Jul 12 2018

How to Get Laid Off

How to Get Laid Off – an Employee’s Perspective

One of my colleagues at Return Path  saw my post about How to Quit Your Job about 5 years ago and was inspired to share this story with me.  Don’t read anything into this post, team!  There is no other meaning behind my posting it at this time, or any time, other than thinking it’s a very good way of approaching a very difficult situation, especially coming from an employee.

In 2009 I was working at a software security start up in the Silicon Valley.  Times were exceedingly tough, there were several rounds of layoffs that year, and in May I was finally on the list. I was informed on a Tuesday that my last day was that Friday.  It was a horrible time to be without a job (and benefits), there was almost no hiring at all that year, one of the worst economic down turns on record.  While it was a hard message,  I knew that it was not personal, I was just caught up on a bad math problem.

After calling home to share the bad news, I went back to my desk and kept working. I had never been laid off and was not sure what to do, but I was pretty sure I would have plenty of free time in the short term, so I set about figuring out  how to wrap things up there.  Later that day the founder of the company came by, asked why I had not gone home, and I replied that I would be fine with working till the end of the week if he was okay with it.  He thanked me.

Later that week, in a meeting where we reviewed and prioritized the projects I was working on, we discussed who would take on the top three that were quite important to the future of the company.  A few names were mentioned of who could keep them alive, but they were people who I knew would not focus on them at all.  So I suggested they have me continue to work on them, that got an funny look but when he thought about it , it made sense, they could 1099 me one day a week.  The next day we set it up.  I made more money than I could of on unemployment, but even better I kept my laptop and work email, so I looked employed which paid off later. 

That one day later became two days and then three, however, I eventually found other full time work in 2010.  Layoffs are hard,  but it is not a time to burn bridges.   In fact  one of the execs of that company is a reference and has offered me other opportunities for employment.