One Week In, Burns is (Almost) Back
It’s been one week since I unexpectantly joined the growing ranks of those that are #laidoff and #ReadyToWork. Quite a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences. If you’ve been reading my posts, you’ve seen me exhibit some of those negative emotions. A week in and enough is going right that I’m getting back to being able to focus on the positive. No guarantees, but I am very optimistic.
Fortunate With Hard & Soft Skills
The biggest item is that I am understanding even more is just how fortunate I am. No one wants to be fired from a job. Especially one that they really like. That being said, we’ve got a good cushion ready to carry us.
It is likely that ageism has gotten in the way in the past when I’ve looked for a new role. That being said, thanks to that age I am very skilled. I’ve pivoted before, can do so again if needed. The hard skills include the ability to code in multiple languages and a familiarity with a multitude of technologies. There also is and advanced degree in Management Information Systems. This is very relevant when speaking with the business owners. It also helps tremendously when interacting with the tech side of the house.
I’m able to use these hard skill to come up with creative solutions to all sorts of problems. It might be a business looking to put their internal web based application on a CDN as securely (and quickly) as possible. It might be creating 2000 lines of JSON with a 100 line Perl script. The prior methodology was to hand write the JSON. If you’ve done this you know how tedious and error prone it can be. Any updates took hours. Now? Add a line to a csv file, run the script, and seconds later you’ve got another 200 lines of syntactically correct JSON. I’m off on a tangent, but hopefully you are seeing how much I love tech and that I am a very creative problem solver.
When we talk of soft skills, I feel this is an area where I also do quite well. Always room to improve, but I feel I am a good communicator, good at reading the rooms and really know how to communicate in the right jargon at the right altitude for any stakeholder. Part of me wanted to use stronger adjectives here. Humility is so important as an SE. Even these last few sentence are humble brags that I feel a bit off typing.
LinkedIn InMails & Losing Hope Later
I replied to a handful of InMails I’d received in the 2 or 3 weeks prior being let go. That has lead to several interviews. I do know though what it is like though to exhaust all of the opportunities out there and be grasping for something good to happen.
So please do keep this in mind when you interview. There are a lot of people that have been looking for months now. It is a complex task, and you never know what has slowed them down. I certainly can tell stories about letting off on the gas when I had something great lined up. Those opportunities fell through weeks and months after I invested hours into technical exercises, interviews and travel. The majority were outside my control.
One firm, for example, closed their doors a few months after going radio silent on me. In hindsight it was good I didn’t end up there. And the ones where I see that my mistakes caused them to end – I can confidently say that I dodged a bullet. The items that derailed the process were items where I wouldn’t want to work for a firm with that kind of leadership. Do you want to work for a CEO who can’t discuss the comp plan if you diplomatically question how the don’t seem to add up? Another bullet dodged!
Maintain Your LinkedIn Network
I’ve got a great network here. Since I posted about the experience, I’ve gotten several intros around interviews. Besides the coworkers asking for my resume and promoting me internally, I’ve had several reach out and tell me to check their careers page. If there is a fit, I know they’ll share great things about me. Plus I’ve gotten great recommendations and more are in the works. Several interviews. Some were qualified out quickly, others are moving forward.
Speaking of that network, I’ve been leveraging several folks to get feedback and ideas. As an example, I am thinking about pivoting back to sales. It is older than my LinkedIn history shows, but I made a decent living for five years in sales. It was pure commission, no base, no benefits. One of the best Account Executives I’ve worked with has retired. A quick email to them and the next day we are having lunch. They filled me in on things to ask, as well as the types of concerns hiring managers would have when they think of a Sales Engineer switching over to pure sales. And yes, they are all concerns that I can provide evidence as to why they don’t apply to me.
What To Do
Changing my status on LinkedIn has also helped line up other interviews. At some point I’ll write about human beings and our biological tendencies toward a negative bias. That bias surfaces when you hear a noise in the dark, as well as when you see that someone is no longer employed. But that is the subject of another article.
I’m experienced enough to know what to do here. Besides reaching on on the InMails I already had, I’ve written up my plan and daily routine. You see, when this happens, you need to work the search like a job. One where you need to prove yourself. It isn’t just looking for jobs and applying. I’m working to raise my visibility here. I’m also fortunate enough to have the space and equipment to deploy a very powerful system to learn new technology on. More to come later on the routine, the server, and what I’ll be working on.
One interview really put this situation in perspective. The interviewer did not have their camera on, and I’m a firm believer that people shouldn’t have to. But that wasn’t the reason. They were in Ukraine and had no power for lights. The glow of the screen doesn’t lend itself to serious discussions. This company had already relocated the staff that was in danger to Poland or the western part of the country. I’ll take anything over being in a warzone. Especially one where civilians are being targeted.
My Weakness & Fears
The worst thing I am dealing with is that I am letting my brain write the narrative when I don’t have all the details. I’ve reached out to people to ask for various sorts of help, and if you know me you know I’m generous with my time and help for others. When a few days go by I write the narrative that the friendship was not genuine and they don’t care. Turns out I was totally wrong. Not everyone lives on LinkedIn like I do. Not everyone checks their personal email several times a week.
The last item is that I am worried that this time could be different. The economy is on shaky ground. I’m getting older, so ageism will enter the picture more often. We’ve got a cushion but it will only last so long. Here I go again, writing the next chapter with pessimism.
There really really isn’t anything ugly for me to talk about here. Being laid off unexpectedly is the nature of being of working #technology for #startups. It wasn’t the first time for me, and probably won’t be the last. Every time I end up somewhere better. Sometimes there is a detour, but it really is a journey. And that detour reminds me just how bad things can be. Every time I learn. Several times I’ve pivoted and have been successful each time.
Yes, I’m still angry and feeling let down. But I also know that I am extremely fortunate and am on the right path to make life even better. I’ve got a plan, a routine and a great network. Thank you all for being part of it!
PS – I’ve got articles in the works related to my job search, tech I am working with and other observations. Follow me if you want to see this content in your feed.