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The Dilemma of Working and Looking for Another Job


On Wednesdays we focus on the workplace.

Today, more job changes at the White House. Press Secretary Scott McClellan announced his resignation this morning. It came just days after the new chief of staff, Joshua Bolton, encouraged White House staffers to leave now, if they were considering a move within the year; quite a directive. Stephen Viscusi is CEO of The Viscusi Group, an executive search firm based in Manhattan. We called him to find out, first of all, if you should show your cards when there's a shake-up in the works?

Good morning.

Mr. STEPHEN VISCUSI (CEO, The Viscusi Group): Well, it's interesting because the White House is one of the few places where they're so polite that instead of firing you, they give you a chance to resign. In the real world of work, if we resign ahead of getting fired, guess what? We don't get to collect unemployment. So, not very many people do that today.

MONTAGNE: So your advice would be, if there's a shakeup, don't quit too soon?

Mr. VISCUSI: In the private sector, when there's a shakeup within your company, it's very important to see the handwriting on the wall. When your company is going to be bought or a new president comes in of your company, or a new CEO, and you think, gee, they're going to bring in their own regime, it's really important to always be looking at your next step.

And by the way, the best time to look for work is when you're not--you don't really need to.

MONTAGNE: Well, sticking with this notion of possible forced departure, if you don't quit, and you do get shown the door, what's the best strategy?

Mr. VISCUSI: It's really important to handle it with class. Not to burn any bridges. Keep sort of a really nice feeling when you leave a job, even if you didn't like what you were doing or you hated your boss, it's still better to leave under positive terms.

MONTAGNE: Can it be a situation where you can turn a firing into a badge of honor?

Mr. VISCUSI: Well, I'm not sure why you need to. I mean, you want, you really want to turn, you just want to find another job. You know, looking…

MONTAGNE: Forget the badge of honor.

Mr. VISCUSI: Forget the badge of honor. Who needs that? You just need another job. And the reality is when you go out into the workplace, you know, you want to really present the most positive footing. Now that new employer may see you and say, well why aren't you working? What's the, you know, what's the deal? The answer to that question should be very minimal, and say, listen, it was time for a change, or the company had changes, or they let a lot of people go. Just go into the interview with the most positive attitude and direction.

MONTAGNE: Well, thank you very much for talking to us.

Mr. VISCUSI: Thanks for having me.

MONTAGNE: Stephen Viscusi is author of On the Job: How to Make It in the Real World of Work. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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