Ask Anne: Entering and Exiting


I’m hoping to go back to work after being out of the workforce for some time.  I don’t want to take just any position, but I don’t really know where to start.

Glad you asked.

  1. Define the terms of your work. Think back to a job you loved, or a class in school where you soared, then answer these:
  • What does your ideal day look like?
  • What is your ideal work environment?
  • What kind of people do you work best with?
  • Do you enjoy working with a team best or do you enjoy working alone best?
  • How many hours a day are you committed to working?
  • Do you want to go home at the end of the day and leave work at the office?
  • How far are you willing to drive to get to a job?
  • How much flexibility do you need and want?
  • Do you like project-based work or ongoing, day-to-day routine work?

Answering these questions before starting back to work will help you define your ideal work situation. The perfect environment may not appear, but at least you’ll have a roadmap for what you’re looking for.


  1. Utilize your network. Tell everyone you’re re-entering the workforce. Make sure to let your network know the terms you’re looking for in a new position. If you’ve been out of the workforce for a long time, I suggest identifying a few new role models — people you admire or ones who work for companies you find interesting. Ask them to lunch and talk about what they do and what they like about their company. People love to talk about themselves! In the short run, these new “friends” may help you get a meeting.


  1. Get new skills, if needed. Are your skills outdated? An initial investment of time and money may be valuable as you re-enter the workforce.


  1. Use resources. Check out online resources, like the Missouri Workforce Development website, and staffing agencies. You can access training seminars, mock interviews, and more from these resources. Good luck.






I work in an office that has one person who is a newer entry into the workforce. She’s a very nice person, but her demeanor is just not professional. She’s short with people when answering questions, takes shortcuts when she shouldn’t, etc. I know she’s not the right fit for our company. How do I tactfully terminate her employment?


I’ve learned that there are a few things you should do to terminate an employee effectively, fairly, and gently. Most of all, I’ve learned to avoid making snap decisions: to take a step back and think about it for a day before taking the next step.


  • Don’t wait until Friday. Get it over with quickly and early in the week. Let everyone move on.
  • Bring a hankie, a witness, and information. You’ll need to explain the reason for the termination — be brief and avoid an argument. Provide any exit information he or she will need and let the person know about future references, benefits, termination compensation, or separation agreements.
  • If applicable, offer a written referral. Sometimes, people are just not a good fit for one reason or another. If it’s a case of fit rather than attitude, you might want to offer a referral during the termination. If you’re not permitted to do that in your role, make sure to express you’ll be a personal reference. But don’t write a reference you aren’t prepared to back it up — that is, don’t offer a reference if they don’t deserve it.


It’s never an easy decision to let an employee go, but it is often the right one. I’ve had people hug me after such a meeting! It truly can be the best decision for everyone. Just make sure you go about it the right way.



Anne Williams is the president of JobFinders. She is not an attorney. All content in this column is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality and is not to be construed as legal advice.

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