Posts Tagged ‘layoff’


When “Time Off” Is Not A Vacation

   Posted by: Michael Bernier   in Today's Reality

The past two weeks since being laid off have been anything but dull.

The first week actually felt like I was on vacation, probably from the feeling of relief following two weeks of heads-down work updating documentation and training my replacement. I was able to sleep in late (if you consider 8:30am late), take care of some things around the house I’d been meaning to work on, and generally relax. I was checking my ex-company’s online job board each day to see if new positions were opening up, and I did apply for a couple that seemed to fit my background. I also got word from a former co-worker about an opening on her team that she thought I should apply for…it’s in an area I’m not as comfortable with, but she assured me my background would be very useful in the role, so I applied for it as well. She said she’d be looking for the application to come through. The week ended on a pretty good note, and I felt very confident that my next job was just around the corner.

Then came the second week. Silence. No replies to my applications, not even the one I had “inside help” with applying (at last word she’s trying to contact the recruiter to find out where my application is in the pipeline). I started getting letters from my former employer about what I no longer had access to, reminding me how my severance would be paid, what it would cost to continue my medical benefits through COBRA, options for rolling over my 401K, etc.

Stuff’s getting real, I thought.

It was time to buckle down… so I dug into the information I was getting from a representative assigned to me from the job coaching company my ex-employer is paying for me to use for the next four months. At his request I had sent a copy of my current four-page detailed resume for analysis, and he came back with what I call “the usual list” of tips and suggestions – “you must have a summary statement”, “you shouldn’t list more than 10 years worth of experience”, “highlight accomplishments, not skills”, “keep the resume to no more than two pages”, and so on. I don’t care who you are, none of those are easy to do when you have a technical career that spans over three decades, and you have no idea what training or experiences from all of that time may be just what an employer is looking for… but I decided to humor the guy and give it a whirl. I started hacking away, eliminating entire sections and completely rewriting others, and by the end I had a document that was just under two pages in length as he requested. It doesn’t have all those details I felt were important to keep, but it does point out the most important aspects of each position I’ve held. I said to myself, we’ll run with this a while and see what happens. I have all the stuff I removed in a second document I can provide if needed. If you’re interested in seeing a comparison of the two, let me know.

His next suggestion was to update my social media accounts to reflect my job change. I have two accounts, one on Facebook (who doesn’t?) and one on LinkedIn, which for those who don’t know is a site that focuses strictly on business people and has been around longer than Facebook. I decided to not only update my employment status on both, but also to update my online job history on LinkedIn with the revisions I made to my resume. Will it make a difference? We’ll see.

In the meantime, I got some help from an unexpected direction. A classmate of mine from high school contacted me through Facebook and asked me to forward a copy of my resume to him. In turn, he put me in touch with one of his company’s recruiters in my area. He was the first business person I’d talked with since my layoff, and we had a delightful conversation about my situation, background, and what sort of position I was looking for. He said he would check with his clients to see if they had any openings, which made me feel good about the day… but it was something else he said during the conversation that made my entire week: he mentioned after looking over my resume that I have “very marketable skills.” Now that doesn’t sound like much, but coming from a person who has never met me before and has only my resume to go by, that meant the world to me. Maybe that job coach’s ideas for restructuring my resume weren’t so bad after all?

So, now I begin my third week of unemployment. I expect I will be even busier, working all the job boards and searches, sending out inquiries, doing some networking, and hoping to land at least one job interview with some company somewhere. Just to get to an interview will be a major accomplishment even if I don’t get an offer, since it means they’re at least interested enough in what I’ve done to talk to me.

Wish me luck!



“But How Do You Feel?”

   Posted by: Michael Bernier   in Today's Reality

Well, the layoff finally took place last Friday. It really hasn’t registered in my head just yet; since it was at the end of the regular work week, it’s felt more like an ordinary weekend the past two days. The coming morning will certainly change all that. I sat down and did some simple math this past afternoon… since I graduated from high school in 1980, I have been totally unemployed a total of one week. Yes, that’s right – one week in over 35-1/2 years. That one week was in 1987 between leaving my co-op student job at IBM and starting a temp job at Coca-Cola. I surprised myself with that one. While I’ve been looking for another position since I was notified about the layoff, it’s going to take on an entirely new meaning for me starting tomorrow.

The first question people have asked me, and continued to ask all through the past two weeks is, how do I feel about what’s happening? That’s a fair question, but it seems so cliche at the same time because it’s usually the “only” question anyone seems to want to hear. Why is that? I suppose it’s because people want to find some sort of connection with the person being questioned, some way of sharing the emotions of someone who may be a total stranger but for that one thin line of feeling. I don’t really have a desire to establish emotional connections to people I may have never met before; to me, most emotions are personal – something to be shared with family and close friends who won’t take them and twist them around or use them in some distorted way for their own amusement or personal gain.

But for those who are still curious, let me respond with the message I sent to my manager and as many of my now-former co-workers as I could on my last day (the subject line of my e-mail was “Happy Trails”, and I’ve removed the name of the company to avoid any conflicts):


In less than an hour, I will be walking out of the Plano office for what may be the last time. Before I do, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank each of you for the support and the good wishes I have received regarding the end of my position with ___ and the hopes for my future. I have no bitter feelings over the decision that was made, and I will be leaving the same way I arrived – with a smile.

I have to say it’s been quite a ride over the years, but it’s been made all the more pleasant and memorable thanks to the people I’ve been honored to work with. There are many more co-workers I wish I could include here, but most of them have already moved off to other places. If you happen across any of them, please pass along my best wishes.

I still don’t know yet where I will be going or what I will be working on next; I will continue to check for available internal openings as long as I’m allowed, while searching elsewhere as well. My hope is to land on my feet quickly and continue my career, be it with another group in ___ or elsewhere. Any suggestions or leads you might come across would be appreciated.

Will our paths cross again? I would like to think so. But in case they don’t, or you’re just wanting to chat a bit about how things are going, here’s how you can reach me:

[here I listed my personal contact information]

In closing, again I wish to say “thanks for the memories” and I look forward to hearing from you again in the future.

I’ll leave it to you to figure out what my feelings were at the time.  And when you do, there’s no need to share – you’ll spoil the fun for everyone else! LOL


A Door Is Closing… Where’s The Next One?

   Posted by: Michael Bernier   in Today's Reality

I was officially notified on Monday (the 11th) that my position at work had been eliminated and that I was being laid off. My last day of working for my employer will be at the end of next week (the 22nd)…if…

if what?

…if I can’t find another position within the company between now and 60 days after my last day. During this time I’m in what they call a “preferential rehire status” which means I can be hired into another position without any special conditions. My application for any open positions will be considered before they look at established employees who are just looking to move into a new job. Or at least, that’s what I’m being told. In the past it’s taken as long as three weeks to hear back on a position I’ve applied for; I applied for four positions in the last 24 hours, so we’ll see if it’s any faster now that I’m in this “preferential” status.

When I met with my manager to discuss this, I received assurances that the decision was not based on a lack of work, or my job performance, or through any fault of my own or of anyone else on the team. It was good to hear that I hadn’t done something to cause this to happen.

My job position may have been eliminated, but the work hasn’t gone away. Someone still has to be around to do the things I do, but it won’t be me. Instead, a seemingly forthright gentleman located in a Central America country will be picking up the work…and I’m spending my remaining days on the job training him. All I can promise is by the end of the two weeks he’ll be able to find where things are and have a rough idea of how things work. I can’t really pass along the intuition I’ve learned, the experiences I’ve had, and the techniques I’ve developed for solving the unique problems that come with the job. Some of those come from being on the same client account for 15 years, and based on the photo I’ve seen of my replacement, he was probably in middle school when I joined the account. I’m not saying he isn’t talented – not by a long shot – but in a team as small as the one I’m in, sometimes long-term experiences can be critical to keeping the work moving. But, I suppose the folks who came up with this layoff plan didn’t think about that…

In the meantime, while I’m looking for another job I’ll be getting severance pay, which is a good thing. What they’ve offered me is pretty decent compared to what I’ve heard some people were given in previous layoffs. It doesn’t beat having a full-time job with full benefits, something I’ve enjoyed for almost all of my adult life, but it’s better than nothing at all… especially when you have things to pay for like a mortgage, utilities, car payments, groceries, a kid in college, etc. But, I suppose the folks who came up with this layoff plan didn’t think about that either…

So, what exactly did the folks who came up with this layoff plan think about?

Numbers. Strictly numbers.

Numbers, as in how much does it cost to have an employee in the U.S. to do the work compared to an employee in a Central American country to do the work? I don’t know the details, but my guess is the cost of living down there is significantly lower, and given the age of my replacement he’s probably at a lower wage level and benefit costs than me (at least I would hope so!). Looking at those points alone would be plenty of justification, especially if you multiply that by the thousands of employees that my employer plans to lay off in the near future. The savings in terms of numbers would be substantial - millions upon millions of dollars each year once you roll in all the ancillary costs like benefits packages.

And just to add some extra points to ponder, consider this last little tidbit: Remember that “if” I talked about back at the beginning? Well, there’s another part to it: if I am unsuccessful in being hired for another open position by the end of those 60 days after my last day, their current layoff rules say I can never work for them ever again.

Never, like I don’t exist.

While I was searching through their open job list, I saw hundreds of open positions. Imagine for a moment that there was a large pool of people who are trained, willing, and able to take on every single one of them… but they can’t be hired because they used to work for the same company just a few years ago. Seems like quite a waste of valuable resources available for the picking. But, I suppose the folks who came up with this layoff plan didn’t think about that either…

So, now what? Well, as I alluded to in the title of this entry, the door to my old job is closing, and as the saying goes another door should be opening. I haven’t seen it yet, but I sure hope it opens soon…and I hope that whatever is behind it is better than what I’m being asked to leave behind.