who used to work under me, and my responsibilities involve sometimes consulting with her regarding the job performance of our co-workers in specific areas. There aren’t any particular problems, but it feels really weird, and I’m frequently worrying that I’m stepping on her toes. Should I wait until a problem is mentioned to me, or is there another way to approach this?

If you’re fine with it and she seems fine with it, I’d assume everyone’s fine with it and move forward. It sounds like you’re assuming that there must be problems in such a situation, but if everyone involved is reasonably mature and doesn’t let ego get in the way, there’s no reason it has to be problematic. If you’re not seeing problems, assume you don’t need to worry.

This article originally appeared on Ask A Manager and is reprinted with permission.