Thursday, November 06, 2008

Retrenchment blogging: day 1

It has occurred to me that I will be neither the first nor the last person to lose his job during this economic cycle. In fact, if this situation becomes as severe as some predict, reaction to job loss could have a far greater audience than esoteric geology jokes. So, I am going to blog my retrenchment. Do not consider this advise by an expert- I haven't been retrenched before, so I don't really know what I'm doing. Whether this story has a happy ending or an infinite downward spiral remains to be seen. But I'll post actions, thoughts, and new as time permits, so my experience can serve as a guide- or as a warning- to future victims of economic rationalization.

Day 1. WTFH?
Last night, my manager called me up and told me that my position would be terminated in a month's time. He didn't say much more. Since I telecommute during the off season, I really had no idea what was going on, so I spent a bit of time chatting, emailing, and talking with various folks back west to see who else was effected and how. I had emailed a few close contacts or advise, and I followed that up as well. And, since I am employed for the next month, I did a fair bit of work. You know, like, my actual job. Some of that was retrenchment related, though, as I had to inform various collaborators that I wouldn't be around.

My initial strategy was to conduct wide ranging inquiries. I didn't quite call everyone I knew- that would be quite time consuming. But I picked some key high-value people and either gave them a phone call or dropped them an email (usually call first, with email follow-up if they weren't around). I also went through my business card collection- a year ago total strangers were giving me their cards in bars, grocery stores, etc and suggesting I come work for them. So I figure, might as well give them a shot. And I did the easy stuff, like contact relevant facebook friends, people in my inbox I owed mail, etc.

Many responses were pretty grim, such as "Ha. half our staff got laid off last week. sorry." In general, the people in the most similar situation (advanced degree holders with a few years experience) had the grimmest news. But unlike emails, phone calls were good in that even if the person couldn't help me, they often had positive messages which eased the worry, even if nothing concrete came of them. And several contacts did produce additional lead trees. Interestingly, one of the ex-collaborators who I called to tell him our joint project wouldn't get done came back at me with a highly promising lead, so that was a bit of unexpected good news.

It's a bit early to draw firm conclusions, but my best luck so far have been people in different businesses with whom I've had positive professional dealings. Tonight was spent updating the Resume/CV, but I can't send it out until I call my second reference and reconfirm that he's still happy to do it (It's been 18 months since I used him to get my current job). I'll probably use the long format one (shown) for closer contacts/ specific requests, and trim it down to a one-pager for cold drops on people who aren't likely to care enough to flip pages.


Anonymous said...

Crossing my fingers for you Chuck. I emailed Graham this morning, no idea whether that'll be useful or not. It's better than doing nothing though. :)

C W Magee said...

Thanks for that. I've had some interesting tips and opportunities, so we'll see what happens...