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On Being Laid Off

To preface this article, it was written about six days after I had found out I had been laid off from Nortel (for some reason, I didn’t want to mention the name?). It is pretty raw but well worth reading if you want to get a feel for how it feels to be given the boot from a company after 20 years of service (no bitterness here, though).

Those who are regular readers know that I work in the High Tech industry at a large telecommunications company. This previous sentence was true until Wednesday, July 30th (2008), when my position there was declared redundant. I was given a  generous severance package.

This is not a parable or a story. This transpired. I am now gainfully looking for employment after 20 years at the same company. As I mentioned yesterday, this will most likely temper and change this blog’s tone to be less “savings” oriented and more “survival” introduced. As most can tell, I write about things in the financial area that matter to my family and me. This kind of upheaval and change is bound to cause a thematic shift in my writings.

I have spoken to many people about this already (including most of my loved ones, hopefully, no more are learning from odd places, as my Brother learned from a comment I left on an industry website). I have “activated” my network of contacts for job searching.

Suppose you have requests for articles and recommendations from my readers about this event in my life. In that case, however, I must say that legally I am not allowed to say how much my severance package is, and there are some other points I am not supposed to discuss that I can’t remember. The severance package I received is very generous (but it should be given I have been there for 20 years and am now 47 years old), and I have been given access to a firm that will help me prepare to find a new job.

I am also eager to hear stories of redemption and success in this area. Helpful tips on how to survive and, better still, overcome this tumultuous event in any worker’s career are also appreciated.


The severance package ended up being about ten months’ pay and another four months had I not found a job. I never saw the four months, but I got the package’s first part. As I have written previously, this was a gut punch to me.

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Feel Free to Comment

  1. Oh I’m sorry to hear this news! This must be a hard time for you and your family but I’m sure you’ll survive to see better times. Good luck with your job search.

  2. An engineer friend of mine was working on a project at a small company that was subsequently purchased by a bigger company. The project went south and he got laid off.
    He got a generous severance as they recognized his service for the company they acquired.
    I think it took him about 5 months to find work (he did QA mostly). It seemed hopeless at times but he kept at it. He now has a great job at a small company doing software QA and customer support. Also his workplace is much closer to home now and his commute is 1/4 of what it was at the other place.
    He is the sole income earner for his family and is, incidentally, an incomplete quadriplegic.
    I also worked for BNR/Nortel in Ottawa for 6 years+ before moving west in 2000. Most of the people I worked with have moved on/been laid off and found jobs fairly quickly afterward.
    A friend of mine is a recruiter in Ottawa also.
    I can pass his info to you or yours to him if you would like.

  3. Sorry to hear the news. Been there. Am currently there. You will likely go through all stages of grieving. But remember, this is also an opportunity. There IS life after insert-company-name-here. The severance will hold you for a while financially, so why not look at this as a positive development and use it as an opportunity to take the rest of the summer off and do some things that you’ve wanted to do for a long time?

  4. Sorry to hear the bad news

    Unfortunately I am no stranger to hearing such news recently or over the last 6 months. In fact, I *think* I was almost gone as well

    Good luck in your job search, sometimes it does force you to look upon this as an opportunity to open another door you never thought of. Best wishes!

    It is sad, I have not heard of any good news anywhere for a while to cheer myself up …

  5. Sorry to hear about your job loss, and glad to hear of your decent severance package. I will be following your adventures closely, and hoping for a great outcome. A lot of people look back on a layoff as the best thing that happened to them. I’ve been glad to have quit a job before, so it’s not unheard of by any means.

  6. I am really sorry to hear about your change in material circumstances. The bottom fell out of my stomach when I read your blog. I guess you made it very real. This is where the rubber hits the road in terms of being financially healthy — both literally and emotionally. Keep in mind that whatever you collect in unemployment will likely be taxed right back if your back at work in good time, so once you go back to work, put away a little extra to deal with the tax next year. No doubt you have the best “advisors” in the world, but if you need to bounce ideas, I’m happy to listen. You can be an important guide through the next few months since there’s going to be more of this, and people are going to panic. With your sound voice whispering good sense, they will feel better. Hang tough. Keep smiling.

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