I am unemployed. There, I said it (or wrote it.) Monday I went to work like any other day. I took out my laptop, opened it up, started to prepare the weekly service desk reports and my boss ducked his head in my office and said “Can you join me in conference room A for a minute?” Conference room A is adjacent to my office so it wasn’t hard for anyone to hear when I got in.
“Sure. What’s up?”. I followed and when I saw it was just him and the HR girl, I knew immediately what was up. My 22+ years at the company were done. It was a great experience. Right out of college as a software developer for a year and a half, then a Unix Sys Admin for several years, then broadening my technical skills with more advanced projects, and finally management for the last several years. I was given some great opportunities and made some great friends.
Was I surprised? Sure. Was I unprepared? No. I’ve had the good fortune of reaching out to some excellent resources (most notably Mark Horstman at Manager Tools) who prepared me for this eventuality. Five years ago he told me to build and maintain a network in the community, in the industry, and online. Keep the contacts alive, backup your contact database, and keep the resume up to date. Relationships are the key to success or as he puts it “It’s all about the people.”
I should mention that my wife and brother also work in IT at the same company and were not affected (save emotionally.) There was one other project manager that was let go the same day. Our departure sent shock waves through the IT. Everyone was very nervous and some were angry. Me? I was ready to move on.
There’s no value in trying to figure out “who said what”, or “how could this have happened”. I may never know and I’m not sure I want to. I was actually smiling while the HR rep and my boss were giving me the final meeting. I was excited at what awaits. It’s not that I wanted to leave. Like I said, it was a fun ride while it lasted. I was ready to try out some of those skills I’ve been working on (and in some cases preaching about) for the past few years. I collected my things and headed out. Donna was given the day off to assist with family matters. We took the folder full of papers and went to get some coffee to look things over and make a task list.
Once we had a plan, we headed home to start taking care of some easy wins (online accounts and things.) One thing I remembered were a few business appointments I had made with recent acquaintances at a conference a couple weeks ago. I called the first to cancel and apologize and within minutes it had turned in to a potential lead. I called the second that afternoon and the same thing happened.
Was this a miracle? Not really. It was hard work and knowing what to do at conferences. I won’t go over all the details. You can find that at Manager Tools or Career Tools (same site). I talked to people. I exchanged business cards. I kept in touch with them after I got home. I even offered one of them a friendly travel tip because we had the same kind of bag and she appreciated it. While at the conference, I won an award for Innovation of the Year which didn’t hurt the reputation either. That was the “hard work” part. You see, the week before the conference I was sick for two days and still managed to finish work to get all the materials needed submitted for the award.
As week #1 of my new life winds down, I find myself with several leads, a severance package, and time to get a few ignored home tasks done (like giving the kids a little more attention.) I’m optimistic, enthusiastic, and still enjoying the ride. I look forward to getting back to work (after the basement and the studio are cleaned.)
More to come.