This piece is a continuation of the piece I wrote last night about the economy and the mass layoff. Layoff is just a way of life in corporate America (note this includes non-for-profit org as well). There are couple things in the US about layoff that makes life harder: 1) The health insurance is usually associated with employment for lots of white collar jobs, losing a job also usually means the loss of health insurance of the employee, let’s say if that employee is the breadwinner of the family, that also means the family will lose health insurance. This is both costing money and inconvenient. 2) Unemployment insurance: usually it pays between $350 to $600 per week (depends on the state, living cost etc), the duration (usually 6 months) usually depends on state too. These are practical things or consequences, some employers do offer some severance pay (but usually most US employers don’t have generous severance pay). So in this scenario, the money let’s say $2400 a month is not enough to cover both health insurance for a family and a mortgage (or rent), not to mention food and car payments. Please note there was a survey last year that 40% of American does not have $400 in the bank.
There is other factors that come to play as well, in many cases those factors are actually more significant compared to the money side of the things. Let’s assume this person or family has enough money to survive before the impacted employee finds a new job. Let’s just say the other spouse brings enough bacon home. The main thing I want to say, from my personal experience is the stigma, or the rejection feeling from the layoff experience. I have seen in couple cases, grown up coworkers, cannot stop crying when they were asked to leave. I think maybe it’s the first time they experience this. Fortunately for me, I have seen these movies before personally experiencing something like this. There could be signs (looking back), such as the announcement of potential layoffs from CEO, or the secretary (admin assistant) looking away when I looked at her a few days before layoff (again this was a small company, and they did not do things large orgs do: their ways of orchestrate is more sophisticated, and usually not given away quickly. It’s very hard to overcome the rejection feeling, my personal experience this is a bit like dating a girl, and being rejected. Usually only time can heal to some extent, one may say “move on to next girl friend or next job”, but for some people I think this feeling never truly or 100% goes away. But it’s something we need to manage or control. Because those ill feeling is not good for health. One bible verse I like on this topic is: And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us (Mt 6: 12). I recall seen a passage on a friend’s desk the day after I found out my contract ended earlier I thought: I was expecting to convert to full time employee after certain time.
The most useful advice I received once is the lady who is a consultant hired by the employer, and her job is help transition (polish resume, job search strategy etc). I actually did not go to their sessions. But on that fateful day, the thing left me impression is “take care of yourself first“. Basically step back, recoup, take some rest, before restart. Usually I was not in that type of fortunate position (again the breadwinner role in my family). we usually do have some savings but don’t want to burn the cash too fast. I recall in 2011 when I experienced this the first time, I still went to the Bread Co. for dinner (to go), and I think we had about 40k in the bank, but feel a bit uneasy about spending $20 or $30 for family dinner: myself, my wife and one year old daughter. In the most recent experience, due to my age, I feel the age discrimination is prevalent (it’s illegal in the US, but many places practice this anyway, because it’s hard to find evidence for candidates). Another reason in the job search situation, it’s usually buyer’s market, unless the labor market is unusually tight or hot.
Ironically, due to my new job, I have interviewed (mostly tech screen) many candidates for developers, or architect position since last July. I will write up some job search strategy, and interview tips in my next series. Do remember another tip: this is something I heard from a wise gentleman (law professor), he said “it may not necessarily a bad thing for you, as it gives you some new perspectives and look for new things otherwise you don’t proactively go out and search”. So there is that: a wise perspective.