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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Lessons From my Sudden Unemployment

I have posted in over a month now and there is a good reason for that.

Back at the end of June, my boss called me into an HR office and told me that the team was being restructured and I wasn’t on it.  I was given a full paycheck for the last half of June, a four week severance, and about 13 days of unused vacation income.  Also, I was considered “re-hirable” so I suppose it wasn’t anything I’ve done on Twitter or Facebook.

But it was totally unexpected and left me with no job and a family to take care of.

And so, I was left unemployed for the month of July.  I’m a software developer by trade and I live in the DC Metro area, so I should be able to find a new job, right?

For the first couple of weeks, I was dealing with the 4th of July vacation fallout.  Basically, I was laid off on the biggest vacation period of the year.  So that meant I was stuck talking with recruiters for two weeks while trying to set up in-person interviews.

Eventually, I was able to secure a job offer after nine in-person interviews and about a dozen phone interviews.

So what did I learn?

For one thing, I need to find alternative forms of income, which I can do in my spare time without disrupting my normal daily routines.  This is not to replace my regular job but simply to supplement my existing income and not put me in desperation mode.  I have a good amount of savings to hold me over for a while, but I hate having to tap it, especially because I am also hoping to have enough savings to buy a house someday.

So I’m going to try a few new things, like Twitch, or maybe re-monetize my blog.  Or perhaps I’ll just find another form of income entirely.  Anyway, I’ll try and figure something out in the next several months.

Secondly, even if you’re in high demand, that doesn’t mean you will easily find a replacement job.  In many cases, I found that I didn’t have exactly what people were looking for.  There were plenty of people who could easily get the job over me because they had skills oriented toward what the employer wanted or who would work for less.

Being in high demand means you are also highly replaceable apparently.

Third, most recruiters aren’t going to find you a job.  I think I wasted a lot of time talking with recruiters.  I did get my current job through a recruiter but he was extremely aggressive and sales-oriented.  Find a recruiter who is willing to push you through some hoops.  In this case, he was able to bypass all the useless phone interviews and cut straight to the in-person interview.

So while recruiters can be useful, you may be better off just applying at various places directly unless you can find a particularly aggressive recruiter.

Lastly, never assume that your job is secure.  I fully expected to still be working for that last company for several years, instead I was dumped to curve the instant budget cuts had to be made (I’m assuming that’s what happened, the details were fuzzy from their end).

God-willing, I will be able to keep this current job for a few years, but I should keep my eyes open for better opportunities as nothing is a guarantee anymore.  The days of working for a company for most of your life are gone.

For some reason, we are considered replaceable cogs even though we are highly skilled workers these days.  That probably doesn’t bode well for the future.