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My Company is Closing... When Should I Look for a Job?

Dear J.T. & Dale: We just found out our company is closing the plant where I and others have worked for more than 20 years. There isn't a final closing date, but it will close in three to six months. In this job market, does it make sense to wait until the plant is closing to look for a new job and thus retain severance (close to a year's pay)? Or should I start looking now and leave without the severance? - Andre DALE: Most people don't just wait for their severance to start - they wait for it to end. There's even an old line among cynical outplacement counselors: When the newly laid-off employee asks, "How long will it take me to find a job?" the outplacement counselor responds, "However long your severance is, plus two months." J.T.: In this economy, the average length of unemployment is more than 10 months. So, you probably would blow through your severance even if you started looking right when the plant closes. Your job search could be even longer than average, given that all the other employees will be looking for the same type of jobs. DALE: In fact, if you start looking now, odds are you won't find a job till after the plant closes. You might even get the double bingo: starting a new job shortly after the plant's closing, allowing you to put that severance to other uses. J.T.: It's going to take time to get your resume together and start the networking process, so the sooner, the better. I'm sure it's hard to cope with the idea of starting a job search after investing 20+ years of your professional life in the same company/job, so it's natural to want to put it off, and most of your colleagues probably will. Jump in now, and you'll have a head start, and what's the potential downside of that? You find a job so appealing you jump on it and leave early. Feel free to send questions to J.T. and Dale via e-mail at advice@jtanddale.com or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019. © 2012 by King Features Syndicate, Inc. Company closing job search image from Shutterstock