By: Revanche

Reactions to layoff news

December 5, 2008

An official announcement hasn’t been made, but the word is that our entire staff is likely to be laid off in a few months. You might know that SOP for layoffs is denial until the moment of truth, no matter how wrong I think that is.

Call it naivete, but I certainly did not expect to run a gamut of emotions when my prediction months ago was confirmed. Keeping in mind the huge numbers of people being laid off, at best, I expected frustration, a little tiny bit of vindication that I was right, and a readiness to move on. It turns out I’m not that simple. And that I play devil’s advocate with myself even when I’m upset. Read on ….

There are about ten thousand ways that this could have been prevented. Really. This is not a poor-economy related issue, this was a bad management issue, and it’s no surprise.

Unsurprised or not, it ticks me off, royally, that management wouldn’t change their ways even when we were in a poor negotiating position. They continued to act as though they had the power to make demands, break promises and generally acted the fools. That led directly to the current situation.

I’m not ready for this! I associate unemployment with (immediate) brokeness. Even though I know approximately how many months I would last without a drop of income, there’s still a visceral reaction that a major emergency will eat up all that money and I’ll immediately go into debt trying to survive without a steady paycheck.
That’s silly. I’ve taken a few months off between jobs, without having a job, having less in the bank before. Yes, that was four years ago when the outlook wasn’t terrible and I wasn’t paying all household expenses. But I’ve got the budget, the e-fund, the cushion. And it’s not like I haven’t supported other friends while they downsized and job-hunted and become re-employed in the last six months. This is survivable.

Even though I brought my A-game every single day, regardless of the politics and turmoil, I’m actually a little ashamed that I didn’t manage to save us. And is there stigma attached to being laid off? Even in this environment?
There shouldn’t be, and I can confidently state that it’s through no fault of my own. My performance and abilities are respected, even if it feels like management’s failures reflect on me.

This wasn’t advertised except to a select few but I’ve been preparing and job-hunting during the last few months. My tolerance for the BS was about to crack spectacularly so I took steps to prevent going postal. The resume was perfected in August, and I’ve been quietly applying to new jobs while working insane hours and trying to keep up with everything else. Nothing has resulted so far, and even though I know, intellectually, that the job search while holding a full time job combined with a downturn in the economy means that it’s going to take longer, I still can’t help but mentally wring my hands for a minute.
Or file this under frustration.

How are the people who DO know the intimate details managing to pretend everything is status quo?

There’s a sense of regret that a huge part of my life is going away.
Why on earth would I feel like I’m losing something leaving this job? It’s been a major source of frustration and negativity for months. Yet, there it is.

I’m not at all inspired to work, work hard, and work well today. Considering I work through natural disasters, this is a little different. Because of the combination of the above emotions, I just don’t care today. It doesn’t matter whether or not I perform well today, as I did yesterday or the day before that. I’m still going to be out of a job.
Except that’s not true. I still have my pride and self-respect, and at the end of the day, that’s what I’ll be taking home with me. Among other things I’ll be taking home with me: my work laptop, that lovely new spindle of CD-RWs, and a lifetime supply of pens and toilet paper. Nick at Punny Money says it’s ok.

I’m kidding!!!

So the other side of all this? Barring the part where I’m not making any money because that’s not good no matter how you spin it, this is motivation to search even more diligently for a new job while I still have one.

This is a chance to start fresh, and that’s not such a bad thing. Sure, being the bottom of the employment totem pole is not where I want to be, but there’s nothing saying that that’s the only place I’ll get hired. I’m not entry-level, I’ve got great skills, I work damn hard, and have an excellent reputation. Now I have to learn to sell whatever doesn’t shine through in a cover letter and resume.

At the end of the day, Pandora’s Box still had one important thing to give, and that’s what I’ll hold on to: Hope. Hope that better things are still to come, hope that I’m resilient enough to handle this change, hope that this isn’t the straw that breaks this camel’s back after all the nonsense that’s gone before. (Hope that this time next year I won’t be reporting that I’m completely broke, in debt and at the end of my rope……!)

Despite all the negativity and doubt, deep down, I still have faith that there are ways to get past this rather ugly situation. There are, I just have to find and implement them.

In my frustration after my farce of a review early this year, I decided that I wanted to be ready to pick up my purse and saunter out without a moment’s regret. That’s how ticked I’ve been with the poor team building, blatant double standards and favoritism-based policies. I cleared out my desk then, and have only kept food here since. Not having to “stick it out” under this sort of stress because it’s practical is kind of a huge weight off. Or I’m trading for a different weight. 🙂

Did I say I was de-motivated? That’s only in terms of this job right now, not the next one. I’m absolutely charged with the energy to find the next place where I can give my time and dedication to a good cause. (And receive a good check, in return, of course!!)

Alternate plan
If I don’t land anything before the layoff? I’ll take my severance, and my unemployment, and go nanny my best friend’s newborn for a couple months while I continue to job hunt. The timing’s about right. They’ll “pay” me room and board, and I’ll pay for COBRA. And thank PF-blogging for a good emergency fund. But what to do with my parents …..

Edit: I forgot to link to this great article guest posted by Jacques Sprenger at The Digerati Life: Are you in Financial Trouble? Money Tips to Cope with Hard Times.

6 Responses to “Reactions to layoff news”

  1. mOOm says:

    I’m sorry to hear that. Your reactions seem pretty natural to me. Do you need to get some help with the job search – either finding the opportunities or improving your application? Probably it’s just the state of the US economy and your industry also has issues (maybe). At least your metro area is rather big (I think).

  2. Karen says:

    I’m sorry to hear this. But you’ve got a good head on you shoulders and a plan. That will go a long way in managing the situation.

  3. J. Money says:

    oh wow, i SOOOO hope that doesn’t happen! my emotions would go the same direction as yours though…it’s really the whole “unknown” for me.

    i find it MUCH better to cope to all good and bad things as long as you know what’s up.

    i hope (and pray) you’ll be alright 🙂

  4. Sense says:

    oh no! that is terrible news. I had hoped you would be able to leave your job on your own terms, not their’s. That lack of control can bring some pretty crazy emotions, no matter how prepared you are–all of which seem very normal.

    You are resilient. You will be absolutely fine. I know it.

  5. Revanche says:

    moom: I would not turn down a helping hand, perhaps via email? Yes, and yes, I do agree with both of your points.

    karen: thanks for the moral support, I’ve got my fingers crossed. Sadly, unless something really crazy happens, it’s 99% going through. Thanks for the positive thinking, I appreciate it!

    sense: RE: leaving on my own terms: Me too, that’s exactly what I first grumped about. I still hope that I can – I have a little time unless some bright bulb really advances the higher ups’ agenda.

  6. mOOm says:

    I wasn’t thinking of myself as the reviewer/adviser on this but either some peer/colleague in your industry (maybe in another city/state) and/or someone professional in career counseling etc. I could look at what you have but it would be based on what I am guessing makes sense in your industry based on my general knowledge (some of it helping students). Academia which I am very familiar with has rather different standards than most other industries in terms of cover letters/resumes etc (they’re not even called resumes). Maybe Madame X (myopenwallet) would be a good place to start?

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