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Laid off? Downsized? What did you learn?

#11
O.K.
Jim can't give specifics about his situation, but I can give general warning signs everyone should have on his watch list which should trigger some intense alertness and new job hunt activity:

In general, there are two categories of warning signs:

  1. public or semi-public information about the company
    (public being in the press or rumored among customers and suppliers,
    semi-public being general knowledge among employees, but not generally known to outsiders.)
  2. private info only YOU know (besides some bosses)
PUBLIC or semi-public (these do NOT have to be a result of a general economic recession)

  1. weak earnings or even loss, resulting in big drop in stock value for publicly traded companies (like it or not, most company big wigs respond by cutting labor costs)
  2. rumors of, or actual implementation of, outsourcing of processes, regardless whether to domestic or off-shore locations
  3. acquisition or merger talks or rumors (BOTH companies usually shed "superfluous" employees)
  4. suppliers start complaining they are being stretched out on payments, bosses suddenly drop long-time suppliers without explanation, bosses look for every excuse to delay payment to suppliers
  5. customers are returning goods (more than usual), complaining of shoddy quality, short counts
  6. your organization's entire industry is suffering or has become obsolete (cathode ray tubes for TVs and monitors in a Liquid Crystal Diode world)
  7. company is having public negotiations with states or towns to relocate for tax incentives

PRIVATE

  1. You, personally, find yourself "out of the loop" when bosses and coworkers stop talking to you about the business of the organization; you are no longer included in meetings; when you do attend meetings, no one asks for your input and any input you offer is ignored
  2. you have a new boss who is "too busy" to meet and talk to you on a one-to-one basis
  3. Your workload and new projects suddenly get lighter, without explanation; asking for new projects gets stonewalled
  4. your boss is suddenly scarce around the job, always involved in secret, closed-door meetings with his bosses or peers
  5. you get a job transfer to an undesirable job, perhaps even a demotion, and the new job is a dead end, out of the possible promotion conveyor belt
  6. if you are a supervisor, the pool of your reports is downsized without your input
  7. you find yourself on the receiving end of disciplinary reports [and penalties] when it seems to you that you haven't changed at all (they seem like "nitpicking.")
  8. If you used to regularly travel to see customers and suppliers, suddenly, you are removed from that and any communication with customers and suppliers is forced to "go through channels"
  9. You are asked to take a pay cut (pay cuts are really the kiss of death) - by suggesting it, the bosses are telling you you are less valuable to the company; by accepting it, you are admitting you are less valuable. Instead, offer to reduce hours, but at the same pay (a four day week instead of five, not fewer hours per day) - your logic should be: "If there's less work, I still have the same value for the work I do, why hang around if I can do the job in four days instead of five? We can add back the day when we get more work." JUST BE SURE TO KEEP ANY BENEFITS! If you have to work "X" hours per week to qualify, make sure you get those in.
  10. If you notice things not generally observed by coworkers (a copy left in the copy machine of a proposal for a security firm to supply guards may be a hint there will be a mass layoff with guards present to maintain order and escort laid off folks off the premises.) An order for TSA-type metal detectors may or may not be accompanied by some blather about "increased security" for employees, but the real reason is often advance thinking of security for the bosses from some deranged ex-employee pushed over the edge by a layoff.
There may be other red flags - if you think of any, be sure to tell us about them!

ACTION TO TAKE

In a good economy or bad, these warning signs are telling you to get your act together and start preparing for the inevitable. With luck, you can get out BEFORE the ax falls. Even without luck, you may be prepared and can avoid the "post partum depression" which can paralyze your job hunt. Our job hunt threads
Thinking about a New Job for New Year?
http://elsmar.com/Forums/showthread.php?t=19619
Resume and cover letter - How good are yours?
http://elsmar.com/Forums/showthread.php?t=10169
The Job Hunt - Care and feeding of references
http://elsmar.com/Forums/showthread.php?t=19094
Tips to get past the "gatekeeper" when job hunting
http://elsmar.com/Forums/showthread.php?t=9325
are a good place to start, but don't rely on them exclusively. As always, I recommend "What Color is Your Parachute?" (http://www.jobhuntersbible.com/) as a fair source of information.
 
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U

UK Steve

#12
Phew Wes! Your bosses across the pond sound like a bunch of 'stand-up guys':( (is that the right phrase?)

We are about to embark on a 4 day week (20% wage cut) this month for an initial 90 days. However the likelihood is that this will continue for a further 6 months! What makes it worse is that the company has taken advantage of the downturn to announce a move to Asia at the end of 2010. Resulting in major job losses. Talk about rubbing salt in the wound!

The problem a lot of employees have is that jumping ship is not a viable option as:
a. there's very little to jump into
b. many employees have 20+ years service and don't want to risk missing out on the 'promised' redundancy pay-offs.

Tough call eh :confused:

As for seeing it coming? Well the 'low cost economy' warning signs have been around for a number of years now and it was really only a case of when and not if :(

As for future planning? I've worked in Manufacturing all my life - much of it in the Quality field - and gradually witnessed it flushed down the toilet in the UK. So perhaps its time for a change? I recently became a certified SSBB and CQE (although I get a blank look from Quality personnel over here when I say mention CQE :confused:) I'm seriously now considering 'swotting up' on how I might transfer my manufacturing skills to the Commerce sector.

Anyone ever made that leap?
 
#13
Phew Wes! Your bosses across the pond sound like a bunch of 'stand-up guys':( (is that the right phrase?)
Probably not! "Stand up guys" are the guys who will stand with you in a fight to the end. Many of the bosses we describe here are the WIFM lowlifes. (WIFM = "What's in it for me?") These guys are the ones who throw others from the life raft in order to have more room for themselves.

We are about to embark on a 4 day week (20% wage cut) this month for an initial 90 days. However the likelihood is that this will continue for a further 6 months! What makes it worse is that the company has taken advantage of the downturn to announce a move to Asia at the end of 2010. Resulting in major job losses. Talk about rubbing salt in the wound!

The problem a lot of employees have is that jumping ship is not a viable option as:
a. there's very little to jump into
b. many employees have 20+ years service and don't want to risk missing out on the 'promised' redundancy pay-offs.

Tough call eh :confused:
Yep. Tough, indeed. Sometimes, though, those "redundancy payoffs" ARE more promise than reality. In our job threads, we talk about creating a matrix grid of a job candidate's skills versus the needs or requirements of target employers as part of the research which goes into the job hunt. See more below.
As for seeing it coming? Well the 'low cost economy' warning signs have been around for a number of years now and it was really only a case of when and not if :(

As for future planning? I've worked in Manufacturing all my life - much of it in the Quality field - and gradually witnessed it flushed down the toilet in the UK. So perhaps its time for a change? I recently became a certified SSBB and CQE (although I get a blank look from Quality personnel over here when I say mention CQE :confused:) I'm seriously now considering 'swotting up' on how I might transfer my manufacturing skills to the Commerce sector.

Anyone ever made that leap?
Yep. In fact, more and more folks are making that leap. In the last year or two, we've had a flurry of threads over in the ASQ Forums about folks moving from manufacturing to banking and health care with their quality engineering and managing skill set. Recent events in banking and health care indicate not enough made the move!;) Other job sectors to consider are government and not-for-profits. In many countries, so-called NGOs (non-government organizations) are important and meaningful social agencies which can use the skills of quality folk in helping societies build efficient infrastructures.

Simply stated (perhaps not so simply accomplished), the job candidate's job is to seriously assess the skill set and experience he has and research ALL potential (target) employers to find a match between his skill set and what the target organization NEEDS (realizing that, often, the target may not currently realize it needs that skill set.) Here is where salesmanship (selling the benefits and value) come to the fore. In a tough economy, every employer is swamped with folks of varying abilities and skills, clamoring to get noticed and hired. The successful candidate is the one who does the best and most efficient job of matching his skills with what the target needs and convincing the target the candidate is the one, best choice!
 
X

xavierFR

#14
In a tough economy, every employer is swamped with folks of varying abilities and skills, clamoring to get noticed and hired. The successful candidate is the one who does the best and most efficient job of matching his skills with what the target needs and convincing the target the candidate is the one, best choice!
Hello Wes,

Unfortunately, regarding my short experience, this is not what top management consider as the most successful candidate. And unfortunately again, the top management masters totally the company's future, which is their role but not their interests.

Actually, I lie. only the very small company (and us) will agree with you and your "most successful candidate" as "efficient job of matching his skills". Fortunately for them...

In one word, if your are skilled, go to work and help a small business, it doesn't help (on short and financial term) but you will know what you worth quickly. Otherwise... you will be welcome onto the big multinational companies. Mostly if they are more preoccupied for their own business.

I take this party to balance a little bit against Wes's opinion which sounds too hard in my point of view. Once again due maybe to lack in english.

I don't want to confront us, Wes. It depens so much on our experiences, meeting, nature.

:) Xav
 
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S

silentrunning

#15
Going in a different direction - I have always tried to be a pleasant employee (don't read *ss kisser into this). If you try to be upbeat and be a problem solver instead of a problem creator, your job will be more secure if all other elements are equal. I am close to 35 years with my present employer and have seen many "indispensable" people let go over the years because they never brought a solution to the table. Knowledge and a good attitude are two very good weapons to fight the unemployment war with.
 
#16
Hello Wes,

Unfortunately, regarding my short experience, this is not what top management consider as the most successful candidate. And unfortunately again, the top management masters totally the company's future, which is their role but not their interests.

Actually, I lie. only the very small company (and us) will agree with you and your "most successful candidate" as "efficient job of matching his skills". Fortunately for them...

In one word, if your are skilled, go to work and help a small business, it doesn't help (on short and financial term) but you will know what you worth quickly. Otherwise... you will be welcome onto the big multinational companies. Mostly if they are more preoccupied for their own business.

I take this party to balance a little bit against Wes's opinion which sounds too hard in my point of view. Once again due maybe to lack in english.

I don't want to confront us, Wes. It depens so much on our experiences, meeting, nature.

:) Xav
Going in a different direction - I have always tried to be a pleasant employee (don't read *ss kisser into this). If you try to be upbeat and be a problem solver instead of a problem creator, your job will be more secure if all other elements are equal. I am close to 35 years with my present employer and have seen many "indispensable" people let go over the years because they never brought a solution to the table. Knowledge and a good attitude are two very good weapons to fight the unemployment war with.
Let's get one thing straight - 99% of what I write about employment practices, good bosses, lousy bosses, good employees, lousy employees, and the techniques which are successful in getting a job and those techniques which are rarely successful in getting or keeping a job is based on my personal experience as a "suit" in a number of companies over a 40+ year career. Included in that history was a stint as an involuntary principal stockholder in what was Chicago's largest employment agency in the 1970s (a borrower defaulted on a loan and I foreclosed on the collateral.)

As you may or may not have gathered from my writing in the Cove over the years, I pay attention to BOTH the big picture and the details of my business affiliations, as owner, customer, supplier. I'm the kind of guy who is very pragmatic in my business dealings - I'm passionate, but not emotional. One thing I have probably NEVER said (and meant) was "It's not the money, it's the principle."

I leave revenge to fools, but I also don't leave money on the table unless it buys me an advantage down the line. If someone cheats me, I will try to get my money back, but I don't waste my time trying to also extract a pound of flesh. If it costs more to chase my money than what I lost, I just write it off and move on. I like to win, but I don't throw good money after bad.

It may surprise some readers, but the vast majority of other "suits" I've met and dealt with over those 40+ years are also pretty pragmatic. It is a truism that the way to get the attention of most executives is to frame the proposal around dollars and cents, being sure to make it clear there is also an advantage to that executive in the way of money or glory (which usually translates into money somewhere down the road.)

Thus, if an employee or candidate wants to get hired or stay hired, he has better odds of doing so if he can make his current or potential value known to the executive who will make the decision on the situation. Most executives see through the a$$ kissers and brown noses, but may keep them around as "insulation" to use as canon fodder and sacrificial lambs when their backs are against the wall.

In truth, NO ONE is indispensable to a business and most executives firmly believe EVERY job has a monetary value, which is the basis for key man insurance policies on employees and business partners. (Anybody could get hit by a bus on any given day!) If there is no key man policy on you, it is because the bosses believe you can be easily replaced without too much monetary cost (certainly less cost than the premium on such a policy.)

If you are complacent about your job status, you will be the most devastated if a surprise layoff hits you.

I write these posts about jobs, how to get them, and how to keep them for two reasons:

  1. It's easier to refer someone to a Forum thread than to repeat myself time after time when even casual acquaintances ask my advice. I'm not keeping back any "secret" advice. It's all there for folks to use or ignore. I usually only start a new thread on the topic of jobs as a result of being asked about it or encountering the topic in my daily coming and going.
  2. I pay attention to responses in the threads. I'm not so old that I think I know everything. Rarely a day goes by in the Cove that I don't pick up some new tidbit that may prove useful down the road. I'm also not so dogmatic that I can't change my mind when new information belies things I thought were facts. (Heck - when I was in grammar school, big time scientists were still ridiculing the tectonic plate theory!)
Bottom line:
All the job threads I start are intended to be informative, not controversial. If someone has a different view and cares to write it, I don't carry a grudge or start a vendetta. DIFFERENT VIEWS ARE WHAT FORUMS ARE INTENDED TO ELICIT> It is expected folks will contribute their knowledge and general experiences to the discussion, but personal attacks, however, are always off limits.
 
X

xavierFR

#17
Well...

ok.

It's hard for me to believe that 80% of your post (interesting, emotional) was motivated by :
I don't want to confront us, Wes. It depens so much on our experiences, meeting, nature.
Please, allow me to reply to 20% concerning your real thread.

Thus, if an employee or candidate wants to get hired or stay hired, he has better odds of doing so if he can make his current or potential value known to the executive who will make the decision on the situation
I can not totally agree with the fact that whatever his skills? yes and no. but maybe it's what you are talking. In this fact, we share the same point of view that the skills are not the only key for a stable future:
Unfortunately, regarding my short experience, this is not what top management consider as the most successful candidate.
Simply stated (perhaps not so simply accomplished), the job candidate's job is to seriously assess the skill set and experience he has and research ALL potential (target) employers to find a match between his skill set and what the target organization NEEDS
"Organisation Needs" = or not = to interests of "Top management"?

If you answer me (and please do) that both are equal I will be really surprised and force to tell you that (is not generality but almost, best evidence all around us):

if the top management will place their interests aside to defend the real interest of the organisation, the real interest of the society with ethical and a deep industrial logic (to talk about industry) then we would we able to require motivation and improvement for everyone of us, employees.

Until this very easy accessible situation :mg:, we will copy the behavior of our top management, often not skills not logical but primitive instinct to survive without any pride to do something sensible for the community.

One of the best way to fake this? select your employer, do select them as they select us, giving the credit for a real initiative and contructive behavior.
Unfortunately, with 10% of unemployment, hard to engage such change.

Yes, I know, I am utopist and young. poor youth, isn't it?
 
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#18
Well...

ok.

It's hard for me to believe that 80% of your post (interesting, emotional) was motivated by :
Please, allow me to reply to 20% concerning your real thread.

I can not totally agree with the fact that whatever his skills? yes and no. but maybe it's what you are talking. In this fact, we share the same point of view that the skills are not the only key for a stable future:
"Organisation Needs" = or not = to interests of "Top management"?

If you answer me (and please do) that both are equal I will be really surprised and force to tell you that (is not generality but almost, best evidence all around us):

if the top management will place their interests aside to defend the real interest of the organisation, the real interest of the society with ethical and a deep industrial logic (to talk about industry) then we would we able to require motivation and improvement for everyone of us, employees.

Until this very easy accessible situation :mg:, we will copy the behavior of our top management, often not skills not logical but primitive instinct to survive without any pride to do something sensible for the community.

One of the best way to fake this? select your employer, do select them as they select us, giving the credit for a real initiative and contructive behavior.
Unfortunately, with 10% of unemployment, hard to engage such change.

Yes, I know, I am utopist and young. poor youth, isn't it?
Let me repeat:
Bottom line:
All the job threads I start are intended to be informative, not controversial. If someone has a different view and cares to write it, I don't carry a grudge or start a vendetta. DIFFERENT VIEWS ARE WHAT FORUMS ARE INTENDED TO ELICIT> It is expected folks will contribute their knowledge and general experiences to the discussion, but personal attacks, however, are always off limits.

I don't see ANY personal attack here!

A person can be the most skilled person on earth, but if the bosses don't recognize that skill and its value, he might be on the short list.

I don't expect ANYONE to be selfless and think of the organization first. A person's first duty is to himself and family. Organizations, governments, even deities come after personal survival. You can't serve ANY of them if you aren't around!

This means in the short term, don't hide your light under a bushel and expect bosses to miraculously know how valuable you are to the organization. Seek feedback, promote yourself and your value so the bosses are aware of your value. Feedback is important so you know your message about your value is getting through to the boss. When communication disappears between boss and employee, the employee is relegated to low man on the totem pole and we are all aware feces is subject to gravity.
 
S

somerqc

#19
Returning to the subject matter of the OP.

About 6 years ago I was working elsewhere, someone made the comment to me about the new HR manager "She has worked down to a plant shutdown before". I took that as a hint and started my process of getting out before the doors were closed.

Well, I did take me almost 2 years to find a position (fortunately, I used that hint so I was able to reject some offers within that time).

Conclusion -

The company has went from 300+ employees when I left to less than 10. They are currently in the process of completely shutting down all Canadian actions. Manufacturing was essentially shutdown over 2 years ago.

Me? I am still at the company I moved to. I have managed the process of reaching ISO 9001 registration (just reached 2 years of registration) and am about to start on my next major improvement project.

Wes is correct when he tries to tell us to keep our eyes and ears open. There are times when you need to "see" things and other times you need to "hear" things.

Maybe I have a good "spidey sense", but, everyone needs to be aware of what is happening around them in order to protect themselves. You also need to be aware of where you are in the "pecking order". This is a new lesson for me (fortunately, this is a case of learning from others). A friend was let go in November. He was very shocked. After letting him recover, we were talking about the situation. He explained to me that there were 4 people at his level. 2 were guys that were "untouchable" or what I call "not the 1st out the door". That left him and one other - he was cheaper to let go. So there is life. If you are in a similar situation (re: bottom of the totem pole) and things start slowing - start your planning.

I hope I never have to use my "spidey sense" again and I hope these real life situations and others comments help people be more aware in their own situations.
 
Q

qualityboi

#20
What did I learn?

The warning signs are implicit to me, but thanks for listing them anyway.

Ok to the original post I learned this:
1. Get letters of reference (not from your boss unless you have already been notified of the layoff otherwise it sends a message that you are moving on even before the layoff).

2. Gather a portfolio of your sucessful projects. (of course those that don't compromise the companies IP). I have templates, databases (empty), many many useful tools I have picked up over the years archived. I have used many projects that I used in the nuclear field and applied them successfully to my current job.

3. Network network network...yes you may end up batting for the otherside...(the competition)

4. If you have the option, pick the Boss, not the job. Even the most rewarding job can suck if you have a bad boss. But every job I had where I had a good boss, I was happy in my job.

5. Screw the pride. Take jobs that people don't want. I still see substitute teacher openings, janitorial jobs etc.

6. Have a plan B or C. I call it my sh*t hits the fan plan. My personal plan is where I declare bankruptcy and go back to school and live off school loans and unemployment benefits. Also, remember that money is a perception, whether I die in debt or wealthy doesn't matter, you can't take it with you. I have already looked into it. If I build up huge debt, my term life insurance benefits still goes to my beneficiaries, my beneficiaries will not be responsible for my debt (assuming I am not married). I hear too many stories about how this or that generation will be burdened with paying off the national debt...OK so I am still making the same tax payments I always have and so will generations to come. Matter of fact the tax brackets are begin lowered for me (I make less than 250k). So I don't feel any "pain of paying" any national debt past, present or future.
 
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