Engineers Guide to Layoffs, A Checklist 

This was presented at the Big Data Utah Meetup, on 12-14-22. If you would like to see the video of this please use this link.

Before the Big Mountain Data and Dev conference, I decided to make a presentation about what you should do to prepare for being laid off.  I had no idea of the storm that was about to happen in the Tech Community.  

When I first told people about the presentation, they all thought it was a negative thing and what would compel me to bring up that topic and speak on it. It felt like people believed that if you talk about it, it will magically happen to you.

This is a problem! No one likes layoffs and no one wants to be laid off.  But we cannot avoid it.  It WILL happen, sooner or later in this environment we live in it will happen to you.  I would much rather be prepared for it. I would much rather talk about it now rather than after I was already laid off.

The first rule of being prepared for something like this is to accept one simple fact.  

Job Stability is an illusion.  No job is 100% Safe 

  • I *know* you love the company you work for.
  • I *know* you love your manager, you hang out as friends.
  • I *know* you won X awards from the company, and you’ve been promoted X times.  

I know because I’ve been there,  I also know that a Company is a business and the first rule of a business is to make money so that it can keep being a business.  It is true that 95% of the time it is not personal and it’s not performance related when you are laid off.  You should NOT take it personally,  I know this is said a LOT, it’s true and needs to be accepted.

You can still be loyal to a company, still, have fun, and still, go ALL in with your work. Just understand that you may not have a position in the future. Regardless of how much time and energy you spend on the job. 

I have a lot more to say on this topic and you are welcome to watch me talk about it in my presentation.   For now, I wanted to provide a checklist you can do RIGHT NOW whether you have been laid off or not you should do this right now.  

Be Prepared 

  1. Schedule a lunch,
    1. Right now go to your calendar and setup a re-occurring meeting that reminds you at the beginning of the month to schedule a lunch with co-workers, former workers, and friends.  Someone in your network that you can keep up with, chat with, and network with.  You should do this at minimum once a quarter.  Even better monthly.  With different people so you can keep your network strong and connected. 
  2. Attend Meetups/User groups/Conferences.
    1. Even if you do not LOVE the topic, Go for the networking, discussion, and meeting others.  Talk to other people in the group and talk about projects you are working on.  
    2. Attend Conferences even if the company is not paying for them. You need to invest in YOU  do not wait for a company to invest in you.
  3. Blog/Linked in posts
    1. Stay active on Linked in, even if you just comment from time to time on a few posts. Show activity, Update your job skills and your job functions.  YES that gets you lots of annoying recruiters reaching out to you but it also keeps you active which is good for future employers.  
  4. Volunteer.
    1. This doesn’t have to be something related to your work, it can be any volunteer organization. You get to meet a lot of different people when volunteering and this increases your network and shows a drive to do other things.  Future employers love hearing about your drive and passion. 
  5. Accept Lunch!
    1. As Tech people we don’t really like sales pitch lunches, we just want the technical details and how the system works. But we need the sales people to connect us with other companies to have future connections with how things work. So don’t be afraid to attend a sales event even if it’s just to talk to other users of the systems that you are using.  
  6. Take a Class/Attend meetups on different Technology
    1. Learn something you DO NOT USE at work. No your current employer is not going to help support this most likely. This is once again investing in YOU and your future. 
    2. Learn to Present,  Presenters are seen as leaders in the community, they have a great chance of recovering quickly from a layoff because others have seen what they can do and want the passion they have.  I’m always willing to fully train someone on this if you are interested hit me up in the comments. 
    3. Learn to Sell,  Ya I don’t like this one either, but the truth is that you have to learn to sell yourself a little.  It’s a fact of life that an interview is about expressing how much you can do for the company. You are selling your skills and abilities and you need to practice that.  For most tech people this does not come natural. 

Handling your Layoff 

  1. Take some time.
    1. It is Almost never personal, But you will feel that it is. I know I did.  Take some time to process those feelings and work through them.  Even if it’s a few days or a few hours make sure you accept what has happened and focus on how to move forward. 
  2. Pivotal Change
    1. Re-think where you are and where you want to be.  Even if this is a stressful time, you need to take a minute and think about the positions you are looking for and what you want to do.  Somethings a Layoff ends up being a much more positive thing in the end.  
  3. Share/Post
    1. Everyone should post on Social networks about being Laid off.  You need to let your network know and you need to make sure they are all aware that you are looking for assistance.  This is not being weak, complaining, sob story, or silliness. This is what your network is here for!  Reach out and let others know! 
  4. Leave Well
    1. Yes, It hurts, Yes the company betrayed your trust, put you in a bad spot, and in many cases I’ve been reading truly ruined people’s lives.  You have to move forward.  You hope to work with some of the people again in the future and doing something bad is not a good thing to keep that relationship going.  Be mindful of the words you use as leaving and in your social posts.  

To steal an idea from my good friend Andrea Allred(RoyalSQL).  The song for this post is. 

Going through Hell By Rodney Atkins

I hope you found this list helpful and I hope that you will take a few minutes to do some of the items on this list so that you can be more prepared for when you are laid off.  If I’ve learned anything about being in the Tech sector for 20 years is that Layoffs can and will happen. All the time.  


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