Hypothetical as things stand now, but it has happened to me in the past and I didn't find a good Q&A already on here.
Scenario: Due to business conditions (cost cutting), a change in direction by the company (exiting that particular business area) or something similar we were called into a meeting by the head honchos of our organizational unit -- subsequently followed up with information in writing -- and told that our roles will no longer exist pending successful completion of a winding up / outsourcing project in, let's say, September 2019 (it's March now, so approx 6 months). This layoff would affect myself and around 50 other people who work at this location.
There have been several rounds of layoffs before but generally in a much shorter time frame i.e. 1 month's notice that the people would no longer have a place in that company (and fewer people affected at a time). There's been a total of 3 rounds of layoffs that I can think of in 7 years.
Question: Leaving out considerations of personal circumstances (i.e.... do I need a continued paycheck and cannot take any risk), would it be better-perceived in the future, e.g. in other interviews, to look for other employment now and leave voluntarily (forfeiting the severance package which would be around $15,000) or to stick it out until the end and then begin looking when in the final notice period?
- there's a retention bonus of $5,000 if I stay until the end (but would then be forced to look for new work quickly)
- most of my work in the "interim" period would be knowledge transfer and successful winding down which needs to be done correctly and I'm the "key" person for that
- there's a definite time period given (6 months) but I think it's likely that this will slip and so it could go on and on in the future with "we are likely to need another 3 months" etc.
- I'm a "senior" relative to other members of my team (e.g. I train new people and coach people on things they are struggling with) but I'm not a manager and certainly not a CxO type!
In future interviews, if asked about why I left this company, I'm not sure if it's acceptable to say something like "I had been told that our unit would be closing in 6 months time so I jumped early rather than stick it out and left others to pick up the pieces" (obviously I wouldn't say exactly that in an interview, but it would become apparent from further questioning!)
I don't know if it's a bad thing to put across, or if employers want someone who will "go down with the ship" so to speak?
I would especially appreciate answers from current or previous "Hiring Managers" as to how you would perceive either situation.
ETA based on the suggested "duplicate" question: in this situation I'm not part of a "pool" of people of which 'some' will be laid off. It would be a complete closure or outsourcing of that whole unit (so there isn't a chance for someone else out of my 5-person team to keep their job, for example). We have been told that "these are the positions that will be laid off" (including myself) not just "we need to cut 1000 out of 3000 (or whatever) people".
My impressions: (not really part of the question) that leaving the situation early rather than just resign myself to my fate and then take whatever action I am forced into as I'm now unemployed... is sort of a "passive" way to do things. Jumping early I would see as "saw how a situation was panning out and took positive direction to change it rather than just go along with the inevitable" but that's my personal viewpoint rather than a view of a company!
However giving up a "guaranteed" severance of $15,000 and a retention bonus of $5,000 does seem like it could be perceived as "gambling" and being very risk seeking. (Actually I do have a fairly high risk tolerance which may be affecting the whole situation) and playing devils advocate as the employer I don't know if I would want someone who "gambled" $20k on the chance of a new job being better than the one they could get in 6 months time!