March 5, 2009

Can the Stimulus Package Prevent My Layoff?

Layoff  has become a booming business in itself. Websites, blogs, how-to lists, radio and television shows and support groups are all chasing the proverbial ambulance and making big or not so big bucks while at it.

Sadly for them, and fortunately for us, unemployment  job claims are finally climbing down. The companies have probably laid off, laying off at the prospect of the economy bouncing back, any day soon, because of the great stimulus package. Even though the only thing the stimulus package has managed to stimulate, so far, is conjecture and debate. If the President manages to get us out of this hole the Republicans can kiss their anti-socialist philosophy good bye. So, like Rush Limbaugh they must keep their fingers crossed that the President does not succeed.

The right hates it; the left loves it. This recession can actually once and for all settle that dispute. The Red States should really not accept any State bail out and put the money (or lack of it) where their mouth is. If these States fair better than the charity-accepting  Blue States then we’ll know that Government Intervention is not the answer. When the next recession hits us, we’ll only wait for divine intervention and leave the market forces to settle their own score. My layoff will then be the necessary collateral damage.

Similarly, Blue States should make it a point to avail off this fund injection as much as they can, to jump start their ailing economies and spend it wisely, because the economists (they’re all conservative) are taking notes.

This is a great opportunity to find out if unchecked capitalism (greed) is the way to go or if Governments have a strong role to play in strengthening a country’s economy without detriment to it’s hard working people.

Sit back and get popcorn and let the games begin!

January 17, 2009

Lay-Off Blues

My husband came back home from work yesterday relatively relieved. One person he knew got laid off but apparently the cuts were not as deep or as wide spread as anticipated.

Next week might be another story though. A strange thing happened at my office on Friday. Our manager called a meeting where he stressed on “productivity” and logging in more time on bugzilla! He asked if I needed a stopwatch??? What does that mean? He sounded sarcastic. Now, I can only do the work that is given to me and there hasn’t been that much. Also, the kind of stuff I do requires a lot of researching on the web, so the actual “doing” doesn’t take up that much time.

It seems like I might get laid -off too! That would be pouring rain, no, hail, on our bare heads, aching with the anxiety.

A confession; as much as it was a relief that neither my husband, nor I got laid-off yesterday, surprisingly, somewhere deep inside, I was also disappointed! Maybe, it’s the anticipation that is probably more grueling sometimes and takes a bigger toll on health and attitudes than the actual event. You just want to get it over with and start whatever kind of life you will have than hold your breath for the bomb to drop. How llong can you hold your breath, anyway. It reminds me of the last two years with my mother during her sickness. I was so close to her but the constant fear and the roller-coaster of her condition took such a huge toll on our family. I lost so much weight and got my first few white hair during those years- it’s been over 12 years since my mom passed away and I don’t have many more white hair even today. But, the point I was trying to make is that we loved our mother so much, but when she died after the initial traumatic few weeks, we all felt better than we had in the last few years watching her condition deteriorate and not being able to help her.

These are troubled times. We just need to learn to be grateful for what we have and be grateful when we won’t have it!

Will check in with you again on Monday and update you on the status or status quo.

February 3, 2009


You have a steady job at a large multinational company that has already had two rounds of layoffs! Sound familiar? Many of us are in a similar predicament; if the layoffs aren’t imminent then they are on the back burner, ready to ambush; you can take that to the bank. Given the situation the economy is in, most of us should be preparing for being laid off. It is not pleasant but it is practical; it’s better than crossing the icy bridge on high heels.

I have been researching for this post and there is really not much real advice beyond the obvious “tips” that have often been written by high paid executives with golden parachutes in their “don’t you idiots know all this” tone. What’s even more unfortunate is that there is not much advice for how to manage the emotional fallout – a layoff is a crisis situation, one that can put a lot of stress on the individual and their family. The biggest challenge comes from having to deal with the unexpected at the moment it happens. It is hard for human beings to deal with a situation where they have no control over the unfolding events. I feel, given the state of the economy and the recession taking hold, we can all expect these drastic changes and it would be prudent to have a plan in place.

If you’ve been planning for a rainy day, this might be it. The hurricane clouds are gathering and it’s about time we put those storm windows in place. Besides the financial side there is the emotional and personal side that is often neglected during the planning phase. Since both my husband and I have been bracing for the “L” word, we have put a lot of thought in how to proceed once (if) the primary income earner of our household is laid off. Here are some steps that help you organize in case of a career emergency (layoff).

  1. Consolidate and rollover all former 401Ks so that they are ready to draw from if need be.
  2. Apply for a home equity line of credit.
  3. Refinance your home mortgage while you still have a job.
  4. Establish a relationship with a recruiter for contract jobs to tide you over while you look for a new permanent one.
  5. Hold on to 0% balance transfer credit card offers.
  6. Beef up your LinkedIn profile and other professional networking profiles.
  7. Ask for recommendations and establish references.
  8. Identify worst-case-scenario-jobs and get information about pros and cons.
  9. Find out about unemployment benefits and what you will be entitled to.
  10. Check your company’s policies regarding financial compensation and notice period for laid off employees.
  11. Update your resume.
  12. Reevaluate your home budget and make the necessary adjustments so there will not be a drastic change later.
  13. Get information about county and state health benefits and resources if need be.
  14. Try and get a three-month mail order for expensive prescription medication (through employers insurance).
  15. Renew prescriptions from your doctor so you can get generics if need be for at least a few months after being laid-off.
  16. Get family annual physical exams and dental appointments done while you still have your insurance.
  17. Keep your flex claims up to date and get a list of items that are eligible for claims.

What has really helped my husband and me over the last few weeks is to discuss and have a concrete plan in place. In case there is a layoff in the family, we all need to decide how to go about managing. Here are some additional aspects that you might want to consider and have consensus on:

  1. What and when to tell the children in case you are laid off. If you have children you know that your biggest challenge is to not let there self-esteem and confidence suffer while making them understand the need for lifestyle changes. I believe how you approach this varies on your values and your own reasoning. Personally, my husband and I have discussed this and would not like to make our children insecure. We have decided to tell them (in case there is a layoff) that we have decided to start our own business and quit work for a while to give this a shot. This also rationalizes the need to cut expenses because of the investment and sacrifice required for the business. (For us it is partially true, we both have skills that lend themselves to being self-employed).
  2. If you have a spouse you also need to discuss what would be the best way to break the news to the your partner. Also what you will do the day of the lay-off. This might sound trivial given the circumstances but I strongly believe deciding on a plan of action from the get (let) go is part of getting some control back. For example if you are laid-off, will you first call your spouse and warn them, or just show up at home in the middle of the day? Calling ahead might give your partner time to collect themselves and will reduce the pressure on you as well.
  3. You need to have a plan for the critical day of the layoff. The idea is to minimize the stress and collateral damage. A plan that the person laid-off will come straight home and do what…l would recommend a rigorous workout and no further discussion that first night, maybe even watch a movie at home and so on.
  4. You might want to have a planned approach to the job hunt process as well. Something like, you will devote four hours first thing in the morning everyday looking for new jobs, workout for 45 minutes, 2 hours a day for networking (cyber, phone or face) and 3 hours finding gigs/improving skills/etc.

I hope you will find this list helpful and that these ideas might give you a starting point for further thought and discussion. The idea is to get a sense of control over our lives. God knows we all need it! Please contribute with your own ideas to make the layoff less stressful and more constructive.

Telonu Layoff Tracker

January 26, 2009


Today is my first day without work and it is an unreal feeling. The house seems strange at this time on a weekday. I could swear that I got that sense that it felt the same about me. I took out the garbage and bumped into my neighbor’s cleaning lady who I’d heard about but never met. It’s like seeing your boss in pajamas. You know he wears them but in a mythical kind of a way. It is a different world- the world of the unemployed. I could have killed for a day off when I was working but now that I know I don’t have a job to go back to, it is just weird. Like the butterflies in your stomach have decided to settle in. “This is a high-acid stomach, lets stay.” Every few minutes they start to flutter and then get tired and take a break. Oh, here comes the flutter again…wait, there, it’s gone.

Our sense of self and worth is so attached to what we do that it seems like we’re all in midst of an identity crisis, as an economy of the increasingly unemployed. We are now looking for other ways to define ourselves: “We are a people who have voted for a black president. Who cares if we’ve broken the world economy and don’t have jobs; we have hope… our president says so.”

Friday was my last day at work before I joined the not-so-young and the jobless. I have to say that everyone was awkwardly nice- they even had a little impromptu party for me. “Lets get drunk and pretend everything is going to be ok.” My boss offered me his reference and recommendations if I needed them, and that was nice. We all exchanged emails (my yahoo for their work emails). “We’ll do lunch, when you’re in town the next time, ping me…err I mean, email me.” I could see the relief on their faces when they realized I wasn’t going to do the big farewell thing. I was the sacrificial lamb offered for the protection of all the remaining employees. The ritual ended with me walking out with a huge sense of relief and dread all rolled up in the cigarette I had vowed never to smoke.

I have been thinking and researching about the whole process and stages (pre and post) of lay-off and am writing a detailed post for “How to prepare for, and survive a lay-off”. You can subscribe to this blog or stay tuned for the next installment of the anatomy of a layoff. Until then…hold on to your jobs and do everything I didn’t.

January 19, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — laidoff2 @ 10:57 pm
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Yup, it happened and I did get a layoff notice today. As of Friday of this week I will be among the not-so-young and the jobless!

Trying to hang in there. I am not even going to look for jobs anymore and will try and start my own business. No one can fire me from that and I will be sleeping better without playing out the day in bed at night and trying to interpret signals and moods. That is so frustrating. So, I guess the guessing game is over for me and I am kind of relieved. When my boss called me to the board room for the “talk”, I thought I would get emotional and might break down but fortunately I took the break up news gracefully and I think because of that both my boss and I did not feel very awkward. He even suggested becoming my “reference” and wished me luck.

Btw, you guys are the first people I am sharing this news with, I am bracing my self for later today when I have to tell my already worried husband, who might also be out of a job soon.

The other day out of the blue my daughter asked me at dinner “mom, will we be able to keep our house?” And this, after both she and her brother had been pestering us to move to a bigger house like those of some of there friend’s. Both my husband and I have been trying very hard to not let the kids feel how worried we are or that we could be in a financial hole soon.

I am a bit of a fatalist (an optimistic one), I have this feeling that it might not be that bad after all.

Tomorrow is another day. The day when Obama swears in.

January 16, 2009


Yesterday, my husband came back home from work with the news that his department has initiated the dreaded lay-offs.

Already, three people from his functional team have been given the pink slip (or the purple one, since pink is for “fired”, and not for the respectably “laid off”). Of course, we have been expecting something like this. But really it is like “cancer”, even with the statistics and family history, you never think you’re really going to get it! Until you do, and then despite all the signs pointing in that direction, it still comes as a shock. Yes, my husband is quite certain he will be laid-off and yes we are still in denial. Do the stages of bereavement apply?

A little background: my husband is a reasonably paid IT executive, a data architect, with one of the largest manufacturing companies in the world! He is a techie who has moved on to project management, and like most techies, hates it. He’d rather be writing code than anything else in the world. He has been stressed at work and leaving it will not really be the worst thing that can happen to him, except, it will be.

We, like many others are over-extended, have a huge mortgage (for a modest town home) and car payments for the first cool car we’ve ever owned, and practically no golden or even silver parachute to break the fall. We have a small emergency fund (no really, it’s tiny) that will not last us more than a couple months and we have lots of payments; including a small debt and two parents that we are fortunate enough to support. I am generally an optimistic person, sometimes irritatingly so. But I have to admit, I’m scared.

Now, why am I writing this blog? Well, the idea came to me while I was driving to my (almost minimum wage) job in sub zero temperatures, after having been up all night, worrying and planning. Both, my husband and I were tossing all night and in the morning when we asked each other if the other had slept well, both replied “like a baby!” So you understand why I am writing this. I need to talk, and for a private person, feelings shared on paper with unknown readers, is a lot easier than in person with friends or family.

Another thing is, I am a writer, that’s what I do, or at least, used to do. I was a a high flying creative director in my previous life, back in my country of birth, before we immigrated to the land of opportunities. And now I am a soccer mom who bakes and scrubs bathrooms, (my own for now) in her spare time. We have two children in elementary school and the younger one just started full time, last fall. Since the last year and a half I have been looking for jobs but without luck. Turns out my (non-digital) portfolio from another culture is irrelevant and out-dated, and there is a gaping hole on my resume. I almost got the job a couple times last year, but “almost” was not exactly what I was looking for.

I have had a few jobs here and there but nothing permanent. I am far from embarking on a career. I have embarked though, I think. I have been training and studying for a career change and acquiring hard skills since the last two years (after swallowing my pride) and have finally found a low paying contract position (if one can call it that) without benefits, at a small design firm in Chicago.

Another big problem I foresee is no health insurance, if my husband gets the boot, no, not the boot, the sandal. A boot would hurt way more, sincere apologies to all those fired. I am learning to be politically correct. So, about health insurance, see I have a chronic health condition, well-managed with expensive medication and regular labs!!! You get the picture. And COBRA with its whopping premiums will be as dreaded as it’s namesake.

I believe this blog will be a constructive way to stay braced in what’s going to be a bumpy ride. I am hoping to get support and ideas from all of you and to share and maybe help those in a similar predicament.

This is the plan. I will write a daily post (or every-other-day) in this journal, and share what we’re going through and what we are planning. Next week we find out for sure, If my husband (and he is 90% sure) actually gets laid off. It could also be as early as today. And then as we say…”it hits the fan.”

Either way, I’ll check in and report tomorrow. I promise, I’ll get you inside my head and give a a blow by blow account of what happens; so you can experience this vicariously, through our eyes and brains. If nothing else it’ll be cathartic for me. In the mean time please leave comments and give ideas and stay tuned for the next installment of “Grey’s Anatomy”, oh that was last night; I mean “Anatomy of a Layoff”.

Telonu Layoff Tracker

Welcome To My World

Filed under: Uncategorized — laidoff2 @ 7:25 pm
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This blog is a diary of a family about to take a hit by the economy. My husband is sure he is going to be laid-off (perhaps today or next week) and we are bracing ourselves.

I will share, on a regular basis, perhaps daily, if warranted, all that follows and the steps we take to mitigate a disaster. As the events unfold you will be part of our inner thoughts, fears and plans You may be called upon to vote and give input to help us out.

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