Now What

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).

  1. 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.
  2. 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?

And then

  • 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.

Forcing Functions

I am staring down a forcing function Then Me put into place for Now Me, and would like to have a talk with Then Me. To be clear: Now Me knows Then Me was right. In just a little over six weeks I need to be able to run 9.3 miles (15k), and I have successfully run recently as far as… 3. Three miles. If you are doing math and saying, “hm… you can make it, but just barely”, you’re right.

This year I turn 50, which is a nice round number. This year also marks the fifteenth anniversary of when I first started running – I was at a birthday party and a friend waited until after the second glass to let me know we were all running in the Seattle Half Marathon (2008). When I told my (then boyfriend) he laughed, which was all the incentive I needed to actually do it. At 50, incentives require a bit more “oomph”. Signing up for events as forcing functions is one of the “oomph” things, reminding myself of the health benefits is another. But oh, it’s hard to wake up when it’s gray and rainy and tell myself I need to go running up my hill (I live on a hill. No matter which way I leave my house, there will be hills to run).

I also have purchased a Smart Scale. The Smart Scale is quite smart – so smart that it talks to my phone, and it talks to My Fitness Pal, and it talks to Apple Health, and it blabs about all of my intransigence, including my lean mass and therefore also my body fat percentage. You’re not supposed to weigh yourself every day, more like once a week. So naturally, I weigh myself every day. In the olden days, I could step on the scale, and if it said you weigh NNN.4, I could say, “well we can just round that down to NNN” and put that manually into my phone. Now… now my scale tells on me, with that blunt matter-of-factness that I know I do to other people sometimes, and now I understand the look they give me when I do that. It’s not that I (or the scale) am/are *wrong*, it’s just that the message could be a little softer.

I do know what I have to do to get the numbers to go in the correct direction, but after a Holiday Season TM stretching from October to early January, it’s hard to convince yourself that cauliflower rice is really that good, and that you shouldn’t have that cookie. Four months of “I’ll take care of it later” have come home to roost.

The problem with all of these forcing functions is they also come with a dollop of potential backfire: at my age (and this is not me pitying being nearly 50, it’s me celebrating it but being honest about some of the constraints of it) you can injure yourself a lot easier by pushing too hard, and having taken a nasty fall a couple of years back I don’t want to do that. I’ve started lifting recently and got lectured by my PT for not stretching adequately (such that standing up “straight” had me pivoted slightly to the left; my left hand was correctly at my side, but my right hand was about 3″ forward). It’s a balancing act, and when you layer on the realities of the current working environment and just being an adult in general there’s a lot of room for failure … and improvement.

And so, I have my forcing functions, and I’m trying to expand them… as long as they’re not too forceful.