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THE QUESTION

I work at a small-town library where the entire staff were brought in for a "development day." Instead, nine of us were marched into a room with our CEO and HR representative, and fired. Our jobs were deemed redundant, because we are moving into a new facility. New jobs would be posted online, and we were welcome to reapply.

We were expected to work for the next eight weeks and train our replacements, should we not be hired. They even fired the woman on maternity leave. My question, after such terrible treatment: Should we reapply for our jobs? We are an amazing team who have worked together for the past few years and the library recently scored a rating of 98 per cent on a municipality satisfaction survey. The No. 1 reason people gave such a high rating was "the staff." Felt like a slap in the face, to be told our jobs don't exist any more.

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THE FIRST ANSWER

Eileen Chadnick Principal of Big Cheese Coaching and Chadnick Communications, Toronto

Some organizations handle the layoff process better than others. That said, the question you posed is whether or not to apply for a job in this new context.

This is an individual choice. But do not decide from your current emotions. Your indignation over being let go is real and I empathize, but it isn't going to serve you well.

Instead, look at the situation from the lens of career possibility. What if you could get your job back? What if the new library offered even more opportunity for you? What if some (or all) of your colleagues were rehired?

There are many unknowns as the dust settles. Will you regret not applying?

You live in a small town. Will you need to commute for another job? Will you need to cast a wider net beyond library work? Will this matter to you?

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If you are rehired, you can certainly move on if the fit doesn't feel right later. But if you don't apply, you won't have the chance to try it out.

Whichever way you go, change is afoot. That can be a good thing, but only if you embrace it as an opportunity.

THE SECOND ANSWER

Eileen Dooley Vice-president of Gilker McRae, Calgary

The management of the company brought you into the room under false pretenses.

This is a huge mistake, bringing mistrust and dishonesty to the already difficult meeting that was going to take place.

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Layoffs are hugely sensitive and should be met with as much empathy and respect for the process as the employer can deliver.

Starting off the meeting with dishonesty takes away any notion of respect and dignity for the employee.

Your employer should have communicated that a staff meeting was to take place, and leave it at that. Getting people either curious or excited about a "development day" was the wrong approach.

That said, although the employer has invited you to reapply for a similar role, you have been sent a message about where your future lies within the organization.

In fact, if there are alternative ways to contribute to the company, wouldn't they have offered you a different role to begin with?

They ended your employment in a very public, dishonest and insensitive way. Move on to an employer that has different ethical standards when it comes to hiring and laying off employees.

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Got a burning issue at work? Need help navigating that mine field? Let our Nine To Five experts help solve your dilemma. E-mail your questions to ninetofive@globeandmail.com

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