Case Study: “Recruiters Won’t Call Me If I’m Unemployed”

As an Animal Health and Veterinary recruiter, I speak with people all day long every day. As you might imagine, this includes primarily professionals within the Animal Health Industry and Veterinary Profession. Sometimes these professionals are active job seekers, sometimes they’re passive candidates, and sometimes they’re in a position to hire, as well.

These conversations provide me with access to certain insights. That’s because people share their thoughts with me about their job, their career, and their attitude regarding both. I have to say that I learn a great deal as a result of these conversations.

One of these conversations is the topic of this article.

Finding a position vs. taking a package

I was recently speaking with a pharmaceutical sales rep on the human side who had been a veterinary pharmaceutical sales rep for many years previously. I first met her many years ago when I placed her in a veterinary pharmaceutical sales position.

During our recent conversation, this professional said that she had been working in human pharmaceuticals, but was leaving the company because it was losing its patent on the product she was representing. As a result, she indicated that she saw “the writing on the wall” and decided to make a change. More specifically, she stated that she wanted to be proactive rather than reactive, so she didn’t find out later that she wasn’t going to have a position with the company and become suddenly unemployed. She said she wanted to take her career into her own hands and proactively look for a new position.

“I would rather find a position than take a severance package,” she said.

According to this professional, some of her colleagues stayed with the organization. They anticipated “taking a package” and then moving on should the company lay them off in the near future. However, she indicated that she never wants to be in that situation.

“When you’re unemployed, recruiters won’t call you,” she said. “If you take a package and go more than two months without a job, recruiters stop calling. I would rather be proactive and find a great job than take a package and not have a job and not know long it will be before I find a good job.”

A matter of rewards and punishment

With more than 20 years of experience as a Veterinary and Animal Health recruiter, I can tell you that this line of thinking makes sense. I have long been an advocate of being proactive as opposed to being reactive. The reason? The thousands of conversations I’ve had with professionals about their careers and what I’ve witnessed during the past 20 years. I’ve seen professionals be proactive and be rewarded for it, and I’ve seen people be reactive who have experienced negative consequences as a result. It’s rare to see professionals be proactive and take their career into their own hands and for them to experience negative results.

I have case study after case study involving people who were reactive in terms of their jobs and they paid dearly for it. These are unfortunate situations about which I warn other people, and that’s the purpose of this article: to warn you about the dangers of being reactive.

But let’s play along for a moment. Suppose you’re reading this and you’re thinking to yourself, “Why not take a package? What’s so bad about that? People do it all the time.” Since you’ve asked the question (or more precisely, I’ve asked it for you), let’s explore the answer:

#1—You have to pay the tax man.

There’s no getting away from the Internal Revenue Service. A severance package is not tax-free, although it’s easy to forget that’s the case. So like all the money that your employer gives you, the amount that you initially think you’re receiving is not the amount that you will actually be receiving.

#2—You have no idea how long the package will last.

Sure, it’s easy to fantasize about receiving a package that doesn’t run out before you land another job, but you don’t know for sure how long it will take you to find another good job. I know quite a few professionals who thought it would be easy to land a new job after receiving a package. What they thought would happen and what actually happened turned out to be two very different things.

#3—Desperation could lead to poor decisions.

Let’s face it: the longer you go without a job, the more desperate you’re likely to become. This is especially the case once the money from the package runs out. (While you might also have some savings, you’re probably not fond of the idea of having to use it in such a situation.) In essence, you’re moving from a position of weakness as opposed to a position of strength. As a result, you might succumb to the temptation to take a less desirable position. So while you might have a job, you’ve actually taken a step backwards in your career in that situation.

Viewed in that light, was it really worth it to wait and take the package?

More leverage and more options

I’ve said this before in previous articles and blog posts: the best time to look for a job is when you already have a job. If you have an okay job, look for a better one. If you have a good job, look for a great one. When you take this proactive approach, you have more leverage. In other words, you have more options and not only that, but you typically have better options.

When you have more and better options, then you’re in a much better position to make better decisions. To put it another way:

When you have a job, you don’t have to consider another employment opportunity unless that opportunity is clearly better than the job you have.

When you don’t have a job, you have to consider just about ALL opportunities because even if those opportunities are not desirable, they’re still better than having no job.

Don’t wait for a package or anything else, for that matter. Be proactive about your career. Keep your eyes open for other opportunities, and as always, be open to considering them once you’re presented with them. If you haven’t read my article, “I’m Not Open to Opportunity,” then I encourage you to read it here: https://thevetrecruiter.com/not-open-opportunity/

This is 20+ years of Veterinary and Animal Health recruiting experience talking.

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of Animal Health and Veterinary organizations. If this is something that you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.