For those of you who live in a cave, let me catch you up. Microsoft gave 12,500 employees walking papers last week. Note, Microsoft conducts these Reduction In Force (RIF) exercises every 3 to 5 years. This current RIF is the largest in the history of the company.
Microsoft’s Stephen Elop provided us with his “moving forward” email to the troops. This letter is not a secret–it is posted on Microsoft’s own site: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/press/2014/jul14/07-17announcement2.aspx
Full disclosure, I worked at Microsoft as a contractor and then FTE for 19 years, 8 months. Let’s just call in 20 years. Then I was laid off along with 20 or more people from my product group. Don’t worry about me, I got snatched up by Amazon within a month of my leaving MS. And I got a nice severance package as long as I signed a contract saying I would never reveal the particulars of my severance. But I lost all my unvested stock which was a really big chunk of value.
Now less than a week later I find that six of my friends, all senior people in the company, have been cut. 5 of the 6 are over 50 years of age. All six are just short of 15 years with Microsoft. Every single one of them will look for work because they are not ready to retire. One could retire, but he would rather work than eat—he is just that kind of guy.
In my case, my wife was incredibly supportive, still working herself, and my layoff gave us a reason to downsize our lifestyle. We canceled the cruise we’d been saving up and planning for three years. We sold our McMansion and moved into a smaller house where we would not have a mortgage. (Suzy had been campaigning for years for this.) Now three years later, we are so much happier.
So here are my top three suggestions for my newly out-of-work friends. Ping me if you wanna have lunch, strategize, and/or work on your LinkedIn profile.
1. Don’t take it personally, it’s just business. Yes, they can hire 1.5 to 2 people for what you were being paid. That’s a very compelling impetus for a corporation that has stock holders. Fight the potential depression and destructive self guessing: I should have spent more time at my desk, I could have done better, or I was at that position too long, I should have seen it coming and moved before the shoe dropped.
2. Update your LinkedIn profile. Now. If you don’t have one, create one. Trust me, this is how you will get your next job. I blogged about this here: Post Your Resume on LinedIn. See my current profile for some examples: www.linkedin.com/in/jimglass/. My LinkedIn profile was the first thing the hiring manager looked at before he had HR call me for an interview.
3. Network. Yeah, you’ve heard it before. When I was looking for work I was dropping 10 to 20 resumes a week and not getting any response. By the third week I was feeling really depressed, I’d never been without work for this long since I was in high school! I was on Facebook, and actually felt guilty that I should be emailing more resumes when a friend from way back said she was looking for a writer.
I pinged her and said I was available and she said, “You are overqualified.” I said, so what? The next day Amazon HR called me. I got more action from my friend than I got from any other company, companies that are sifting through, in some cases, thousands of resumes for each position listing.
Most people don’t realize how valuable they are, their experience is. Don’t sell yourself short, if you worked at Microsoft for more than five years, you can work anywhere. Every time I moved from one job to another, everything got better: pay, people, challenge, and happiness. So get started on the top three things mentioned here, your friends are behind you all the way.
Picture credit Human Workplace on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Great advice, per usual Jim!
Thanks Donna. Leon pinged me on Facebook, I love his insights too about being laid off. It’s not the person, it’s the position that is being removed. ‘cept when it isn’t. Be well!
This is great. Thank you, Jim! With great advice like this and awesome friends, we’re confident things will work out for the best.
It’s all about community, isn’t it? I have great confidence that good will prevail.
I heard that we will lose our severance package if we start a new job before Sept 15. Any advice on how to juggle around that?
Not sure what you are asking here. Do you mean if you get another job at Microsoft you’ll lose your benefits? You can get answers to any of your questions by talking with Microsoft HR.