Ellie & Jill Take on COVID-19: New Job Offer During Quarantine

Posted on April 8, 2020

Ellie and Jill

Ellie and Jill (get it? EL and GL?) are two anonymous ELGL members who answer your most pressing and sensitive questions. Because everything is anonymous, you can rely on Ellie and Jill to tackle the issues you’ve always wanted to talk about but were too afraid to ask. Want to submit your own question for Ellie and Jill? Send an email to info@ELGL.org.

Q: I’ve just received an unsolicited offer to take a leadership position in a different community. I’m excited about the opportunity, but I’m concerned about following up on it during these difficult times. What should I look out for?  

A: First of all, Congratulations! It speaks so highly of you to receive an unsolicited offer during such a tumultuous time. You must have really impressed them. Without knowing the specifics of the offer or the new organization, here are a few things to think through as you proceed.

Covering your bases

Without sounding like a Debbie Downer, the first bit of advice we can provide is to check out how “real” this offer is right now. The worst case scenario here is that you exit your current organization and it turns out the new place can’t actually bring you on in the timeframe you’d anticipated.

Before you start notifying your current employer, chatting about the new gig with friends, or consider updating your LinkedIn status, you need to get that offer in writing. Across the country, local governments and the businesses that support them are entering a period of hiring freezes, pay freezes (and reductions), furloughs and reductions-in-force.

Even in organizations that are still hiring, processes are slowing as employees adjust office-based paper processes to remote, online work. The individual that reached out to you might not have the full picture of what hiring looks like in their organization right now.

It is totally ok for you to ask a lot of questions, request things in writing, and make sure that you have a start date legitimately set up before you begin planning your exit.

Handling your good news with grace

Under normal circumstances, it would be reasonable to expect your friends and family to be thrilled for you right now. But with so much uncertainty about their own health, job stability, and personal financial worries, they might not be able to appreciate your accomplishment in quite the same way as they might have before the pandemic.

While you should absolutely share your good news with your close friends and family, be sensitive to what you say and how you say it. And don’t be upset if you don’t get the same joyful reaction that you might have received pre-COVID. 

Considering your notice period

When it’s the “right time” to give your notice is always a question for debate. If your organization has a firm policy about how much notice they expect or if the new organization has a rigid timeline, your decision is kind of made for you. But if it’s not clear what an appropriate notice period would look like given our new realities, it is worth considering what impact your departure would have on your current organization.

Are you the sole PIO for a local government in a town experiencing significant COVID-related issues? Then you should probably offer to stay for longer than you might have under more normal circumstances, perhaps participating in training up backup support on your key tasks.

On the other hand, if you are in a role where you’ve been manufacturing busy-work to fill your WFH days, then a traditional 2 weeks notice is probably perfectly appropriate.

In any case, the goal here is not to burn any proverbial bridges so you maintain that strong professional reputation that is the reason you received an unsolicited offer in the first place!

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