Feb 28 2012

Something is very fishy!

This isn’t about being laid off so much as to leaving with style!

I worked as an art director for a very small 4-person advertising agency. My boss, the owner, had many personal issues – His short stature, Huge ego, raging coke addiction, wife who we nicknamed Maris (from Frasier TV show). She was never seen in the office, but always commented to our boss/troll on our work/ideas.

This was a horrible gig, but a good stepping stone as I was able to create some good work. We were housed in a industrial complex in a desert city in Southern California and while the front office looked great (we marketed real estate and Maris was a “interior designer”) the studio was in the back, with poor AC, and a industrial heater that could remove hair at 10 feet.

After a 2-3 weeks of daily post-its from Maris trying to tweak my designs (and always changing her mind) I’d had enough. The coked-out troll didn’t that the balls to make the final decision and Maris avoided day-light and human interaction so I was forced to deal with her via plethora of festive colored post-its, or a phone message that always started with her nasal exhaling from a cigarette and the words – “Markie, darling”. Just typing that makes my sphincter tighten. Anyways, I digress.

I was soon hired by our #1 competitor and when I gave two weeks notice, he countered he wanted me gone as soon as I finished my last project which was due July 3rd. He & Maris were going to a chi-chi spa (I’m betting a swingers thing) the next week so he was shutting the office down after the 4th and for the next week (unpaid for the staff – thanks boss!).

I decided on the 3rd to come in early to clean my desk out and I bought a nice big fish at the 24-hour supermarket on my way in. Before anyone arrived, I placed “Bert the bass” in a aluminium roasting pan and placed him above the false ceiling in the troll’s office.
I’m sure when they all arrived back after 12 days, that it smelled like that job did.

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This post was submitted by Markie.


Feb 22 2012

The Right Place at the Wrong Time

2012 looks to be a year with new beginnings as it already begins with one big end. I think everyone that gets laid off rests in a fuzzy “did that really happen” state of mind for a while after they get the ax. That’s certainly how I feel after being laid off just 2 days after my 2 year anniversary with my company. I also think everyone who gets hit in this position will be asking themselves the question to which they may never get the answer – “Why me?”

My first response after embarrassingly being escorted out the building was a strange state of acceptance. But as that day kept going I kept getting what could only be described as an instant pop bubble appear over my head that read, “You don’t have a job anymore.” Now, as the weekend comes to an end and I begin to realize I have nothing to wake up to on Monday. I remain very upset with the situation, as well anyone in this situation should be.

The marketing company I worked for gave me a few wonderful experiences I am grateful for which only makes the lay-off that much worse. After everything I’ve done, after all that’s been set up for me in the future… this is how it ends? This past summer I actually volunteered to work overseas for 3 months in a new client services role, different from my role back here in the states. The experience was amazing. The exposure within the company was overwhelming and I’ll always remember that amazing time I had.

When I returned I was placed back into my previous position but with the work my superiors were pleased I accomplished they had their eyes on me for something bigger once the moment came available. I was eventually approached about a special projects role I’d be filling when the time came but in the meantime my original role remained.

Month after month passed. No change. I’d ask, “Any updates on the new team getting started?” “No updates yet,” my future boss would say. As time went on I became a little humiliated each time my peers would ask me, “So when are they moving you over to something else?” Everyone expected me to move on from my original department and clearly noticed how nothing was changing. I remained content because some role is better than no role at all.

Then comes a Friday like any other. My future boss calls me as soon as I sit at my desk. As I walked upstairs I wondered if the time had finally come where I’d be deployed off to a special assignment. “Have a seat. We’re just waiting for ______ ,” he said. That’s where I got scared. This person worked in HR and could only mean Death was about to come walking in.

“The company is reducing staff right now and you’re position is being eliminated.”

“Okay?” I mean, what else could I really say?

All of the paperwork was then handed to me. The letter from the president, the separation agreement and a lot of other copy that you really wish you’d never have to see. I asked if I could sit somewhere and actually read it all since everything said to me was just mush due to my head saying a hundred things to myself. Cut back to me being escorted out of the building – As I said goodbye to my would’ve-been boss we shake hands and say our goodbyes. I saw in his eyes he genuinely felt bad about having to do this but either way the damage was done.

What ultimately sucks is trying to figure out the “why me?” answer on your own. In my case, the only explanation was since I was in a transitional role into a position that would inevitably be eliminated in a time of crisis they did away with it. It didn’t matter who filled that role at the time. I was placed in a role that would further my career only to fall victim to that role being eliminated. The infuriating fact of this problem is I didn’t ask to be placed in this transitional role. I could’ve easily been told due to the staff reduction we’re killing the new role and will be in my original/current position for the indefinite future. But did it matter? No. The damage was done therefore any bargaining was unnecessary. The department I was in had 3 new employees that were still in their 90 probation period. But what do they do? Get rid of the person that travelled to the other side of the world for them only to be done away with 5 months later. It’s not a question of laying off people that were less valuable than me but it is a question of me not having control of the fact that I was in a transitional role BECAUSE of them. If there were a term for this it would only be described as Corporate Entrapment – Being promoted to a role that did not yet exist but because it was expendable during hard times the person in said role is with whom they do away. Awesome.

I was looking forward to special projects, being deployed to other offices throughout the country to accomplish short-term missions. This wasn’t the deployment I was hoping for.

Just remember that after being laid off and you ask yourself “Why me?” you are rarely ever a name or a person. You are a position that a committee has decided they can do away with for the time being. And as much as that sucks the best thing you can do is take the experience you got while there and show it off elsewhere. Someone out there will see your value.

Because at this point, your career can only go uphill.

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This post was submitted by Andy.


Feb 9 2012

FUNemployed

Ahhhh, my layoff. Our biggest client was a bank that was seized and auctioned off by the FDIC so my ad agency closed it’s LA office. I knew it was coming and sat in anxiety waiting for the day to come. I sent out resumes, networked, did everything I could to get out before axe fell. The economy was the economy…and nothing materialized. I was dejected, depressed and panicked.

Since my layoff, I’ve learned to look at this time as an opportunity…to volunteer, to become an eBay seller, to be an extra in a movie, to get on the ESPYs red carpet and to write an ebook. Recently published, “FUNemployed: Finding the Upside in the Downturn” offers tips and humorous stories to help the unemployed find a silver lining in a bleak situation. Reviewers call it witty and informative so I think I’ve found my new career. It can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, Kobo, Sony, Diesel and Smashwords.

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This post was submitted by Kerry.


Feb 3 2012

Comcast lay’s off 40k year worker only reports $903 million in profits.

When NBC and Comcast were merging we were told we had nothing to fear. As I write this I see the “you have nothing to worry about post” and nod in understanding.
The merger finally came and the day after the layoff’s happened. First it was the silent ones where all contractor’s were let go then it was the very public fel swoop mass layoff’s. That day they called us into a room and said “nothing to worry about” again while HR looked ominously on. “This was it”. Then the slow bleed began. One week it was someone in Marketing, the next in accounting and so on and so forth.

I went to speak with my HR person around this time and admitted I was worried this may happen to me. I’ve been trying to start my family with my new wife and we had just settled on a house losing my job was not something I took lightly. I also wanted to let them know I would do anything to stay as I loved it there. Every day I walked into work I was proud of the company i was helping grow. I (foolishly) saw myself continuing to work hard and stay for years. I also was not so unskilled that I couldn’t be moved around as my skills were of use across the company and within my dept. Sadly not soon after…my day came.

So here I am having to bear the guilt that my $40k salary was so demanding upon their bottom line for them to justify sending me into the worst job market since the depression. Poor Comcast can only just report a 5% increase in profit over last year (905 million dollars).

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This post was submitted by Eric Davis.


Nov 15 2011

HR Lays Off HR, Too

I’ve been reading a lot of these layoff stories and sense the exasperation and derision for the Human Resources drones who play an unsympathetic role on ‘the fateful day.’ I wince every time, because you see – I’m HR! But don’t worry, we cannibalize ourselves, too! Look at what we do to each other:

In Nov 2010 I joined a medical device company as a temporary contractor. They wanted to downsize their HR workforce across the world (I can already hear the cheers!) as part of an overall scheme to ‘hack-slash the bottom line because the top line ain’t growing.’ Of course, the agency recruiter who found me for the job just told me I’d be helping the company select and install new recruiting software. (!?) After a few days, I found out two pieces of the real story: 1) my job existed to help facilitate what was, after all, an HR force reduction, and 2) the incumbent for my role voluntarily left the company after just 3 months. They said ‘he missed his old job’ but I’m pretty sure he didn’t have the stomach for what he was asked to do. I didn’t either and thought about leaving several times, but I had an upside-down mortgage and a toddler to feed…

So, for the next five months, I interviewed various members of the HR team and documented their job duties and the processes they followed. (PS – if you are ever asked to document what you do for your job, YES, it’s a bad bad sign.) If they were halfway intelligent and curious creatures and flat-out asked me why I was documenting their jobs, I was told to say, “We’re implementing a software program and the information you provide will help us configure it correctly. The new software will help reduce your administrative burdens so you can focus on the more important, value-add pieces of your job.” What a sell, right?! I also had to help find and evaluate an outsourced firm who could do HR tasks at a lower price. Of course, I was given an open cubicle smack in the middle of the soon-to-be-affected HR personnel (one of whom was 7 months pregnant) to make these phone calls and evaluations…

Things were progressing – processes and duties were documented, an outsourced HR firm was chosen – when something dawned on me. I was very unpopular. No one in HR liked me and stage whispered about me in small clusters as I walked by. Obviously, my confidential “mission” wasn’t so confidential anymore – gracias, cube farm! I hated what I did and the people who worked with me hated me too. SNAFU. I also realized that these soon-to-be-affected HR people who stared daggers at me all day honestly thought that the HR force reduction was MY idea, as if I came in as a workforce efficiency expert/business consultant and suggested the whole thing. Senior management was encouraging this, and in fact, planned for it – “yes, blame it on the temporary contractor – that…that outsider! She’s the problem!” What a perfect scapegoat I made. Never mind that the reduction had been planned 12 months before I even started…

So of course, although I was slow to smell the scent of my own blood in the air, I was abruptly told by the VP of HR that my contract was prematurely ending (the crowd needed a sacrifice! the scales of justice needed tipping!). But would I please stick around just for a few more weeks and train someone else on how to manage and oversee the outsourced HR firm? A “someone” who was otherwise on the chopping block? (See how big-hearted senior management is!!?)

Sigh. Lesson learned.

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This post was submitted by HR Anonymous.