Dear MPS: Should I Bite The Hand That Fed Me a Pink Slip?

A reader needs YOUR help! Please weigh in on her dilemma.

Dear Miss Pink Slip,

Now they want me back???

It’s been about three months since I was laid off. From hearing the words “we’re cutting back, and we won’t be able to afford your salary” to the roller coaster of emotions that followed, it’s been one of the most difficult experiences of my life. First, I wondered, “why me? Do they value me less than my colleagues?” Then, I began scanning the job sites religiously, looking for something…anything was better than scrapping by on a measly unemployment check that doesn’t even cover the mortgage. After three months of relentless job searching and networking, I’ve scored a couple interviews, but still no full-time gig. I’ve felt sad, depressed, anxious, nervous, helpless and finally, after a few months of going through all the emotions, I’ve come to a place where I’m actually…should I really say it…happy!

I’ve learned to enjoy the small things again, like cooking, organizing my closet, watching “Oprah”, working out, spending time with my family, actually getting a good night sleep — all the things I was constantly trying to fit into my schedule to no avail when I had a full-time job. I’ve also had time to do some soul searching and realized I was really unhappy. My former boss was, well…in three words, “Devil Wears Prada”. I worked crazy hours and I felt unappreciated. I was burned out, to say the least.

I’ve finally come to a place where I’m thankful I was laid off. I’ve been doing freelance work and even considering starting my own business. Then, today, I get a phone call from my former boss: 

“How are you? We miss you around here! It’s not the same without you.” Blah, blah, blah. This is what your previous employer is supposed to say, right? And of course it feels good to be missed since you wonder if they even thought twice about laying you off. Then she dropped the bomb: “We’d love for you to come back and help us. Can you work on a part-time basis?”

Now I’m stuck between continuing to collect my unemployment check while searching for a job I actually like, doing some freelance work and seeing if I can develop that into a business, or returning to a job I hate because, to put it bluntly, I need the $$. I mean, it’s part-time, so I could continue to do some freelance work, right? But, after three months, I’m actually happy. Do I put up with the emotional turmoil and drama that comes along with the job for the paycheck? Then, of course, there’s the question: does part-time really mean part-time or will it turn into full-time with part-time pay? If that happened, I’d have to put my foot down and possibly quit, which would mean I’m not eligible for unemployment benefits. It’s like the boyfriend you know you shouldn’t go back to, but the sex is so good.

I’m torn. Any advice would be much appreciated.

12 responses to “Dear MPS: Should I Bite The Hand That Fed Me a Pink Slip?

  1. This was such an inspiring post. I recently read a fantastic Women’s Health article where similar women shared how being laid off turned out to be the best thing that every happened to them.

    There are great articles on burn-outs, and it sounds like you might have been going through one. You should continue to look at the positives you have learned from your situation and I truly think you’ll be a better employee for it – especially if you are in a management position.

    I think it’s so bizarre that they only want you part-time. If you really enjoyed your job and value your relationship at that company, then certainly test the waters. But maybe go back and see if you can get a bump in salary, or maybe a notion of when you could be hired full time. Regardless, let your employer know that if you do decide to go part-time you are still looking for a full-time position. That’s 100% fair.

    Best of luck in all your endeavors.

  2. I would be very cautious returning. I was laid off in November from a position and company that I loved. During the initial month or two of unemployment, I would have given anything to go back, but as 7 months have passed I’ve caught myself wondering what I would do if they called. Here’s what I’ve come up with: You likened it to an old boyfriend. The sex may be good, but he did break up with you for a reason. Either the reason may return and he’ll dump you again, or it won’t but you’ll spend the entire relationship nervous that he’ll leave you in a mess of tears and tissues on the bathroom floor even if he doesn’t.
    Good luck with your decision!

  3. cuteellaisbold

    As one who left a similar boss I’d be hard pressed to find a reason to go back. I can go back there if I want, but I don’t know that the money is worth it. I took a signifigant pay cut to come to my current job, but between the money not spent on booze, shopping, therapy etc, and the fact that I’m happy and have time to do the things I enjoy, I don’t know that it would be even worth the $$ to go back. Also, the “Devil Wear’s Prada” boss will often make the “part time” into “full time” without the pay…maybe you could freelance for them?

  4. Don’t go back because I bet the part-time job turns into a full time job with part time pay!!! You didn’t seem very happy there before from what you said. You seem to be enjoying what you are doing now!!! Our lives are not about bills!!! Our life should be about how we can make this world a better place!!!! You should explore the gift and talents that you have. What will make you fulfilled?? I have a friend that said getting laid off her job was very hard but now looking back it was the best thing that ever happend to her!!! I’d say it’s like the boyfriend you know you should leave but you don’t want to be alone!!!

  5. As someone who’s experienced one of those “Devil Wears Prada” bosses, I say pass. It sounds like you’ve gotten yourself to a really positive place, and I’d hate for the negative energy from a bad work environment to derail your progress–sometimes, the money isn’t worth it. I also think that if you go back for part-time work with part-time pay, you won’t garner the same respect you once did in the workplace. Sounds like they’re desperate for a cheap worker bee–don’t let yourself be exploited for a few extra bucks. If they really appreciated you and valued your work, they would’ve treated you better the first time around.

    Keep taking your unemployment checks, pursuing your freelance dreams (feel free to drop me a line about freelancing–I turned my last layoff into a successful business, and I know EXACTLY what you’re going through right now) and pursue work and interests that you love and make you happy. You have a great attitude and amazing spirit–I have no doubt that you’ll find your way. Good luck!

  6. Thank you for all your responses! It made me realize it’s probably not worth it. Carrie, I’d love to contact you to chat. I’ll get your info from Miss Pink Slip if that’s okay. Thanks again for all the encouragement!

  7. Queretaro, Mexico

    While I have never experienced this, I believe you must follow your heart. Happiness is something that very few achieve and if you are able to remain without the job, then by all means go for it. Do you want to be the person that says “I love my job” or “it is just a job.” I wish you the best of luck and remember all things happen for a reason!

  8. Great point! I want to be the person who says I love my job for sure. Does that ever happen? It seems really rare these days. Most of the people I know are just so-so about their jobs. Maybe it’s the industry I work in…

  9. I’m one of those people who actually loves her job. It can happen. You have alot to offer, so don’t feel that you have to go back to a place where you were unhappy.

  10. You can contact me any time–! I may even reveal my true identity! 😉

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