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Thursday, July 17, 2008

There is going to be a layoff and.....

I first heard those words in May, 1983. My manager, Ming the Merciless* called me in at 9 AM in the morning.

"There is going to be a layoff," he said, "and it is going to affect you."

Well, Hell Ming* I knew there was going to be a layoff. I had already come in early and cleaned out my desk.

I got a heads up the day before. Facilities always knew ahead of time and I had friends of friends over there. The word leaked out. I was on the list.

It's OK, Ming

Of course a month ago, sensing things were going to get bad I had gone out and interviewed with another company and had gotten a nice offer. I took it into Ming and he told me in effusive and flowery language that the company really wanted me to stay and that I would be one of the last ones ever laid off.

It's OK, Ming. You don't have to go through the whole script. Legal had given him one those layoff scripts. Some managers just can't do it on the their own.

I was already out the door. Just end the damn speech. I am ready to go already.

Ming felt guilty and slung me some extra severance. I just thanked him for not throwing me to the clay people or vaporizing me with the death ray.

Ready to go, Ming.

This was my first layoff. There were two more to follow. Another in 1986 and my last official one on 1992.

So I have been to the show. Rich knows layoffs.

So here are just a few of the dozen or so BIG RULES that I have learned about layoffs.

1. Get out of Dodge quickly. I try to get out of the building as quickly as I can. I do best when I move on. I can always send an email or phone people I care about back there. But I can't tarry. I need to move on because I am now looking for another job and it's not back there. It's out there. So I want to get out there as quickly as possible.

I have a good friend who had 17 boxes of personal stuff in his office when the reaper finally caught up with him. It took him all day to get out of town. Now he is working for a new company but he keeps his personal stuff at home.

2. Start networking as soon as possible. It's going to take time to get your job search momentum going. You may stumble onto something early on but for the rest of us, it takes time. 5-10 touches a day. A touch is an email, a phone call or coffee, breakfast, lunch or dinner related to your search. By the way, it can take 100-200 touches to get a job. So get going!

3. Don't spend too much time focusing on the resume. I hear people say all the time "Oh, I have to work on my resume and then I will kick things into gear." Since most jobs are filled through referral, who you know is way more important than what your resume looks like.

4. Don't stop pushing your search until you have a signed offer letter for a job you want. It's way too easy to lose momentum if you reign in and it is hard to get the ball rolling again.

Layoffs aren't for sissies. You have to man up (or woman up). The search process, as tough as it can often be, makes you more self reliant and let's you know that you have the ability to find another job.

No job is the job. No company is the company. Remember that. Give them 100% while you are there but understand, it can be yanked away any time a company sees fit. All you have is your skills and knowledge and ability to find another place to work. You can take that anywhere.

*Ming is not my manager's real name. I called him this to protect his actual identity. I mean if you knew his actual name was Jim, that would make it much easier for you to figure out who this guy actually was.

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