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Ask HN: How many of you have been impacted by a layoff?
164 points by mrburton 39 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 169 comments
I'm curious to see how many of you have been impacted and how you bounced back? I'm building a project around this and would love to hear about your experience.



Yup. Happened to me. Big corporate decided most of our floor were surplus to requirements. Got an email on Sunday telling us to be in early on Monday for an off-site meeting.

Got handed my redundancy / compromise agreement and told not to return to the office. And, the kicker, told my non-compete meant I couldn't work for a competitor during the redundancy process.

It was devastating and emotionally wrecking. It was like being dumped, out of the blue, from a multi-year relationship. And being told you couldn't see anyone else. I went through all the classic stages of grief.

And then...

I contacted my Trade Union and explained the situation. They took a look at the contract I'd been given, passed it to a very expensive lawyer, who made a couple of phone calls.

The next week I was free to work for whoever I wanted and was paid ~7 months salary (tax free).

Join. A. Union.

Your employer has more lawyers than you do. Pay a couple of quid per month to have decent legal representation on hand when you need it.

That layoff was the best thing to happen to me. Shook me out of my cosy job, forced me into building my own consultancy, and taught me the power of solidarity.


The way you said it - "join a union" - made me think that unions may be a good idea in software if anyone can join and leave any time. This would be like insurance that funds a big nonprofit with very motivated (and well paid) lawyers. 250 usd / month shouldn't bankrupt a software dev and 100k such devs (a large corp) would bring 250 M/year. There's definitely a room for a few unions in the US with 200-500 m/year budgets. The first thing to do would be banning non competes at the federal level.


Although the idea is promising, 250 a month is too high. At 100k, your bring home is roughly 70(varies greatly by state). And then you'd pay almost 5% of that to a union to help insure your job. My mom's Union fees were well below 1% of her bring home.


Should be deductible at least. Unfortunately, I did Google it, and they are not, though they were before the recent tax law (though they were counted employer expenses which meant almost no 'normal employee' would be able to do so).

That being said, we're a smart group. We should easily be able to find some loophole just like all the big corps do. Couldn't we form a LLC, all become members, and use the fees as an investment loss each year? When it pays out a severance, pay taxes on the income as you would with employer provided disability insurance.

But yeah, even a $100 / month would be enough, I think, to start it off.

Let's get 1000 members * $100 * 12 and that's $1.2M a year. To start, hire two very good lawyers at $250K / year and a few other auxiliary staff, create a union-only forum that's easily searchable, and start populating it with anecdotes.


I think a union is a different structure than LLC and plays by different rules. Regardless, the first step should be talking to a proper attorney who can explain what requirements need to be met to make this organisation a union.


Rule of thumb I head somewhere is that union dues should be around half hour of wage per week, assuming full time employment. Not sure what it would be for part timers.


Half an hour out of forty hours is 1.25%.

For GP's 70K per annum wage that is 73 dollars a month.


In the UK I'm free to join and leave a union any time I want. My monthly cost is £20. That's about US$25.

If you're on a lower income, you pay less.


Which union if you don't me asking?

How do you find the service/them generally?


https://www.prospect.org.uk/

I've been with them for about 15 years and very happy with their service, training, etc.


Non-compete usually don't hold up in court in our field. You have to remember that somebody has to prove damages somewhere. Who do you think every court sides with when you're the only one who can demonstrate damages and they were the ones who let you go?

So unless you worked for a car wash and then go open a car wash across the street. Its not even worth thinking about.


I'm sure that's true. I'm also sure I don't want the stress of having to prepare for a court case.


Totally depends on jurisdiction, but where I am, labour lawyers will usually do a free consult, and can extract their ongoing costs if an employer underpaid you owed severance and termination pay if you were suddenly fired.

Sane employers will pay lawyer costs if they know they’d lose in court.

But that’s Canada.


In the UK your employer when laying you off has to pay up to £250 to cover a lawyer looking over the severance agreement. Source: personal experience.


It's the same in most of Europe. A letter from a lawyer can be worth much more than from an employee and lawyers won't charge you if they expect the employer to pay the cost anyway.


I agree that the employee/employer relationship is highly asymmetrical.

I'm now an employer of one, in Europe, and I can tell you I passed up on many candidates where the screening error bars should have been acceptable, but the error multipled by cost of firing were not.

I suspect this actually a negative pressure on diversity as well, since any unconscious uncertainty is multiplied by the risk, regardless of how hard we try to control for our internal biases.

A pooled legal team is probably a good idea to take care of the truely illegal stuff and provide advice based on industry standards.

For knowledge workers at least, I believe union style employee protections are going to reduce the opportunity of average and below workforce and not benefit the top either.


Kudos on starting out on your own and love your landing page design. Very minimalist and mobile friendly.


Are there unions for software devs?


I was - and still am - a member of https://www.prospect.org.uk/

It may be more appropriate for you to join a union which is recognised in your workplace. You can find one at https://www.tuc.org.uk/join-union


Could you clarify what it means for a union to be recognised in your workplace?


This may be UK specific, but as Vice chair of the New Digital division of Prospect the quick version is:

Recongnition is where a union has a formal agreement to negotiate collectively either by mutual agreement or via the legal process (similar to the us system)

However unions will still represent members individually I have done so in the past.

The union that has the majority of technology workers who are union members is Prospect - this is tech in the widest sense.


FYI the “we save you money” link on the homepage leads to a 404 - https://prospect.org.uk/about/well-save-you-money/



Makes me want to lawyer up for relatively small shit than this but nonetheless shit, for an employer calling me low energy on taking a day off for flu and then telling me that my next 6 months' leaves are withdrawn.


I was laid off around 7 years ago. It was a massive hit to my self esteem and confidence and I actually considered leaving tech and going back to wood working (I used to build furniture).

I managed to bounce back somewhat accidentally. A guy needed help with a Wordpress store he used to sell his woodworking products, so I did some stuff for him. He was so happy with what I did, he ended up telling other people. They got a hold of me about some work, then other people, and other people... and suddenly I was building bespoke applications on long term contracts making 3-4x as much as I was before I was laid off.

It was stressful because I didn't have the experience to suddenly run my own business, and I was bad at it. I did an okay job writing code, my customers were happy with that, but I'd invoice a month late, I'd forget to track time and inevitably bill too little because I couldn't bring myself to charge what I knew it was worth, I was a bad communicator at times, terrible at estimating time in certain conditions, etc.

That was a huge help in building the self awareness I needed to move forward in my career. Still working on that, and still super grateful for that layoff in retrospect.


Awesome story. Always good to get a reminder that running your own business is not the same as being good at doing what your business does.

A friend of mine once told me that there are three equally important things for a contractor/consultant/small business owner to do:

* find the work

* do the work

* get paid for the work

All necessary.


Absolutely. The last step can be surprisingly hard and requires a good skill set in dealing with people.


When I was laid off early in my career, I took a massive emotional hit. I was only making $35k a year programming at 20, but it was my way out of the poor living conditions.

When they laid off my entire team, I was upset, afraid, and angry. I told myself I would never work in IT again.

Then I realized how much I love coding and that I initially got into it, not knowing I could make a living. I got pulled back into it; like the mob :)


Great story. Good luck going forward.


Personally, I haven't been laid off, but wanted to recognize that a layoff also affects those who weren't: morale drop, worry, survivor's guilt, stress leading to physical symptoms, etc.

Sometimes, this can quickly lead to a downward spiral effect at the company. Productivity falls and whatever issues the layoff was intended to remedy end up being magnified instead. This is usually the case when - before the layoff - there was either "writing on the wall" (that typically management wouldn't admit to publicly) or an inherent distrust of management.

What really sucks is the pile on. Recruiters watch for these moments and jump on them like piranhas. They notice a sudden spike on LinkedIn of resume updates by people all working at the same company and hone in on those still there, reaching out to see if they want to take a look at other possibilities. Simply put: no one wants to be the last one to go down with the ship.

Whatever project you're building/working on, please remember those who weren't laid off, too.


> Recruiters watch for these moments and jump on them like piranhas.

Really, that would be the best outcome. You’re retained because you’re valuable. Recruiters see that and think here’s someone I can make more money. Leaving a company for one that’s on better financial footing makes business sense.


I went through a site layoff where of all the developers only me and another guy got relocation packages instead of severance. I would have much preferred the severance since I had to put in my resignation to avoid moving.


I do agree that layoffs don't just affect those who were laid off. I'm building a product now that I'm testing to work out any bugs and will do a release soon.

The platform isn't only those laid off; it could also be used by those still employed and worry about being laid off.

Early in my career, a company I worked at has a round of layoffs. I remember thinking about my stability. I was assured by those more senior around me that we would be fine. Three months later, our entire department was also laid off.

I haven't been experienced such a scenario since, but to your point.. I wouldn't sit around.


Yup, I've been on both sides: survived a round, and got caught in the next. The first round was brutal. It happened on a Friday morning. Some really good people were let go, including one guy who was taken out to the senior leadership summit the week before. We didn't get a thing done that day. We left early, and did our best to help our friends start lining up things.

In the last round, it was a Tuesday. We had just discussed lunch when in walked HR and the CTO. They announced they were closing the office. Very hollow announcement. It was definitely not the best way to do it.In between the time they told us, and my turn to go into get my comp paperwork, I sent out a tweet just asking for leads. By the end of the day, I had multiple leads. I gave myself 24 hours to be sad about it. By the time Tuesday evening came around, I was going out riding with a cycling shop, and used that to put things behind me. Wednesday I woke up to 6 interviews scheduled, with another 6 on Thursday. I had a job the next week. Thankfully I wasn't too rocked because I had the finances to stay above water.


Which field do you work in?


I lost my job in January because the company closed the office in my country, haven't written a single line of code since then, looking for motivation to start again but I feel like an absolute failure and don't know what to do now. The fact that I stopped coding 10 months ago and wasn't even a good developer, to begin with, isn't helping. I guess I need therapy.


When I am having a problem getting up the gumption to tackle something, programming-wise, I tell myself that I'm not going to do the actual code yet, just comments (TODOs and such) about what I will do eventually.

Some of those comments, are just sentences, but then sometimes it's easier to just put the code in the comment, than to describe it in any other way. Still commented out, though. I'm not coding this now, just saying what i will do, eventually.

After a while, sometimes I uncomment a few sections, and test just those little functions to see that they work, anyway. But basically, I'm not coding now, don't have the energy or will to do it right now.

Sometimes, it is enough to get me going, and I turn the comments into code. Other times, I stop for the day once everything is planned out, as much as I can at this point. Either way, it is better than not approaching it at all, because it seems to require (psychologically) a smaller step to code it once I do come back to it the next day, because everything is planned out.

If you don't have a job in programming just now, do puzzles, do a small app for organizing your recipes or books, do something. It doesn't have to be something which anyone else will ever want or need to see, just something to exercise that part of your brain.


Only answering this comment to avoid spamming: just a quick message to thank everyone for the great support and advice, I've started solving some problems on LeetCode today and I should be back to working on my personal app by the end of the week. Thanks again, everyone.


A layoff isn’t about you! The company said they don’t want anyone working in that position anymore, not just you. It doesn’t reflect on you at all! :)


Not true when the company that laid you off constantly posts job openings with your exact job description. You're forgetting about things like age discrimination, too. For example, I'm in my 50s and had a long history with my previous employer. Promotions, bonuses, etc. However, big companies in the US do layoffs to get rid of pension liabilities. I had no pension at this company, but because of my age I was tagged. Why? Age demographics...including those without pensions in the layoff rounds let the company show they were not violating the WARN Act and others (in the US) by singling out only pension holders.


Don't feel like a failure because some company closed an office you worked in. It had nothing to do with you or your work.


Thanks for sharing. It takes a lot of courage to admit the need for therapy. It will get better. Take care!


Create an urgency to deliver. Use that as a motivator.

1) Promise someone you value/respect to deliver some program

2) Join an interesting coding competition

3) Help teach kids programming.

4) Figure out if you can solve a problem in your current scenario with any program.

Concentrate on the process/act of doing it, rather than the thing itself. Learn to enjoy doing it. Also if you are not doing it already, I would suggest to start exercising or playing a physical sport which would put you in better frame of mind.


Get paid projects from online sites, get moving, do some exercises, get the momentum back. It will be hard to get out of the quicksand otherwise.


Use it as fuel! All of us feel like a failure at some point, it's just a question of faking it until you make it!


You can try going to meetups, participate to the local developer community. There you will realize how much of your self-deprecation is justified or not. Identify your weak spots and work on them, but also realize your strong points and use them to climb out of it.

And yes, talk to a counsellor as well if you feel it helps.


Do a few LeetCode puzzles each day. You want to keep things fresh, plus they're the kind of thing that people ask for before interview stages these days.

And you'll inevitably learn something. Bite sized so you can for it into your day.


I've been "laid off" pretty much every six months for the past several years. Over and over my team has been out sourced for a cheaper alternative. Or the project was not properly scoped and would be above budget.

This happened last week. Me and my team delivered a high frequency trading platform. Ahead of schedule, and better performance than requested. But still, we were too costly so we were all let go. Then it was shipped over seas.

I'm really questioning what I want to do now. I love coding, but constantly being outsourced is getting very tired.


>Me and my team delivered a high frequency trading platform. Ahead of schedule, and better performance than requested.

Sounds like you have the startings of your own business there.


Intellectual assignment clause. It's limited a lot of ideas I've had. Combining that with constantly having to look for a way to provide a roof. It limits the ability to start a new business.


>Intellectual assignment clause. It's limited a lot of ideas I've had.

You had those ideas right after the contract with the assignment clause was terminated though, right?


This was an assigned project, so the idea / implementation was not my own. The dev / architecture is something I use on most projects I work with though.


I think you're missing the implicit "wink wink" lol

Unless you signed some non-compete that extends beyond the time you were employed (and you're in a jurisdiction where that's actually enforceable), taking that idea and whipping up a new implementation from scratch (then selling it to other businesses, including, say, your former employers' competitors) should be perfectly legal. It might be a bit below-the-belt, but well, maybe said former employer should've thought about that before kicking you to the curb :)


One possibility is to work on contract only, billing appropriately (i.e. significantly more than "permanent" salary), so that you _know_ it's just temporary. This way, you don't have as much emotional whiplash of thinking of this as your future and then it gets pulled away. Of course, it's not for everyone, just suggesting a possibility.


Thanks.

I've already tried to go this route. I actually avoid full time now at this point, for this reason. But the lack of delivered projects, and highlights on my resume. Have limited the upper amount of my rate.


Where are you based?


Philadelphia / remote.


without knowing your experience, did you try working for google etc?

I can maybe offer my help, on how to study for interviews and so on. it's not hard, but it's annoying to code algorithms and whatnot. It's a muscle that needs exercising.


I work in games sooooo...

First job was at a small games startup making J2ME games. Folded after six months. Got paid what I was owed.

Then I worked at Realtime Worlds which folded after the launch of APB. Company crashed and burnt leaving me out of pocket.

Worked for CCP Games and went through many rounds of layoffs over the years I was there. I get jittery about unannounced all hands thanks to this. Was never laid off but left after getting a better offer.

Joined Autodesk who were pretty excellent as an employer in comparison to any games job previously. There was a big reorg at the start of the new year after I had joined and a lot of satellite teams were let go. We stayed on due to a big project. Laid off during my last week of paternity leave when the project was canned. They handled it very well and I ended up with three months of gardening leave which suited me fine spending time with my family.

Since then I’ve worked for two more companies and haven’t been laid off thankfully. For the most part I think I’ve bounced back pretty well. I’ve always had a new job within a couple of weeks of being laid off which obviously helps make you feel secure. I definitely am super anxious about the possibility though and having seen so many friends and colleagues lose their jobs hate any thing that smells like it’s in the offing.

As a positive I’ve seen too many good people get laid off to think it’s any indicator of lack of skill or desirability.


> As a positive I’ve seen too many good people get laid off to think it’s any indicator of lack of skill or desirability.

100%. From the one time I saw layoffs it looked like an excel spreadsheet calculation. (I wasn't laid off, survived two during the dot bomb era.)

I actually have sympathy for folks on both sides of the table. I can't imagine thinking you have a job and being told you don't. And I can't imagine having to go through a list of team members (some of whom you might have recruited or worked with) and telling them the same.


I too was at Realtime Worlds, I seem to remember having to pay £20 to cash the £130 cheque because I had moved country.

Stayed in the games industry for a bit after that, but got totally burned out (edit: and suffered another studio imploding) and decided I just didn't have the passion for making games required to either excel or handle the low pay and high risk involved.


I was laid off as part of the last financial crash in Ireland. I’d been working as an administrator at a well known mortgage broker business at the time. We were told the housing bubble wasn’t going to affect our jobs because we did so much other business. In retrospect most of that other business was mortgage-adjacent. Insurance etc. Anyway the boss calls us all in one by one and explains things. I see other people coming out looking shook but it’s my first job out of college so I’m still totally surprised to be told I won’t have a job next week.

I had some help from other people who worked there offering to get me started at another mortgage company, but also had a friend who worked a 20-hour week assisting somebody with a disability, and was looking for his own replacement. At the time this work paid well in Ireland, it was 20 euro an hour, easily the equivalent of a full time entry level job in some other industry. I took that job, lived with one of my college roommates nearby, worked my 20 hour weeks, wrote plays and poems, and played shows with my band, it was great.

I was lucky to be laid off and have that amazing experience. It turned out to influence everything else I did in life, including working for 7 years with folks with disabilities in one way or another, and when switching to full time web development, having a good eye for accessibility.

I was on my way to getting some qualifications and become a financial advisor back in 2009 at that company that laid me off. It’s just what they expected of junior employees. After a certain point I might have fallen into just doing that as my career after sinking some time into learning non-transferable financial skills.


> I'm building a project around this and would love to hear about your experience.

Mind the selection bias. People that went through layoffs, bounced back, are reading HN and decide to publicly share with you their experience are not necessarily representative.

Also take into account ageism in IT. Recently had a video call with an older engineer from SV that's smarter than me which confirmed you can be up to date with the latest tech but once you go through the door (after having scrubbed the CV of any obvious age give-away references) and they see you could be their father it's game over. And this for a contractor position where they can fire you the next day! He was seriously considering retiring for the lack of jobs and not for the lack of skills / work power; also thinking about moving to cheaper locations.

Layoffs push people out of the industry and even work force entirely.

That being said, this post will have some good psychological impact for some.


The small family firm I worked at folded after the owner remortgaged his house. I was told on the Friday and had my last pay check on the monday. (Sad story, I felt for them)

After contracting for a bit and running through my savings I was days away from losing my house when I was offered a great job writing software earning twice as much. 2 years later I was offered a dream job and doubled my salary again.

Today I am forever thankful for my fairly ridiculous salary because I've been at rock bottom.


Don't forget to reinvest / save that extra income.


I'm pretty curious how much you're currently making, I've never worked in the UK finance sector but I understand the salaries are just higher.


Drop me a line; happy to share. I think its relatively market rate for the uk.


What’s current salary? 4x in a couple of years is big except for student -> non student cases


It was 4x in 3 years, 6x in 6 years (so slowing down ha).

Worth stating that I was starting from a below market rate position.


only a few more years until your salary goes to infinity :D


Several times. The first two times were in the span of two years - 2001 and 2003, in the last gasps of the dot-com bust in the Bay Area. Both were due to the companies either going out of business or extreme restructuring to avoid going out of business. I was a middle manager both times. The hardest part was not having saved enough money during the good times, which is a lesson I've never forgotten.

The third time was later in my career and was something of a relief, even if I didn't realize it at the time. I had been in an executive leadership role, overworked, stressed out, and had become ineffective at executing because of the pressure and stress. Being let go didn't hurt as bad as it could have because I had learned the lesson of saving and investing from my previous layoffs, and even though it wasn't a stress-free period, I was able to take about 6 months to decompress, look for work and enjoy the time with my family.

Overall, I'm grateful for the lessons in each of the occasions I was let go. Two key lessons for me were: Save money while the times are good, and work to live, not the other way around. I'm a more balanced person as a result, and I've "grown up" in ways I don't think I would have without these episodes.


Corporate office cancelled our core server hardware line. I saw the pallets of moving boxes come into the office the night before.

I took the opportunity to upload all of my work to the company servers and close out what tickets I could. Came into work the next day in a suit, trying to maintain some semblance of class.

Hardware development got reduced 66%, myself included.

Saw it coming in the nebulous sense, but the layoffs happened about 6 months before I was ready, since I wanted the last product release on my resume.

Took me almost a year before I found stable employment again. 1/10 would not repeat the experience.


A number of years ago, I joined a bank for a 6 month contract position.

3 or 4 weeks in just after I had sorted all of my login details and worked out what I needed to do, they announced they were completely pulling out of the business unit I was in and that thousands of people would be made redundant. This was a huge shock to the market.

Within a few weeks, entire floors had closed down, but surprisingly I didn't get the tap on the shoulder and asked to leave. By complete luck, it turned out I had landed on one highly profitable strategic programme within the business unit where they had commitments they couldn't easily unwind. I therefore stayed in a team of 4 who were the last men standing out of thousands, even though I was completely new to the organisation.

I felt kinda bad as I could have moved to a new contract relatively easily, whilst some people lost their livelihoods. Alas, I completed the contract then moved on.

It shows it's not necessarily a reflection on you as an individual when these things happen.


It shows it's not necessarily a reflection on you as an individual when these things happen

It is never a reflection on the individual. People are not made redundant, positions are.


I was laid off once. I almost feel hesitant/guilty to share this because of how many silver linings it had for me, vs friends I've seen put in much more untenable positions after a layoff; I feel like I got off comparatively easy.

Early in my career I was working as a video game tester. This was effectively just to get my foot in the door to "any sort of tech job" (previously I had only been a Mover). One day, at the end of what seemed like a very normal workday, our entire group was told "our primary contract just got cancelled, we won't have work for you all tomorrow, we'll be in touch if we do but otherwise don't bother coming in."

In hindsight, if that happened to me today I'd probably have an aneurism on the spot, but, likely due to naivete, I just shrugged and thought to myself "well the commute was miserable, the job sucked, and I got a decent chunk of time out of them for the resume" and leaned hard into some connections I had at a local software consultancy; they ended up picking me up as a subcontractor and the rest is history.

There wasn't so much "bounce" for me because simply put, I wasn't far enough in my career to have anywhere real to fall to, and I think if I hadn't already been building connections with the intention of moving into Real Programming Work I would have probably felt quite a bit more panic.

I think the takeaway I'd make from this is that the impact of a layoff, and my ability to bounce back from it, would differ DRASTICALLY based on the surrounding context, but that network/contacts+relevant skills have become a core "must have" in my book of long-term-career-stability.


I’ve been working as an EE for 40 years, for 3 companies who worked or work with the US intel community in S.V. and have never been laid off. That’s not to say I haven’t been impacted. All 3 companies experienced layoffs while I was with them and some very good friends and colleagues were let go. Those hurt, often quite badly. They leave you shaken and wondering why them, not you, and am I next. It’s not being actually laid off, but it is the next worst thing.


I've never been laid off either, but experienced half a dozen or so. Some included the very founders of the business. One person crying, "I love it here. This is my family. You don't even have to pay me, just let me stay. I'll work for free." They didn't let him stay though. :(

This was a hard time: https://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archiv...

> Why Is He Still Smiling? Bill Gross blew through $800 million in 8 months (and he's got nothing to show for it).


I was going to make a very similar point. It's not only the fact of a layoff that impacts those who remain, but it's also how it is done. I think this can change company culture much more negatively than is widely considered as the case.


I want to state how amazing it is that you could have a 40 years career as an engineer in SV while working in only 3 companies (I assume you are in your early 60s).

I'm 36 and the longest I ever stayed in a single job was 4 years.


Some of it is luck but I think my career path choice was a solid one, I am pretty good at what I do and I'm well paid for that, and I've never really cared to go chase those bright shiny jobs that promise a lot but rarely deliver. If I had, maybe I'd be wealthier but, all in all, I satisified with my career.


I not in SV, but an EE working same place for 24 years. Been through 2 rounds of layoffs, stack ranking, etc. Still here. The older I get the less I give a crap. I have zero debt (no mortgage) and 6 figure college savings for 2x kids. I’m really just here for the health insurance and technical challenge. Maybe I’ll get lucky with the next round of layoffs and get a buyout, then start a job-shop or consulting business.


You sound like my alter ego. I'm biding my time, looking for a good point to pull the plug. Like you, health care is my primary reason for staying even though I do like my job. If I was to be let go tomorrow, I don't think I'd really care all that much.


I’m probably in the same line of work as you. Specific skill set (embedded RF/Microwave/Antenna) with a small group of customers. It’s not SV FU money, but still pays very well.


> I have zero debt (no mortgage) and 6 figure college savings for 2x kids

Looks like you've hit the best scenario most people can get in SV, really. Unless they bought their houses years ago.


I have a similar experience- I've been working for nearly 30 years and have not been laid off directly. But many people in my group were laid off over the years


After 25+ years as a SWE in the SV, I realize that layoffs are a part of business as usual. Some companies do it regularly while hiring at the same time (often abroad these days), some do it more often than others, but whenever there is a hiccup, the easiest way to demonstrate "leadership" is to let some folks go. I've survived many "restructurings" on the inside (true, morale suffers, especially when the procedure is botched), and a few times being a part of it. It wasn't hard for me to find another job earlier in my career.

Now, having worked for more than a dozen years at the same Co., and being over 50, I found that getting a job is much, much more difficult. Finally, after _many_ months of actively interviewing, I've landed a position. The funniest part is, after a few short months the entire department has been laid-off. So I'm back on the hunt - only now it's even harder for some reason. I suspect that my last work experience is triggering some ATS filter.

Thankfully, I was able to save a few bucks earlier. Meanwhile, taking classes, playing with Leetcode, etc. "Nothing personal, strictly business" as they say.


I have been at factories that closed (when I worked as a manufacturing engineer), and worked at an IT department that was eliminated (its functions spread among several other departments), and have been told that I, in particular, was done because the company's contract wasn't working out to be as profitable as expected (unspoken, but understood, was that as the senior programmer I was the most expensive one).

I think the first time is the hardest, because of the feeling of panic and also rejection. Later in life, I actually had much more to worry about (wife and kid to support), but experienced much less stress because I knew that I had gotten jobs before, and could do so again.

I think some of this may be that the first time, you have less of an idea of what you need to be doing next. The more of a plan/procedure you have in mind for what to do, the more you can focus on that, and not any emotional impact of what you think about the fairness or correctness of the decision to lay you off.

In truth, for me, being still at work after a layoff or firing of co-workers is much more depressing, but I'm sure that's not true for everyone.


I've been laid-off a couple times (and in one case was on the verge of possibly being laid off, but thankfully found employment elsewhere before that had a chance of happening). I "bounced back" with a combination of persistence, patience, a decent support network, networking, unemployment benefits, and a hell of a lot of luck.

I will say that it absolutely sucks all around. The longer you go without finding a new job, the harder it becomes to get past the suspicious-looking gap in your employment history. Unemployment benefits only cover a portion of your previous pay, and they take awhile to start flowing in (if they're ever approved at all). It's easy to blame yourself (and I still do blame myself). You're left feeling like a complete failure.

I managed to squeeze by thanks to family and being able to take odd-jobs here and there to pay the bills. It's at least slightly easier to justify those gaps if you can claim that you were "freelancing" instead, so that's exactly what I did, in the meantime sending applications and résumés everywhere I could only to get rejections (or - worse - no response at all).

Even now, having had my current job for awhile now, it still weirds me out when I actually get praise. Every time I'm pulled into some one-on-one with my boss I get a sinking feeling of "welp, time's up, better polish off the ol' curriculum vitæ" only for those fears to be unfounded. I guess "impostor syndrome" is a thing, but my brain at this point is trained to believe that I actually am an impostor and am pretending to have impostor syndrome to rationalize my incompetence.

So I guess objectively-speaking I "bounced back", but it sure as hell doesn't feel that way.


> The longer you go without finding a new job, the harder it becomes to get past the suspicious-looking gap in your employment history.

I lucked out once here at an software interview - my parents had bought a house that they were having renovated, and I spent a few months between jobs acting as a general contractor, and doing some of the labour that I was qualified for myself. Turned out my interviewer was a former carpenter, so we spent a while chatting about that.


I'm still reeling.

The startup I was working on here hired a new creative director who immediately 'pivoted to video' and laid me off, the only in-house content manager and producer. As I'm not a 'video editor', I got chopped via re-org.

Still shuffling around NYC looking for a better opportunity in content strategy, and in the meantime looking into starting my own boutique content solutions LLC.

It hurts, though.


I narrowly avoided layoffs when I worked in the enterprise space for years; finally got spooked enough after a very large merger that I left to go work in the start-up space.

Got laid off two weeks ago with not much to walk away with except a weeks salary. There were severe cash-flow problems, and I get the impression that those that remained at work are potentially facing some more layoffs soon.

Sort of freaked out for a day or so and started grinding through the "find a new job ASAP" process. Thankfully the market where I live seems to be doing well, so I have a new gig to walk into next week.


I was laid off from a CTO role in 2016. I was only at the company for 9 months but the President who hired me was let go by the board and myself and a few others were let go shortly after by the new President. I landed my next full-time job in the same industry a year later as a VP but between that I struggled a bit & even contracted as a developer working on a ReactJS web app.

I still have the CTO role on the front page of my resume but I can't help but think prospective employers shy away from me assuming my short-lived C-level role ended by termination even though it says "downsized".


It's so interesting that people get hired on account of the organizations and jobs they've held in the past, instead of strictly based on current skill. It sounds like those things should roughly line up, but from my experience they often don't. Makes for a high-friction and vaguely irrational recruiting process.


> I can't help but think prospective employers shy away from me assuming my short-lived C-level role ended by termination

I understand that if they're not enthusiastic about the rest of your resume in the first place, they might not bother checking your references, but generally, isn't that why one provides references? So the prospective employer can check your story?

Or perhaps ask for a letter of recommendation (though it's probably a bit too late for that now, I'm just thinking of the general case)? Not sure if that is a thing for C-level jobs.


yeah, I'd think of removing that. It just looks bad. No one can tell if you are lying about it.


I agree. A resume is not supposed to be so much a confessional as a brag sheet. If you are not proud of it, consider removing it. But be sure you have a cover story for the interview. e.g. "it was a job where so much went wrong. I learned a lot from it, like what I do and don't want to do, and that is definitely something I do not want to do again." Safe statements whose accuracy can easily be defended.


Yeah, a recruiter actually told me to add "downsized" but I see your point too.


removing what? the entire CTO position? or just the bullet point that said it was due to downsizing?


both things. cto is great, but you'll have to spend a lot of effort to explain your side of it and that you weren't removed by cause. if someone ever brings it up, then you explain, and say that you weren't hiding it, you were wanting to avoid wasting time on a confusing situation and you are happy to discuss it.


The conundrum I have with this is not just removing it from my personal resume but also from LinkedIn. In my experience, recruiters and companies pay for the premium version of LinkedIn so they can see my entire profile even though I limit viewing to just my connections. I would like to keep the CTO role on my LinkedIn because I have connections, colleagues endorsing my skillsets and recommendations from the former President and a VP.

If there is a discrepancy between a personal resume and LinkedIn, then that ends up being a "red flag" in the eyes of recruiters and HR.


Been laid off three times with the same company. Joined right when they started a decade long downsize process. Lay offs, 1.5 years of getting used to the new structure, then another set of lay offs. Leaving the company meant starting my green card process over again, so I got rehired each time.

First time? Panic. Third time? Meh.

You realize it’s not personal at all. Some consultants make some recommendation treating thousands of people as just numbers.

Realized that layoffs REALLY mess up a company’s productivity. Even if you weren’t cut, you start to think “fuck this company”.

In the long run it completely eliminated any loyalty to my employer. It’s just business. If something better comes along, I wouldn’t hesitate to leave.


TLDR - Best layoff ever.

During the .com boom I was with a start-up with a good idea but the realities of the internet at the time where just not there, and they whole concept relied on the start-up getting enough capital to burn and build until broadband had saturated the market.

At one point they are trying to sell another round to investors, and it's not looking good, so the CEO walks in with another gentlemen that none of us know, he was from another company who needed development talent and the CEO basically told us, that as of today we need to reduce our burn by 20%. That leadership had went over, and over who they could cut but really could not put together a plan, so he invited other tech leaders from the area to pitch their companies and what they where doing to recruit from his.

So this guys pitches his company and says I know what you guys are doing here, and I know you are all good developers, you can walk out the door with me today and into a new job. Some of you have to go, so I am offering you a path out. A handful took the deal, I stuck around and got to see first hand a company die for the first time.

When we where about to shutter the doors the CEO did the same thing, brought in another exec to recruit us, I left and took that deal that time.

Each time the CEO said to us, that he did not want to loose us but he also wanted to be remember as the CEO that you would quit your job and come work for him again, if he ever called. That us landing on our feet was important to him and therefor he wants what is best for us and him. He said companies come and go, but honor and integrity are very hard to get back once you loose them. It may have helped that he was former special forces Delta Force. To this day I would work for that gentlemen in a heart beat if the phone rang.


I wasn't laid off, but I have been fired before. It was the best thing to ever happen to me -- I got time to work on my passion, programming, broke into the industry and got out of a job I knew I hated a month in. It lead me down a path were I got to work for companies on the global 500, and fortune 100 list, as well as a ycombinator startup.

That said, not everyone is so lucky and I definitely struggled during the unemployment phase.


Early in my career, right after the first dot-com bust, there was a large downsizing of practically the entire staff; it wasn't a big place but I want to say at least half of the company was let go.

I was young, moved into a friend's place and paid cheap rent for about 6 months and collected unemployment. Then ended up getting hired back right before the startup was acquired.


Very similar experience; after unemployment I took a job with a sociopath for six months, then went back to school for C.S. (I had a humanities B.A.). Lessons:

1. Human toll of layoffs can be extremely high (up to and including death) and hard to see.

2. Many coders are much more re-hirable than most non-coders, but many aren't.

3. In resilient labor markets such as modern SaaS and app coding, there is an experience<->hirability S-curve. Going from 0 to 1 year of saleable experience depends on the employer, from 1 to 3 years power shifts slowly towards labor, and after that you are in control. (These statements obviously don't apply to all software labor markets.)

4. Many coders get stuck in bad labor niches, many are really lousy at the sub-skill of getting a job, many don't realize how salable their skills are, and many can't tell which of those possibilities applies to them.


I'd just like to add a caveat to point #3 that it is based on the last 10 years of low unemployment and high growth in the tech sector. Things probably will change one day. Who knows in a few years you might be competing for a "bad" mid-level position with 50 ex Googlers for half the pay.


Completely agree. Just think that day is far off for some programming labor markets in which HN readers sell their skills.


Yep, from my second job out of uni at a well-known agency. I was told my phone while on holiday, and when I returned the next Monday we were told that we may as well go home for that day since there wasn't anything left to do.

Thankfully, one of the agencies we sub-contracted to took our clients on, and offered to take us on for our remaining month of redundancy, so on Tuesday I was in a new office. Sadly, only one of us was offered a job, and it was me, but the rest of my work mates managed to find jobs to start at the end of redundancy.

That month sucked. I had gone from what I perceived to be a wildly successful, award-winning company to uncertainty at a shitty agency. I spent nearly four years at that agency, and worked on a number of fantastic projects - some of which I still talk about now. In all honesty, being made redundant was one of the best things to happen to me.


I was laid off last week :-). Got a nice little payoff, spending a few months finishing a side project I was working on. I'll probably go back to free lancing, I have been for years, I went staff as a bit of an experiment - there is no difference between it and contracting, everything people say to lure you into a staff position is nonsense, just a way to save pennies.

Edit: I started there as a contractor, then went staff after a break in between, little annoyed by it, but oh well. A couple of people I've known for years - hard times they say, losing customers etc, no more development, yada, yada. They're moving everything into support, hoping that will stem the tide, hope it works for them, time will tell.


Kind of affected. Worked on hpcloud till the project got killed. EU with better employee protection kept people on a skeleton crew as far as I understand, and others got fired. Corp offered some materials around looking for other teams that would want you, but I was over working for corp already.

Got a good redundancy pay which covered more than the time needed to find a few job, so effectively they gave me extra money. The change was obviously coming - the team's manager moved to another company and the position was not advertised for many months after.

Not sure if it affected me that much otherwise. I was happy to see a change at that point.


Yes, happened to me about 6 years ago. I'm a software engineer. My daughter was about a year old then, wife had left her job because we'd moved cities and later to care for our daughter. I had a car loan and home mortgage. It was devastating and a blow to my self esteem, frankly. Took me about 2 months and a lot of sleepless nights to figure out what I wanted to do in life. I had savings to last about 10 months but that was it and my wife also wasn't finding anything since she'd basically been out of the work force for almost 2 years by then. Thankfully, a lot of stars aligned and a former boss who was starting up hired me. The first thing I did was pay up my car loan and home mortgage by selling another property we had (sold it for lesser than I wanted to, but I was done managing assets that weren't really bringing me enough). The next was building up finances. My wife eventually found a job and the last 6 years have basically been about saving money. I have around 70% of my retirement goal now and pretty happy about it. I've learnt that my job (and employer) are a means to an end. It's not my life. A job is a contract. One works for the man, and gets paid in return. That's all there is to it. My eventual aim is to leave a regular job in 4-5 years if all goes well, and work on something that interests me more.

PS: My manager sold the startup last year to a big corp and I have a bit of Stocks/RSUs from that so that'll also help in the retirement goal of 4 years.


I took voluntarily redundancy 15 years ago & got an ok payout. The company that let me go paid me handsomely at a contract rate for many years after

Laws are different to America though. In the UK you’ll get a bit of cash & they have to give you notice. France basically have to give you a few years wages to get rid of you. I guess America essentially is a zero hours contract, because you don’t get any compensation if there are redundancies?


In the US, you are legally obliged to nothing more than the right to quit freely, and the right to be fired freely.

Though ‘Severance Packages’ are very common for skilled/high-salaried employees, where you receive a payout of x weeks or months, negotiable but usually based on length of employment. This is done in part so the employer does not get a bad reputation in the market for skilled/high-salary talent. For a startup, let’s say that maybe 1-2 months of ‘severance’ would be perceived as Very Generous to its Employees.


That seems odd. I worked at a pretty bad (in terms of salary, working conditions) large tech firm and got 6 weeks severance.


The key phrase is “perceived as being generous” by doing so. All the better if the firm’s reputation would be poor otherwise. Nothing keeps a Glassdoor profile cleaner than paying departing employees well, attached to a gag-rule barring them from disparaging comments.


This is my worst nightmare.

-Just as I was finishing college, my father, who only had a high school education, worked for GTE Sylvania for 25+ years. The company was sold, then closed the small plant he worked at. The best he could find after that was stockroom work at a department store. That triggered depression in him and a big rift in my parent's marriage.

-20 years ago my brother worked for Xerox, and was laid off/downsized. He and his wife had a third child on the way, had just built a house. It took him a year to find a job as IT support for a law firm. That traumatized him so much he's overworked for the company ever since.

-I worked for Kodak for many years. The last 2 years I worked there in the early 2000's, my department was under constant layoff threat. At that point, I'd decided I was moving out of NY, and wanted the severance package (but didn't get it)

-After moving to WI, 9 months into my new job there, our department had a round of layoffs. I was terrified since I was the last hired, and now was hundreds of miles from my support network. I survived, and went on to work there for 10 more years.

-My partner, after working for a financial services company for 26 years, got a boss who didn't like him, and frankly I think did not like LGBTQ folks, and maneuvered him into being a "displaced worker". He got let go, 5 years before his pension and years of service would have put him in a place to be able to comfortably retire.

So I haven't ever been laid off, but I have seen how much damage it can do to people I care about and their futures.

I worry about this every day, especially seeing what happened to my dad and my partner. I have been saving for retirement, but I really need the next 5-10 years to let that build to be able to comfortably retire.


2 years ago this week, I was laid off by HPE. It was my first job out of college. I was employed there for almost 2 years. I didn't particularly like the work or the environment, but I wanted to pad out my resume. When I got the news, via a phone call with the boss of my boss, I was not surprised but my thoughts about the future started to spiral.

Thankfully, being young, and very determined, I spent my final two weeks of employment at HPE looking for work. I had 3 interviews lined up within the first few days. I was technically unemployed for 3 weeks, and had 2 job offers and accepted one at the end of those 3 weeks.

I was extremely lucky to be offered a severance package, got my PTO paid out, and then landed a much better job so quickly. I had planned to leave HPE in the spring, but being laid off gave me the kick start I needed to find something that fit my needs better. I am forever thankful for being let go, and don't miss a minute of working for that mess of a company.


I entered the workforce full-time in 2007 so, yes. At my first company I was a Jr. Developer on a doomed project and was let got after my probation period of 3( or 4?) months. The rest of the team was let go a few months later. I had just moved out of my parents place so making rent was pretty stressful. Thankfully the market hadn't crashed yet so hiring was decent in my area.

At the end of my next job 1.5 years later. The financial crisis was in full-swing. We had a few rounds of layoffs, which was a scary and depressing experience. Compared to my first layoffs where it was just a quick matter-of-fact meeting with my manager, this time layoffs were announced and then we were left to stew about it for weeks. Our team made it for a few more months of uncertainty until the investors pulled out and the whole company went down immediately.

I have not had experiences like that since 2008-2009. With the next recession, I and many others who have actually worked their whole careers in a bull market will get a taste of some pain again.


The startup I worked for laid off 30% of their workforce, and I was among those cut. That was 3 years ago. 113 job interviews later, and i'm only just getting things back together with freelance work.


I was and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I got 3 months severance, used it to start a consulting business, and now make 3x what I did for less work.


I worked in startups for the first 10 years of my career. For a while, I was laid off every christmas. The first time, I freaked out pretty hard, but I found a job within a week of coming back from New Year's. Complete that cycle four or five times and you get used to it.


Why?


Why what?


Why the constant layoffs?


They were all early to mid-stage silicon valley startups. For whatever reason, funding runways typically ran out between October and December. If you can't close your next round of funding by then, you run out of money and the whole company minus the founders gets laid off.

As for why so many startup duds that all failed in under one year? I was young and didn't know what the hell I was doing. I chose my jobs based on how cool I thought the product was rather than how viable the product would be in the marketplace.


Thanks for replying. I'm not really in the industry so it's always interesting to hear about how things work on the inside.


Laid off from my first full-time job! Started at RIM/Blackberry in Jan 2012 in the BB OS group working on BB10. Was laid off in March 2013.

Got 10 weeks of severance so I was funemployed for most of the rest of that year.

Did some freelancing, projects, and went on a month-long backpacking trip.


Full disclosure: was making CAD 70k/year at RIM and my next full time job started around Nov 2013 for GBP 41k/year (and by March 2014 visa stuff was settled and I’d moved to London).


I also moved from Ontario to London in the same year. What was the job you went into?


Specialized travel agency called Your Golf Travel.


It happen to me once. Company I worked for was acquired by competitor, our product was not offered to new customer anymore and it was decided to shut down majority of development team. I was quite unfortunate as I had to switch from contractor to full time position that day so no severance package for me and I was told to not come back next day (other devs stayed for next few months doing nothing).

It was early in my career, I had no obligation and I was thinking about moving to London anyway. So I took it as a sign, returned back to my office, book a flight for next week, said good bye and left.

Being young and having valuable skillset it never felt like some bad event. It was sad to say good bye, but hey there are tons of challenges out there.


During Great Recession, I lived in a rural area with a small town and big one nearby. I had 3 roommates. Everyone except me (union job) got laid off.

Everyone in area were competing for few jobs available. Most new jobs were openings like restaurants often followed with cuts when they stabilized. Other businesses were hiring followed by reversal from top bosses to lay people off. We had like 10 or 11 layoffs in my household over several months. Ended up losing the place and my credit trying to keep us off the streets long enough to find new roommates or family help.

Good news is I just finally built it back up to point that I got some rewards cards a few months ago. It just took a heck of a long time. :)


I mostly work at small startups, so I get laid off every few years.

First time was a huge traumatic shock, but the 4-5 times after that, I was prepared and mostly saw it as unplanned vacation.

My trick to being cool about it is to always have 1+ years of saving in the bank.


Thanks for sharing your personal experiences. and being positive about it


I have been laid off a few times. Almost universally, it was in preparation of an acquisition (purchase of the company or the company's imminent purchase of another) wherein the standards and goals of the development teams were universally put into question. 35 engineers and another company it was 10 (me inclusive in each). It didn't affect me much as I have no loyalty to a specific company (even if I have vested equity) and have never lived in an area where work was scarce. I keep my skills fresh and develop new skills (side development is a must) and assume my job/project is not forever. I speak to this from time to time everywhere I go.


Been laid off a few times. Mostly businesses run out of money and the IT department are first to go. You can run a business on old IT with an old website, no need for those pesky webdevs.

Moved from code monkey to lecturer. More stress. More fun.

Side note: people thse days who take quallifications in Comp Sci very rarely have a side project (coding) or take any time out of school to code. Most are extremely surprised to hear that it's my hobby to code, you know, just for fun. They couldn't imagine wanting to do it for fun. It's sad. But it says more about how we educate and test people, rather than their attitude towards programming.


Happened to me a couple of times early in my career and both times were totally unfair but they were very good experiences in terms of building my character.

Companies can be completely irrational. You should never depend on any entity for your survival.

I think the growth of corporations is extremely unhealthy and should be illegal because it forces massive amounts of people to depend on a few entities for their livelihoods. This dependency gives corporations power which allows them to corrupt governments and to continue this cycle of increasing exploitation of employees and manipulation of governments.


I was laid off once when the small company I worked for spent too many resources suing companies violating their patent and ended up running out of money.

It was a blessing in disguise. I started my decade long career of remote work after this and tripled my salary as a result.

I often take year long/project based contracts and need to find new work every year or so. It got me used to selling my self and going through the interview process, and I now am not as devastated when I need to find new work.


I have been laid off 4 times over the course of my career. And to tell the truth, it has been the best of times.

Each time it galvanised me into action to further my portfolio of skills. As a software developer for the majority of my life, it showed me how much the landscape has changed over the years. You have to keep on learning new things, languages, products, just to stay on top of everything. Each time I was laid off I spent a few weeks learning new tools and languages ready for the next stage of my career.

Mind you, the last time I was laid off I only spent a week "unemployed" waiting for my next job to start. At a certain point you learn so much that you can adapt on the fly and my current employer saw that I had a shed load of skills that the fought off other companies who wanted me.

On another plus side, each time I got laid off I was paid a handsome tax-free payoff. I now have no debt (not even a mortgage) and have enough savings that I could retire now. Mind you, I only have a few years to go before it's my official retirement age.

Getting laid off is not the bad thing many people see it as. See it as a change for the better. It's gives you a new focus and purpose, and hopefully it's better for your wallet too.


HQ in Paris killed the Singapore branch because the company was not making money. I was given 1.5 months of notice, which seemed like plenty of time. There wasn't much drama to it that was intrinsic to the situation. I would have really liked a remote job at the time, so I tried a couple of the ones listed on HN's "Who's Hiring" thread, but didn't get any offers. With a week left before I was officially unemployed, I then interviewed with a startup and PayPal. The startup was ready to move forward, so I asked if PayPal was going to give me an offer as well. They said yes, so I rejected the startup's offer because I wanted to work somewhere where there was scale. Unfortunately, PayPal then experienced a management change, followed by a hiring freeze, after which the guys who assured me an offer was forthcoming, to their credit, continued to try to get me that offer. I waited because I trusted them but they were ultimately unsuccessful, which resulted in me being unemployed for about 2 months. I eventually got a job with another startup. I guess the moral of my story is that an offer is not an offer until you get your first paycheck?


Where do appointment letters fit in here?


I’ve been laid off. It’s normally big successful companies and or failing companies that lays people off.

The project that you are in matters.

People stuck in maintenance mode normally are safe; whereas devs in some greenfield projects may find themselves seeking a new team/project when management decides to cancel or go a different route for the project. Worst, if a project manager doesn’t like you.

I’ve luck with mid/smaller companies as both a contractor/fte.

Projects are more dynamic and long term.


My wife and I have experienced three layoffs between us, two of them after the 2008 financial crash. We used to lean left but were not at all politically involved. We had comfortable positions with cushy benefits. After getting laid off the positions we found paid less and did not include benefits. This experience really opened our eyes to what life is like for average working people in this country.

We both have personal connections to Asian countries that have socialized medicine, but here in the supposedly advanced U.S. we were only able to get insurance because of Obamacare, and that insurance is so expensive and has such a high deductable that we may as well have been pouring our money down a toilet. Things are better now but the feeling doesn't go away.

These experiences radicalized us. They made us really cynical about our capitalist system and receptive to the voices of progressives like Bernie Sanders and movements like Occupy. It's made us really have sympathy with the concerns of poor and marginalized and working people.


I find it very interesting that I can digest the same information and come to the exact opposite conclusion. Our medicine system has been socialized. If you can't afford to pay, the cost is pushed onto the rest of the population that can. The free market had health care costs 10x lower than they are now, so low that the entirety of an average person's health fees with only catastrophic insurance would now be lower than their monthly premium. Our economic system has socialized, more communized. It is impossible to save capital because the purchasing power of your capital is devalued at an exponential rate, taken and redistributed to those at the tippy top. To call off the nonsense would be to move right.


In sane countries like Japan and Taiwan, the entire working population pays into social insurance, from the time they start working until they retire, no exceptions. Even foreigners pay into the system if they work there. The government negotiates as a single payer, which keeps the cost of medications and other supplies down. Doctors' offices and hospitals are private entities but they get to work with a single insurance provider instead of the craziness of our system (my mom was a medical provider so I've heard her horror stories of dealing with insurance companies). The system spends less per capita than we do and they have better medical outcomes as a society. I call that a win.


Got laid off in March. Spent all summer on holiday doing what I wanted (which was mostly just fucking around in a few different countries and doing nothing related to technology). I got laid off in 2008 as well which was a very different story and was the reason I went to university.

Depending upon where you are in your life it can be liberating or a death sentence and anywhere in between.


I was one of the few remaining people in a startup that employed close to 200 people at its peak. This was during the dot com bust and we faced customers cancelling orders and weren't able to raise any money or find any other way to continue. This wasn't a pets.com story (we weren't an Internet company) and we had a pretty good product with a great outlook 6 months earlier. We had a couple of waves of letting people go while trying to re-focus and somehow survive.

It wasn't great but the writing was on the wall. Those of us that stayed knew it was a long shot. I (and everyone else) got severance pay and I also had an exciting new job lined up by the time we officially closed through contacts I made while working in this startup. Pretty much everyone who worked there did OK as far as I know (some people from later waves went to places people from earlier waves went to...).


It happened to me. My employer was in Ad network business and gradually it went out of business (mainly due to Ads business is consolidating with big 4) and filed chapter 10 bankruptcy. We all were let go. Miss my team sometime. We had a great time working together


I wouldn't call it a "lay off", but I have been "let go" from one company, "fired" from one company and "quit" two companies.

Overall I am glad. I was overworked when I was "let go" after 4 years of working in the start up, because the company was going into a growth phase and the CEO didn't feel I would be up for it. Rightly so-- I called bullshit on the Silicon Valley cult of overwork many times.

I was "fired" from one company because I called the CEO out on his shit and told him to shove it up his ass. I then created my own version of their product and have been running my own company ever since. So thanks for firing me.


I've been working in industry since '97... and I've dodged so many layoffs. That doesn't mean I wasn't impacted, though. There's always at least as much work to be done, and fewer people to do it, and a a lot of people get super stressed out and hard to work with (or work for... this is especially bad with management. Working for someone who is afraid of getting fired is miserable.) Usually, there's a lot more work 'cause the boss expects me to figure out how to make the systems work just as well without spending as much money on them.

Several times, I've quit after the layoffs because work became a lot more stressful. At least once, I quit without another job lined up, just 'cause it was too much. (In my defense, I was like 21, I was the only technical person who hadn't been laid off (or left for greener pastures) and my boss, I think, was driven insane by the stress of keeping things going during the brutal dot-com bust. It was not a situation a reasonable person would expect a child to be able to deal with.)

In a lot of ways, I think the people in the first round of layoffs have it best; that's when the severance packages are sweetest, and in my experience, after the first round of layoffs, the people who have the best options (which aren't necessarily the best people at doing the job? but there is some correlation) jump ship, and that makes things harder, too, just 'cause you have lost all the people management thinks are the worst, and all the people that management (at other companies) thinks are the best, and you have to then do the job with just those in the middle. (the downside, of course, to being in the first wave is that it's a lot easier to get a new job while you have a job, vs getting that new job right after you got laid off.)

My own personal rule is that when the first layoff hits, start looking hard. I mean, if it's an industry-wide downturn and you happen to be at a company that is well-placed to weather it better than most, maybe you stay? but usually the best thing to do after dodging a layoff is to find another job at another company, one that isn't in as much trouble.


My entire career as been driven, almost exclusively, by layoffs. I had been at my first job for about a year and was starting to think about moving on when my manager (who I think knew I was looking) told me that they were going to have to lay off a developer, and if I had an offer they'd rather I take it, otherwise they were going to have to let my co-worker go.

I took the new job and moved cities to work at a startup for about 18 months. When I was laid off there, the CEO was very transparent about the reasons for it: they decided to get rid of full time staff and focus on contractors who were on work visas, because the threat of losing their visa meant they were easier to abuse.

I was out of work for about a month then before starting a new job that again lasted for about 18 months. The company was looking to sell off our business unit and laid everyone off except for me and my manager. Not seeing a lot of hope for the future and not wanting to be a sole developer keeping a product limping along, I left for a year.

The next job was doing funded research. I went in knowing that my job depending on getting funding, and lasted a year before the funding ran out. I was out of work for a few weeks before going back to my old team, which over the last year had been successfully sold off to a new company, which had brought back a few of my co-workers.

I stayed at that job for another 4.5 years as the technical lead, until the product was once again getting sold and management wanted to make the numbers look better. This time I was the salary that was cut to improve the numbers.

After a contract-to-hire role that didn't work out due to "bad cultural fit", I landed at another startup for about 16 more months. Due to my previous history of layoffs and wanting something more stable I left when I could see that we were starting to run out of runway and didn't have good prospects for another cash infusion.

From that job I joined a mid-sized tech company doing unexciting work, but after a rocky few years I really wanted something more stable. I was there for 18 months before most of engineering was laid off when the company decided to focus more on supporting other companies products.

This time I was out of work for just a few weeks, and found a great role. I've joined an even larger company, and one that has been doing well, but the long history of layoffs has left me constantly hyper-aware of the lack of stability in our industry, and I'm actively going through therapy to help get over the constant fear that any small hiccup or misstep means that I'm getting fired or that my team is going to be laid off.

Although I've always bounced back quickly, and certainly my salary and experience have been benefited by the quickly changing jobs, the psychological toll is very high.


The industry is full of bust and boom. People see high tech as a gold rush and are often in it to make as much money as quickly as possible. Layoffs are inevitable in that situation. I've been through a few layoff rounds myself (though not always chosen to be the one laid off). One thing I did really helped me, though. The last time I got laid off, I intentionally took 6 months off. I got a job offer within weeks, but I decided to turn it down and just spend some time for me (well, I spent it writing free software ;-) ).

It's a bit risky because the first question you get when doing subsequent interviews is "Why have you been out of work so long?" I'd tell them I took time off and showed them the code I was working on. There would be some raised eyebrows, but to be honest, I think this actually helped filter out some companies that I really didn't want to work for. Indeed, had I took the initial job offer I received, I would have been out on the street again in 18 months (they laid everyone off...)

For me, anyway, this gave me a better sense of control at the expense of using up some of my retirement savings. Subsequently, I have had some management try to put the screws to me. It is freeing to be able to remind them (and myself!) that I'm only there because I choose to be.

I don't know if any of that will be useful to you, but I hope so.


I've never been in a position where I could financially justify being out of work for 6 months. Even if I theoretically have the savings to do it, growing up poor and intermittently homeless I just can't fathom the idea of spending that savings to live on when I could otherwise be working. When I've been laid off I treat getting my next job as my full time job, and I will spend 8-10 hours a day, seven days a week, either interviewing, networking, or researching companies I might like to work for.

Most recently I took about 6 weeks off between accepting my new job and actually starting it, and even that was extremely stressful on me. I spent most of it being certain that something bad was going to happen and I'd show up on my first day to find out that the job had evaporated.

Ultimately, I think people have different risk tolerances and dispositions for how they handle being out of work- but for everyone who's not independently wealthy it's going to be stressful. When your ability to survive is fully dependent on working, the knowledge of how capriciously it can be removed can be terrifying.


Does anyone have experience in regards to inventor clauses / agreements? It was at the last two jobs I had, which seems to say I sign away all new inventions during employment including those made with my own personal time, equipment, etc.


My first job out of college I worked through a contracting company. The pay was decent but I didn't get any of the benefits. The company I worked for got a lot of their revenue from the oil industry, and three years after I started oil took a huge hit and they laid off all of their contractors.

I had a rough few months where I didn't have much luck finding a new job, but in the end it worked out. I eventually got a full time position with better pay, better benefits, and I'm still there.


What kind of project can you build around a layoff? Is your company planning to have layoffs and you are trying to see how to make it least painful (for company or victim)?


Happened just this year, was informed in a Wednesday, had an interview for my new job on friday and the acceptance the next Wednesday. Overall the total time I didn't know where I was going was about 1 week + the 2 weeks or so it took to negotiate the contract and get it in my hands.

It was ok, got decent severance and ultimately I'm quite happy to have moved on to greener pastures


Just a large chunk of my coworkers at Apollo. I was never laid off or anything and I've worked in software engineering for 13 years now.


I've never been laid-off, but back in the early 2000s when the internet bubble popped our company was going to have to lay off some people. They instead opted to let us decide whether to lay off some people or for everyone to take a 20% pay cut. We opted for the latter. So while no one was laid-off, I was impacted by a possible layoff.


I got a buy out offer about 14 months ago, fantastic offer and I was planning on leaving to pursue my own business anyways. It's turned out great; the buy out gave me a years runway to not have to worry about income so much, meanwhile I was able to pursue my own product. Making more now than I did before the buy out.


Worked for a small design company and one day everyone but me and the office manager was laid off.

It was pretty weird and despite reassurances from the partners, I took it as a hint that it wasn't the most stable of jobs.

Started looking right away and found a more stable dev position within a few months.


Yep, close to half my company was laid off at the beginning of the summer. It was hard, it had been clear the company didn’t have the revenue to keep running but we were constantly assured the current round of funding would close. Then it didn’t and a lot of us were gone


Yes I was laid off from a startup. A bit of a shock and of course health insurance in the united states is a bit wonky but I mean its their prerogative to let people go. I found another better paying job from people who actually had money


I've been laid off multiple times, and am facing it again due to a M&A.

I've worked very hard to synthesize the situation and understand that it wasn't anything I did, just that it was a matter of circumstance.


If you work in tech startups or video games layoffs are just another part of the employment cycle.


I was. The company went bust. Found another job within a couple of months.

Do you have any specific questions?


Never been touched by a layoff, but I've had one employer go bankrupt and she's had two. We've also both bailed once from an obviously sinking ship.


4x


Here's the short list:

Round 1: Dot.com era - 4 years out of college, out of work for 6 months along with a lot of the industry on the West coast of the US. Depressed as hell, never thought I'd work as a programmer again. In desperation, I take a sub-contracting 1099 job and get my 1st taste of consulting rates. I bank over 1/2 of my income planning for the job to end.

Round 2: Consulting job ends, but I've learned to PLAN for layoffs to happen in this line of work. Only searching for about 3-4 weeks as job marked has significantly picked up. Landed 1st start-up job at what became "psychotic start-up from hell".

Round 3: Fast forward a few years - best job I ever had, but the small company decided to use US employment law to shaft me & 4 others who had made millions in profit for them to lay of off with hardly any severance & zero warning after tricking us into TRAINING our replacements from an outsourcing firm in Ukraine (spoiler alert - everything is great at company financially: they just wanted to look BETTER on the books to get acquired). Bastards then had the nerve to call us back 6 months and ask if we'd come back (gee.. I wonder why...). The good news? I'm only unemployed for 72 hours - yes. 72 clock hours on the wall. Former colleague recommends me to a bigger, more professional consulting org that has a job my personal and professional experience is tailored for. Lunch WAS the interview w/ the director of development & development consulting. I sign the offer letter on the new job 45 min after signing the severance paperwork on the old job.

Round 4: I was asked to join a fantastic later stage startup with a bunch of very energetic & inspiring people. Then, there was a political coup where the CEO was thrown out of power and so, who got to go with him? Why the 3 newest technical staff hires + one bystander all in the name of cutting start-up burn rate. This one has ended up happy though, since the new CEO in power felt a little guilt for axing us he put 3 of us in touch with another start-up. 6 business days later for me, I've got a job again (same pay, better benefits, more "stability") and 1 of my other 2 friends also pursued & accepted an offer.

All of this was over the course of 20+ years as a developer. Not as a "team lead", not with any "management" or "architect" experience. Just a work-a-day mid to senior developer who likes to build & ship software. What I've learned from this:

Lesson 1: Never EVER let your skills slack. Keep learning new things, or hang up your keyboard and go sit in meetings (e.g. management, product, whatever). Note: If you're going to do this, it's fucking hard as hell to try and go back. It's also a completely different skill set to do it well as say, a development manager or a technical product owner.

Lesson 2: Keep networking & going to meet-ups and conferences. This helps keep your skills sharp and you inspired to keep learning.

Lesson 3: Lesson 1 + 2 does equal 3 - That is: "You will reach a point where not so much 'what' you know as 'who' you know will lead to your next big jobs and/or big opportunities". Don't burn bridges, as tempting as it may be.




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