I work for a major tech company, one that is/was recently in the news for layoffs, and I get that that doesn’t narrow things down much. I’m not immediately impacted. Many are.
This is my best effort at a salient list of what to do if you found/find yourself on the receiving end of a difficult conversation, a last-minute scheduled meeting with HR, or a sterile email. (I am glad to be working at a place where it wasn’t the latter).
- Read Everything – I mean really read it. Don’t gloss over the letter/notice/information you’re given, read everything and make sure you read everything before you sign anything. You should be given time to read it and review it with someone else if needed.
- Get answers to the questions you will have after reading everything:
- What happens with your health benefits? How long are you covered, is there COBRA?
- Can you claim unemployment insurance? (in some states you can after a layoff, and in some if you take a package, you can’t. Your state may vary, check the state site. Here’s that page for Washington State.
- What happens with your stock, specifically your unvested stock?
- What happens with your ESPP (if you participate)?
- What happens with your 401k?
- Are they offering employment assistance (e.g., helping you find another job)?
If it’s all happening NOW
- You’re going to feel overwhelmed, but you’ll need to do steps 1 and 2 above to the best of your ability. Don’t *sign anything* until you have to. Let the person who notified you know that you need time to review the notice with your SO, parent, roommate, whatever.
- Take a walk or scream into a pillow or take a hot shower or do something, anything to give yourself some space. Breathe.
- If you have a budget, revise it based on what your package will be (if you get one) and what your unemployment will be (if you get it).
- You can work with most companies (energy, mobile, etc.) to create payment plans and/or assistance depending on your circumstances. The reality is that some people live paycheck to paycheck and so if that’s you, start communicating early. This includes you credit card companies.
If you have time between now and D-Day
- Use your benefits. That means:
- Get your doctor’s appointments in, eyeglasses, dental, etc. *Same for any dependents*.
- If you have other perks, use them.
- Establish *how much time* you really have and what “normally” happens in that time:
- Do you have stock that vests? Do you contribute to your 401(k)? Do you participate in an ESPP (Employee Stock Purchase Program)?
- Do you have enough time to look for another role in the same company (large company layoffs are usually strategic and around projects, your skill set may work in another project).
- Should you start changing automatic deductions/drafts *now* to accommodate an uncertain future?
- Brush up your resume. This includes:
- Updating your work history
- Looking at current job listings at other companies/your companies and identifying how skill sets are being labeled/displayed “these days”
- Updating your LinkedIn profile
- Consider working with a contract or temporary agency – not glamorous, but it keeps you out there, it gets you exposure in companies, you get additional skill sets, and most importantly, it helps pay bills.
Your mileage may vary, and some may be in a better position than others. There is this perception that if you work in the tech sector, you have scads of cash just lying about for just such an occasion, and whilst there are those that do, there are those that do not. Not all tech sector jobs are high-income engineering, and things are tightening up.
We’ll get through it. It’s going to be rocky, but we’ll get through it.