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Ask HN: Software developers, What happened when you were fired/laid off?
72 points by thro1237 on May 26, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 86 comments
I am sure many of us would like to know about what happens when you lose a software job. Is it easy to find another job? How long did you stay unemployed? What technologies were you using when you were fired? Did you have to learn new stuff to get hired again? When did this happen? Dot Com burst? 2008? Would like to hear from experienced devs.



Back in 2008-9 I worked as a PHP developer for a small startup and at the end of my first year we had worked through our whole roadmap and there wasn't anything interesting on the horizon. The economy was pretty bad so sales were taking a hit in that market (helping people get into business school). I was planning to quit and I already had my next job lined up to start in 3 weeks (I planned to give 2 weeks notice, then take a 1 week vacation before starting the new job). The new job was also as a PHP developer at a bigger company.

On Friday I told my boss (VP of operations) that I was planning to resign, and he told me to hold on to my resignation letter until Monday, and act surprised when the founders called me in to lay me off. I probably laid it on a little thick by telling them it was the greatest opportunity of my career to be able to work with such visionaries. I complemented my boss on the great job he was doing and that I understood the need to tighten the purse strings in a tough economy. I was given the choice to be laid off and collect unemployment, or to sign a resignation letter and receive a 6 week severance (I chose the latter).


> I was given the choice to be laid off and collect unemployment, or to sign a resignation letter and receive a 6 week severance (I chose the latter).

Wow, that is some awesome game theory right there. Basically you had to guess whether you'd be on unemployment long enough to make more money that way or through severance. Kinda sucks that they didn't let you do both though. After you leave unemployment costs them nothing (they already paid into it).


Unemployment sometimes costs the company more after employee's leave. If you haven't paid in enough, they increase the amounts you pay in.


The severance made the most sense because I already had a new job lined up to start in a few weeks.


I meant for your coworkers. :) For you the choice was obvious.


Recent years were a little different, because of the unemployment extensions, but I think that in most of the US, you'll earn substantially less than 50% of a programmer's salary on unemployment, possibly even less than 25% (http://www.savingtoinvest.com/2015-vs-2014-maximum-weekly-un...). Combined with a maximum time of 24 weeks, and I think severance wins out.


I had this exact same thing happen to me in 2001.

I had saved up to spend half a year traveling around the world. I gave my boss the heads up a couple months in advance, he told me to keep quiet for a few days, and next thing you know I was out the door with a couple months to spend on a surfing roadtrip before hopping that flight, and enough funds to cover it.

Everybody wins, especially the CTO who had to ruin one less developer's day.


So it sounds like the founders had already told your boss that he needs to reduce headcount, and you solved the problem for him, and also enabled him to do you a favor. Nice!


When I was 30 I worked for one of the largest media companies in the world (household name globally). I was struggling with alcoholism throughout my tenure there and finally decided to get help and turn things around (it was really deep depression underneath). I did that and worked for about a year with things going very well, however I had a relapse and in that process it led to me ultimately getting fired. It was a huge crush to my ego and at the time I thought that was it, I was screwed.

Fast forward a year (sober!) and I am the lead developer at a startup making 50% more than I did there and starting my own venture on the side with two very solid co-founders.

The moral of my story is never give up, life isn't always easy and sometimes you have to really hit low points to find reasons to change. Things will ALWAYS get better with jobs and with life. Always have faith in yourself and know that others have struggled and made it through.

Technology wise, the core language I use (python) was highly transferrable but I had been using for instance backbone.js in a large SPA. My current role uses ember.js and I had to learn that on the fly (just like I had learned backbone on the fly). Always just take what you learned and the process for how you learned it and communicate that you can do the same if needed in a new role.

Cheers.


I was fired for not moving back to the USA. I was lucky enough to turn that to my advantage.

In 2012, I was living/working remotely in Ukraine (still am) as a single support dev, having worked for the same company since 2003. Around the time of my annual review, the founders asked me to move back to their main office in Massachusetts. I didn't see this as a serious enough offer, however, because despite the facts that a) moving is a pain in the ass, and b) my wife would have to go through the US immigration process, the founders weren't forthcoming with any offers to offset this process like a raise, moving allowance, etc. It was pretty much a 'move and take all the costs on yourself' message.

I visited them in the USA in April and again they said 'we really need you in the States' and I asked about what kind of support we'd get, and got a 'hmm, good point, we'll get back to you' response. Come mid-May, I was fired over the telephone.

The insult to injury came with the 2-week severance package which required me to sign a 3-year NDA. The founders assured me this was a 'standard practice'.

I passed on that, because I was able to line up a consulting gig right away, and later that year I was able to get hired by their competitor, to not only develop the same product but to recruit and train a team of Ukrainian developers to build the product. So now, I'm a Senior Manager where I was a Senior Support Dev before.

Pro-tip for founders: be up-front about the package you are offering when you want someone to move across the ocean for your company. Also, good idea to not be cheap about the severance package to employees who have been with you the longest and know the most about your core product.


I'm just a little over thirty, and I've done mostly early-stage startups. In most cases, I was able to get a job pretty quickly. In my first and last firing/lay-off, and I got a job in two to three months. The longest I've been job searching was half a year, and that was because I very badly wanted a particular role.

Over the years, I noticed some trends that really bothered me a little.

1. People don't actually want to see real ambition, most of the time. If you really want a particular role, they will test you harder. It is better to get good at what you want to do, and then act as if it were nice to get to do it.

2. "Age" seems to matter. Just by doing my appearances differently to affect that variable, I got much more positive interaction in interviews. It was embarrassing. Whatever you have or look like, you have to back up. If you are older, you have to act the part, or really denigrate yourself.


>It was embarrassing...

>...or really denigrate yourself

Can you elaborate about that? What happened?


I would like to know this as well, since I just turned 31...


I was let go less than a week ago and to my great surprise. (I had moved out of state for a full-time gig and it lasted less than a month.)

Before anything else, I'm taking this first week for myself, since I felt like I jumped back into the job search too quickly the last time I was laid off. I've scheduled time for meditation, reflection, and self-care toward that end.

Next week, I plan to start looking in earnest for short-term contract work and project work. I've worked full-time for several years now, and the experience has done little to endear me to it.

Finances willing, I might just go back to school for the computer science education that I never formally obtained.

Your recommendations for for work or further courses of action are appreciated. My strengths are front-end development and Ruby, though I'm always eager to learn a new language or platform. Thanks.


I was working for an early-stage startup during the summer of 2013 as the front-end developer. While I was there, we fired our iOS guy, our backend guy switched to iOS and the company now needed someone with full-stack experience to cover the gap, so I got the axe at the end of my contract.

Personally, I was lucky: it took me a total of 4 days to find another job. I didn't have to retool myself because I had kept up on the latest trends within the scope of my skills, and the job market was heavily in my favor at the time.

While I didn't have to learn new skills, I did learn that external factors beyond my control can affect my continued employment. It has made me more mindful of my surroundings and observant of the business direction.


If your contract was over, were you really fired?


While we could debate terminology and classification over the contract status, I consider it a termination given that A. It was an ongoing work assignment and I had continued to receive new work up until the notice to not renew, and B. I had to go through an off-boarding process.


Nope. As you imply, if the contract is over, it's a mutual parting of ways, not a firing.


In the UK, fired is generally for when an employer dismisses you from employment due to a specific issue (timekeeping, poor performance, caught stealing printers etc.) It is very different to being made redundant, which occurs when the employer believes your role is no longer viable and has become redundant. Most employers here would not have an issue with the latter, but might have concern with the former. In both cases I found employment within three months, in both cases during a job market like the current climate, in both cases the employer in question acted like an arse, but did not make moving on difficult. The redundancy was just a cheap move to offshore our teams jobs to southeast Asia, the firing was related to being told I was not pulling 100 hour weeks like the rest of the suckers there, and I said "damn right".


"Damn right" is exactly the right response to criticism for not pulling 100 hour work weeks. Bravo.

Unless I'm saving babies and kittens or planning a Mars mission, you won't see me spending my entire life in a cubicle.


Yep, I might do 100 hour weeks again if I was working at SpaceX but not for anyone else and no way would SpaceX hire me so it is win/win.


I was laid off in Aug 2009. I negotiated 3 months of continued employment to start and finish a project I knew they would want to do (cost savings measure to move to the cloud). Tech at the time: rails.

I had (part-time contract) work within 15 minutes of leaving the layoff meeting. It pays to network before you need it.

Before my extra 3 months ended, I reached out to the individual investors in the company and asked if they knew if any of their portfolio companies had any work. I ended up taking a contract in February (there were 2 months where I did odd gigs, but was essentially out of work and living off savings - again it pays to plan ahead) that paid way better than I was making before and positionally a better spot. (titles matter too, though less than the work at hand - depending on what you want to be doing)


> Before my extra 3 months ended, I reached out to the individual investors in the company and asked if they knew if any of their portfolio companies had any work.

That's genius. Of course the investors would want the software talent to stay "in their neighborhood", and secondly it helps b/c there's one less disgruntled unemployed ex-employee.


> It pays to network before you need it.

This is very very true. Go to those meetups, have those lunch meetings, do good things for others.

My second favorite action is to send an article I know will be of interest to an acquaintance or former colleague. My favorite thing to action is to introduce a possible employee to an acquaintance or former colleague.


Getting fired from development jobs is about the only subject on which I am an expert. I have been let go from 5 full-time developer positions. There were a lot of different technologies in the jobs I lost and I don't think they had anything to do with it.

I think it was first my need and then tendency to go for the low-end development jobs, usually where the tech is a support role in the company, they don't have great software development management which includes not great hiring practices, they use antiquated technology and have to take whatever developers they can get.

The first danger sign is if there is suddenly a large dropoff in communication between your boss and yourself, and if you feel ostracized from the company/dept. Usually word gets around before you are going to be let go and your teammates often have heard and are distancing themselves.

There is often a "come-to-Jesus" meeting with your boss whereby they give it their best shot to give you a clear last warning--depending on the level of your manager's skill you may not even recognize this as a come-to-Jesus meeting. They may ask if everything is okay and if there is anything they can do to help you get your work done.

The last sign of impending job loss is when they have a sudden need for you to completely document everything you do. Sometimes this will coincide with a company-wide push for the same thing, sometime not.

In my experience it always happens on a Friday. You are called into a meeting whereby you are let go, and if it is a big company you never can log onto your computer again, they escort you out the door with your stuff in a box and you go about your business.

As far as finding new jobs, that has been challenging but not impossible. The average amount of time it took me to find a new job was six months. Sometimes I did work on learning new skills during my time off but mostly I spent my free time worrying. The new job I found often paid significantly more than the job I had just been fired from. If you keep along the low-end I found many companies did not check references and had no kind of coding test.

These situations are never completely clear cut, usually it was mostly my fault but still some their fault. I try not to lie but do kind of start spinning the story into something in my favor and develop a way to tell the story that implies that it was my choice to leave.


I was developing systems sw around PCI Express before some projects were cut, big history short I got an offer to leave with a big $ paycheck to sign a resignation letter.

In the next 2 months, I got and interview with Amazon/Facebook and other names but since my application was for a systems position they didn't follow up, after a while I took a position doing Kernel Drivers but have been trying to go into systems (unix/linux requiring deep kernel stuff), seems like is hard for companies to think an engineer can have skills on both low/hi abstraction layers :(

Maybe being from Latin America didn't help either.


It happened to me once, mainly for doing things like question the work/life balance (expectations were to work 60+ hours per week, no matter who the person was) - fortunately for me, I was prepared with a formal job offer at another company, and the day I was let go, I started at my next company 2 hours later.


damn 2 hours later? that's barely enough time for a nice nap


Back in 2008 when I was one of nearly 500 software developers working in a large investment bank's Houston office, the bank was on lock-down meaning no internal moves to other teams were allowed for about a year. Since I was already bored with the credit risk project I had been on for a long time, I secretly had preliminary talks with the energy trading group and they were interested in bringing me on board as soon as the lock-down lifted, but that could be another half a year or more. In the summer I even got a job offer from an ETRM consulting company but decided not to jump ship since the old-school data-loading scripts they'd have me writing sounded boring. When the financial world went really berserk in late 2008 the lay-offs at the Houston office were very slow and sporadic, so I think they kept those under control to keep people from getting spooked. Then in the first week of January 2009 my manager called me into my office and said they had to let me go: "But we'd like for you to work till the end of the month, and we'll count you as an employee till the end of February, and we'll give you 3 months of severance after that." Such a different experience from my software developer friend at Schlumberger who had been escorted to the door within 20 minutes on the same day I received my notice (although at the bank the dev team never saw production data or got even close to the production servers, so we couldn't be dangerous). I was sooooo glad I hadn't quit in 2008 because I already wanted to leave but being sent away with all that cash was a great bonus to a young single guy like me! Then I felt empowered to join a crazy fun Boston startup that eventually crashed and burned, but that's another story. :)


I was laid off in 2009 - business had declined and as the most-junior developer of three in a company that was almost entirely 1-person departments, I was the natural choice. I was told on a Tuesday, paid for the remainder of that pay period (through to the following Friday so 8 days paid after separation) as well has had my accrued PTO bought back, which was nice as they were not legally required to do so. I had already built my side business up to about 70% of my FTE salary so it was about as painless a transition as possible. I consulted for about 3 years full time after that before going back to an FTE role.

I've also had to fire someone for cause. We make it abundantly clear during the interview phase that we will call every reference, verify all credentials, and all dates of employment as legally allowed. We made an offer to a mid-level developer but it came to our attention that he had lied about dates of employment to cover up a period of unemployment, and stated he had a degree which he did not. Neither of these things would have hindered his ability to get an interview or offer.


not very exciting, but I was relatively new to the company (9 months or so, surrounded by a bunch of veteran employees of 10+ years on average). i had been kicking ass, delivering real value, getting recognition/awards/etc, but spending way more than 40hrs/week and it was costing family time/marital strife (holidays were rough at this employer). Then, as usual, company hires some gunslinger C-levels, and began outsourcing the entire department, and immediately labelled me "redundant". For me, it seemed like a pretty good deal: i was going to get severance and a planned exit several months out, for which i could just pick up another job. mean time, i would just be providing a bit of knowledge transfer. however, my immediate boss found the whole scenario absurd and reached out to a different department to see if he had any openings. long story short, i ended up getting a better offer from the other department (something like 10-15% bump), and a start date a couple weeks out. Once the previous department head got notified, they tried to put the brakes on it (company wanted the ability to "change their mind" if transition wasnt hitting milestones). By then, it was too late.

it was definitely a learning experience.. a few life lessons i took away:

  * networking, even inside your employer is critical to success
  * make sure you are always getting paid your market value
  * never personally sacrifice your career, health, or happiness for free (i would even go so far to say for anything)
  * employers owe you nothing but your wages 
  * dont buy into the "we are family" mantra, culture and leadership can change and leave you unemployed and out of date
  * you owe them nothing more than an honest days work.
  * having a good manager is way more important than whether the company sucks or not.. but remember managers can leave too


I just got laid off as the top developer / architect after 3.5 years of coding on a fairly successful Saas application. I think basically the board forced them to cut me because of my top salary 160K+ pitted against the ever emerging global software workforce. So far it's been 4 months and I haven't even looked for a job. We are in a strange place with overseas developers seeming as the preferred choice. Currently I am focused on joining a consulting company that structures remote teams India with US based lead developers. I am a huge believer in law of attraction and so I believe my future is directly in my own hands. I am starting to need a job to pay the rent so I will do something soon. At this point I am so happy to have had the time off well spent with my 2 kids.


Wow. Where are you located ? Also 160k+ does not seem to be that big.


I was laid off during 2002, during the peak of the dotcom bubble burst. Effectively I was out of work for 3 months, but didn't find full-time work for 9 months. I ended up having to borrow money from my parents to make ends meet (all payed back now).

At the time, I was very well versed in Delphi and was pretty good with C#, SQL, MDX, and various web technologies.

I spent my morning looking for new jobs, then in the afternoon I was writing my own MDX library for .Net (MDX is the Microsoft Analysis Services language/API). Eventually I was hired on by a contracting firm where I stayed for about 4 years.

My Take aways: My best advice is to stay connected with the community. Find a developer group that meets regularly, attend and present. I also learned I suck at running my own business.


The last company I worked at closed the office that I was working at in a consolidation move. Within 2 hours of the announcement I had multiple recruiters calling me (and everyone else in the office). They gave us two months to find a new job. I had 4 offers within 4 weeks.


Side note: A lot of people with good stories probably can't tell you about them because most people are required to sign an NDA when they get severance.

My story: I was laid off in August 2001. It was the third round of layoffs for the company, so it wasn't a huge surprise. When it happened I thought I'd try out consulting for a while, but then 9/11 happened and the economy tanked, so I went back to school. It turns out that the government throws money at you if you're over 25 and don't have an undergraduate degree.

I finished in 2003 and called up some old friends who I had worked with in the past and had a job lined up about a week after graduating.


Back in 2006 I got a contractor position to work for a large company. So, I gave my resignation at my current job and set things up that I would have one week off between jobs. During that one week, apparently the large company that I was supposed to be a contractor for decided that they no longer needed the extra resources and I am not needed. So, I was out of luck and out of a job.

Since I was already interviewing, my mind was prepped for the whole interview gauntlet. Interviewing full-time definitely helped out since it allowed a lot of time to study and prep. So, it took about another month to find my next role (full-time, not a contractor!).

Interviewing is a job itself!


I was let go a few months ago from a small startup. I had two good offers on the same day just from putting out the word that I was looking. Both were more than a 50% pay increase but I turned them down because neither interested me much and I didn't want to relocate.

I took a month off, went to see some family and friends out on the east coast and then started doing a little consulting while I look at other jobs.

Between my savings and my consulting income I'm in no particular hurry to jump right back in so I'm waiting for a full-time offer that I'm really excited about.

(Need a Scala/Akka guy?)


> (Need a Scala/Akka guy?)

Yes. Are you local to Seattle, or interested in Seattle?


My email is in my profile.


Sent.


I was laid off at a large electronics box store as a business systems admin after they closed 26 stores in Canada (guess who!) in 2013. I got another job for nearly double the salary afterwards so it was really good for me.

I started as a junior web dev at the new place so I learned web dev on the job instead of using the C# applications skills I had learned at my previous position and after a year have moved up to web developer with my new skills. Luckily the SQL, version control and OOP skills don't really change and after dealing with a multinational's database system I could rock the SQL pretty hard.

The drop in title was a bit of a kick in the pants but that's just superficial anyway. Everything else about the job was awesome -- and still is.

I took a week for myself to gather my thoughts and really think about what I wanted in life because I wasn't happy. Once I knew what I wanted it was easy as long as I didn't stop trying. This I think was the most important part of making the lay-off a success in the grand scheme of things.

Before getting the new job I had to go through a few months of EI and waiting patiently for the right fit. I got laid off at the same time as hundreds of EA and Microsoft workers with far more experience than I had at the time so finding a job was hard. I only had 1 year of industry exp before being laid off.


It was 4 months ago. A company that I wish to see myself heading towards my dream (Vancouver, Canada). It was the first startup that I have entered. The team are all seniors and I applied to be a programmer. When I started, I found out that my 3 years experience in Ruby on Rails is not enough for me to match my seniors. So I started as a junior programmer. But I didn't start work as what the job that I applied to. First I was sent to work on customer service. Answered tickets, answer calls, learn the product, etc.

As I continue on the job I was changed to QA (Quality Assurance) I haven't question why I have change roles or responsibility. I remember that it was on the contract but I haven't signed it because they forgot to give it and even remind them of it repeatedly. Anyway, after sometime I go on errands checking on the devices that run the app, do some test then report.

I wasn't happy about what I was doing and the seniors are very busy programming. Although they offered to give me a mentor but it didn't happen. It was a pressure to learn programming at the same time when you were exhausted doing work for 12 hours 6 days a week. So I wasn't able to really focus on programming as I start to burn out due to the long work hours. Then after a while they found a person that is more suited in QA. Eventually, I was moved to data entry position. At that time I know that it's time to quit. Then, Monday morning they asked if when am I leaving.

I learned a lot at the startup and also how organized the developers take bugs, feature and enhancement. And then I started to do my startup. It's a challenge but because of my learning form the startup, I was able to get an idea to move from programmer to entrepreneur.


I got laid off this past january. I was the js lead for a medium sized angular app. I found a new job in a month, similar job, and only had to catch up on some new tools like gulp. It was a pretty grueling month though, I probably sent out 10 resumes a day the first week. The good thing was I got a couple interviews early on that gave me some pointers as to what people were looking for. I then was able to do some research before the next interview. I wish I had worked on my interviewing skills from the beginning as I was rusty and blew a couple questions because I was not prepared. I agree with paulhauggis: do not believe management. I had gone to my manager three months before asking where I can be a better fit in the company because I felt I was redundant. I was told not to worry about it. I am not sure if they had planned to let me go at the time but I should have trusted my feelings more. I would also say, if you have some savings or got a severance package, take the time to catch up on what is new, and wait for a good opportunity.


Was part of a failing startup and knew what was coming. Still hurts to go through being laid off. They gave me a months severance.

Told a buddy what happened and had an interview lined up for the next day. Got the job and started the following week. In the end, I came out ahead. Consider myself lucky and fortunate that my skills are in such demand.


I was working at an early-stage startup, the core dev team was four people. I suffered a concussion and subsequently got fired because "my performance was inadequate". That "fired" changed to "laid off" once the illegality of the situation was pointed out.

I took a year off (I live in Quebeckistan, employment insurance here is pretty generous) and took the time to take care of my health, eventually continuing work on some personal projects. Did a lot of bike trips and learned to river surf - it ended up being a fantastic sabbatical.

Started looking for work about two months before my EI ran out - it was gruelling at first, revised the resume a few times, rebuilt my personal website.. After I bombed a couple of interviews I remembered how the game works, a few weeks later I had two offers. I chose luckily, and landed a comparable job at a much more stable startup.


In the late 90s I worked for a software company that kept buying small (15-30 employee) companies in the same field, and doing it with borrowed money. That worked until it didn't, and in 2001 the banks stopped being tolerant of late loan repayments from the company.

We were "emergency sold" to a large company in the field in a deal that took something like two weeks to arrange. I think the top brass ended up losing all their paper riches. Oh well, it was their decisions that got the company there anyway.

Anyway, the big company wanted to cut staff, so they laid off literally half the purchased company. They did it by seniority, but even after 5 years I was the newest person on my team. I got a great deal though. Four months pay for severance, and an extra two months bonus to stay on for two months and finish my current project (bonus on top of paying me to work for two months). So six months total. Living frugally, it was plenty enough for at least a year.

I used the money to move to Los Angeles, where I floundered for a while because I didn't have a network to tap into. Plus, you know, dot com crash and 9/11. I ended up freelancing on work through people back where I came from and built from there.

I'd been doing C++ server side work (not web). Over time my new work became more and more web oriented, and learning the stack was something new and fun. But a lot to learn.

Eventually the big company hired back a lot of the laid off people. One guy just took a six month vacation and then was hired back at a higher salary and a signing bonus. A manager went to work for a competitor for a year at a higher salary, and then came back to an even higher one at the original company, also with a hefty signing bonus. If I'd stayed in town I probably would have too. I did do some freelance for them at one point, supporting a west coast customer on software I'd written, at a much higher rate than I'd made at the company.

Big companies work in mysterious ways sometimes.


In 2008 I graduated from college and moved to New York City right away. I immediately got a job at a very early stage startup. The economic climate took a turn for the worse, and after a month the startup lost their main investment and had to cease operations. I was unemployed for about 5 days before I landed another, much better job. This was largely through checking Dice and applying to jobs that looked interesting (though I doubt Dice is a very good place to look for a job nowadays).

Later on around 2012 (still in New York City) I was working at a fairly large, profitable startup that underwent layoffs. I was able to leverage my network to get another, much better job, within 2 weeks.

Both times I was laid off it was a blessing in disguise. I was able to get much more interesting positions with better compensation and more responsibility.


I had a steady corporate gig until 2010 when I decided to take a stab at doing contract work.

My third gig was for a large health care company. We completely redesigned and rebuilt one of their web applications. The whole time, my manager kept telling me they were going to convert me to full-time. Since this was only my second contracting gig, I thought I had it made, and stopped talking with recruiters thinking I was about to land a sweet full-time gig.

Two weeks before the project was set to wrap up (we already had a very successful "soft-launch") I was told I'd be done after the launch. I was pretty pissed, thinking I was just taken advantage of, not really understanding this is pretty much par for the course with being a contractor.

I was out of work for just under a month. The rough part was essentially starting from scratch after telling recruiters I wasn't looking anymore. You have to restart contacting your contacts, then waiting for an opportunity to get in front of someone, then get an interview, or two, or in one case, three before hearing back.

At the time I was doing a lot of vanilla front-end work. Lots of static sites, HTML5, CSS3 and some low level Javascript. I didn't have to learn anything new (the era of big JS frameworks and tools was still years away) so my transition was pretty easy from being unemployed to landing my next contracting gig.

The lessons I learned from the experience is to never stop talking to your network and recruiters. Once recruiters think you're off the market, they'll stop contacting you and then its up to you to contact them. It's always good to keep as much information flowing to you as possible, no matter what situation you're in. Even in my last full-time gig, I was still interviewing and talking to people up until I decided to leave.

Also, never assume as a contractor your employer will bring you on full-time no matter what kind of bullshit and blue skies they keep selling you. Always, always, always assume when your contract term is up, that's it and plan accordingly.


I was laid off along with most of the engineering staff at the startup I was working at in February due to lack of funding. Since I'm based in NYC and my colleagues were very well connected people, the software community immediately reached out (like sharks smelling blood in the water, but in a good way :D) and most of us landed somewhere within a month or two.

It was quite a shock the way we were all let go and it seemed to catch many of us by surprise. I've been through this kind of event twice now in my career and it sucks, but I recognize that we are still in a really great market for software jobs right now, so there's nothing for me to cry about other than getting to work with that particularly awesome team anymore.


Company depended on me to keep afloat due to me being lead dev in project. They hired some cheaper devs from overseas and let me go. I was immediately hired by the company who was developing the project (no contractual issues) and the company that got greedy lost the project. It was a hard decision because I was worried about not being ethical. The worries went out the door when I realized that I did not do anything wrong. The company did survive but is limping. I do wish them the best. Good people, bad business sense.

(Btw, Im finishing up a project. Anyone who may need a Python/Go/JS [Django, flask, gorrila, learning React] dev let me know. Ive dabbed in .NET too (ASP.NET and desktop). Email in profile.)


I kinda got laid off from my internship pretty much before graduating from college. It was kinda a hit in the face. They had me interview for full time. Which even that took forever. So my last day with my internship was May 2014. Looking for a job was in fact a full time job, I finally landed something in August 2014, while interviewing for the company I am at a month prior.

When I left my internship I was mainly working blow off projects, which was a point I knew I was close to the end. The projects were a mix of adding content to websites, maybe a bug fix, create an html email, a bunch of front end web stuff (which was what my internship was about)..

Good luck in the long run.


Laid off in 2009 right at the time every company in the world was shutting it's doors.

Had multiple interviews and a much better job offer in a week using similar tech (web stack rails / .net etc). I had to relocate though. Since then risen to be CTO of company I was hired by. Best thing that ever happened to me.

The company laid off many developers and every single one I kept in touch with landed a job within a month or less.

During the layoff they kept many weak performers and what I call soft skill people over us developers. Funny thing is they now can't find devs to work for them to this day. I hear they are basically taking anyone willing to try at this point.


Company I was with folded in 2012 and I didn't get a new job until just over a year later.

We knew the company was doing bad (other departments got laid off first, people jumping ship) but it was just a regular weekday (I think it was a Wednesday) and I'd come back from lunch and found out they told everyone to pack up and they'd speak to us before we left. the owner said a few words. Sat on unemployment filling out applications until I got the job I'm in now.

It was really depressing and felt a bit hopeless. Barely paying the bills and lots of jobs just out a reach (no savings so moving would have been in my mind impossible).


It's somewhat obvious, but when you lose your job, you're unemployed.

I got dropped about two months ago. They didn't handle it well; failed to provide a written notice of any kind or immediately provide my final wages.

Since then, I've had an offer that fell through and several interviews. My time in the office has been traded for phone calls with recruiters and filling out forms. There's also a fair amount of leisure time, which I'm starting to divert toward projects.

I'll probably put more effort into my off-hours projects going forward, as I don't want the current stresses of my life to rise in the future.


In February 2010, I got laid off. That job was the very first job I got out of college, I worked there for about two and a half years, and most of my time at that company was spent writing code in Python doing black magicky platform things that don't really translate well to other companies.

It took me two years to find another job, and during that time I went insane from stress for a while.

So many companies wouldn't touch me because almost nobody wanted Python experience. Even the few companies who were willing to accept a developer with only 2.5 years of experience wanted that experience to be in C++ or Java.


Sorry to hear that. Care to share where you are located? I'm also doing Python and would love to better understand the market. If you prefer email, it's in my profile.


I'm in Dallas.

Things have gotten better since. I got a new job in March 2012, where they wanted someone with the exact kind of experience I had, plus I got to put some professional Java (and a bit of C++) experience under my belt to make my resume look nicer, at least. That company was dysfunctional like you wouldn't believe, but at least my unemployment was over. I ended up leaving that company for a much better position over the new year. Now, I'm just a Java developer... but at least I've got some marketable skills.

I'm honestly not sure what the Python market is like here anymore, though. I was kinda in a rush to get out of my last company because office politics had become a nightmare, so I took the first offer I got, and it wasn't a Python job. It pays really well, though.


I have been laid off in:

* 1981 * 1990 * 1996 * 2000 * 2005

(The last three in this list were occasions when I was present at the literal demise of a company: 1996 was a buy-out where the acquired company was basically demolished; the last two were essentially full-scale shutdowns.)

I left a job voluntarily in:

* 1981 * 1994

After each layoff there was a rather different experience in finding work. The first one occurred in SE Michigan at the beginning of an auto industry downturn, so finding work meant leaving the area. But for the most part it took me on average six months to find work again. Some of the gaps were filled by independent contracting/consulting gigs.


These comments worry me. During the Dot Com Burst, a whole lot of developers lost their jobs for obvious reasons.

Are we in a bubble right now?

I'm contracting for 15k a month. If this bubble pops it's over for me, right? For all of us?


"If this bubble pops it's over for me, right? For all of us?"

It might be harder to find work, you might not get 15K a month, but computers aren't going anywhere. This is still a good field to be in even if there is a "bubble".


Sine waves, sir.

Save that money - give yourself a year's solid cushion at current burn rates. Assume you'll be paying for health care and other benefits.

Good times are rolling, so save like a nutter so the bad times aren't as bad. :-)


I was laid off in 2006 as a Sr. Software Engineer writing systems software in C++ and Java. Thankfully my employer provided 3 months of severance. Through local connections I was able to land a new job immediately at the same title/level (albeit at a slightly less salary but higher total compensation). Thus I started my new job the Monday immediately following my last Friday of work (e.g. with no gap). So I banked the 3 months severance.

In retrospect, I wish I had taken advantage of the break between jobs to spend more time with my kids.


I was laid off in 2009. I was on the H1-B visa and I only had a month or so to find another job. It was tough and during the process of applying and interviewing for jobs, I went to my school to meet up with some professors and see if they had any projects or companies they could recommend me to apply for. One of the professors recommended me to apply for a position in a lab which was well funded. I met up with professor who still runs the lab. He convinced me to do a PhD. He sold me on it and that's exactly what I did.


Early in my career, was at GE in scientific/engineering software. The unit shrank, and I got laid off.

While still on my accrued vacation, sent some resumes and in two weeks went on seven interviews and got five offers. Took the best offer, again in scientific/engineering software, with a nice raise and the next year another nice raise. Soon I was making in annual salary six times what a new, high end Camaro cost.

My wife was in her Ph.D. program in essentially mathematical sociology, and my career was getting much better.

I went for a Ph.D., and got it in some applied math, stochastic optimal control with some algorithms, software, etc.

My wife also got her Ph.D.

That was the good news.

After my Ph.D., my career was totally shot. I was nearly unemployable at anything except academics which I did not want -- I wanted make money, support my wife and myself, buy a house, have and support kids, etc. The academics paid less than I was making before my Ph.D.

Also my marriage was ruined: The stress of her Ph.D. work threw my wife (Valedictorian, PBK, Summa Cum Laude, Woodrow Wilson) into a clinical depression. She never recovered, and her body was found floating in a lake near her family farm where she was visiting trying to recover.

Finally I ended up at the IBM Watson lab in artificial intelligence. I invented some algorithms, wrote software, worked with high end customers, published some papers, and then IBM lost $16 billion in three years, went from 405,000 employees down to 209,000, and the Watson lab went from 4500 down to 1500 with 500 of those temporary, and I was out of work. The guy who walked me out the door was immediately demoted out of management. The guy two levels up, with a corner office, 55 people, a budget, a secretary, was reorganized to have one more level of management between himself and the CEO, given a six month performance plan, and then demoted out of management.

Actually at IBM, due to the costs of commuting, housing, etc., I lost money. IBM never paid me enough to live and commute, certainly not nearly enough to buy a house and support a family. I saved money even in graduate school; at IBM I lost.

Out of IBM, I was absolutely, totally, permanently unemployable for, as far as I could tell, anything at all, anything, at least anything that would pay enough to live and commute to work. I sent 1000 resume copies and got back silence or nothing. Period. I'm a native born US citizen and have held security clearances as high as Secret. I've never been arrested or charged with crime except for minor traffic violations. I've never been in court. Never used illegal drugs or made illegal use of legal drugs. Never been intoxicated. Am in good health. I have proven high aptitude, interest, and accomplishments in STEM fields. I've written a lot of significant software. Yet, I was treated like I had a felony conviction.

But I could still do applied math and write software. I was good at several programming languages, TCP/IP, lots of applications, etc. And I'd had enough experience in business to see how it worked.

So, I thought of a problem that maybe nearly every Internet user would like to have solved, derived some math for the first good solution, drew out an architecture, fast, reliable, and scalable, for the software and server farm to present the solution to users via a Web site, and started writing the software, on Windows in .NET, ASP.NET, ADO.NET, etc. with Visual Basic .NET.

As of last Friday, I got all the planned software running.

So, I have a few, small revisions, and then will load some initial data, give a critical review, do alpha and beta tests, load some more initial data, plug together a server, get Windows Server and SQL Server from the Microsoft BizSpark program, go live, get publicity, run ads, and hopefully get users and revenue.

Advice: ASAP do not be an employee. Instead, start, own, and run a business.

Technology can be a big advantage, but for technical topics, except for just a hobby, say, mathematical physics, learn what you need when you need it for your business and otherwise strongly minimize the effort you expend on learning, say, C, C++, Java, JavaScript, Jquery, .NET, Web frameworks, C#, Python, Ruby, etc.

For the business, get some barriers to entry.

One of the very best approaches to business is just something with a strong geographical barrier to entry. So, if work hard and smart, actually can do okay, say, support family, get kids through college, have a good retirement, by doing well running a few fast food restaurants, a few gas and convenience stores, having lots of crews mowing grass, running a big truck, little truck business, say, in auto parts, plumbing supplies, electrical supplies, other industrial supplies, running a good, local building materials company, being a manufacturer's representative, running several pizza shops, a popular Italian red sauce, family restaurant, an auto repair shop, etc.

With such a business, when the kids are old enough, can also get the wife and kids involved, which can solve lots of serious problems and be just terrific for the family. The business education and career start the kids get helping in the family business easily can be much better than any Harvard or Stanford MBA.

A simple and not wrong way to look at STEM field Ph.D. degrees is as a US Federal Government supported labor supply for highly speculative, leading edge parts of US national security and not so much for anything else. Indeed, when my career was doing well, mostly I was around DC working on US DoD projects.

Mostly the US commercial world just deeply, profoundly, bitterly hates and despises the high end STEM work done mostly for US national security.

Only for a short time just before I went for a Ph.D. did I have money enough to buy a house, but then I didn't. Since then I've never had money enough to buy a house and, thus, haven't. And, after our Ph.D. degrees, my wife and I were never in a position to have kids, so I never had any.

I owe my brother's widow a major chunk of change.

If my startup works, then I'll be able to pay back my brother's widow plus a lot, buy a house, etc.

Mostly I recommend, stay the heck out of technology.

With some high irony, there's a movie Stand and Deliver about teaching calculus to high school students in a poor, Hispanic area of Los Angeles. The idea is that calculus can be their ticket out of poverty.

Some of the evidence the teacher gives for the value of calculus is to tour some Los Angeles area aero-space firms -- right, US DoD again.

At one point, a girl in the calculus class is torn between working hard on calculus or working in the successful, family Mexican restaurant of her parents.

So, the calculus teacher goes to the restaurant, talks to the owners and parents of the girl, and claims that calculus will help their daughter.

I know calculus, advanced calculus, mathematical analysis well beyond, and many important applications. I've studied calculus, taught it, applied it, and published original research in it. I know calculus.

On the claim of the calculus teacher, that is, calculus compared with the restaurant, I call BS. Total upchuckable, delusional, wacko BS.

For that girl, on average, working in the successful, family Mexican restaurant run by her parents and, thus, learning the family business, was by far, a wide margin, much, much better for her education, career, and life than anything reasonable from calculus.

The girl's parents were fully correct. The calculus teacher was nuts.

In particular, the US Federal Government doesn't grant H1B visas for workers in successful, family Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles but does strongly fund US college education in STEM fields.

In a STEM field, are essentially working in a market run by the US DoD and funded by the US Congress mostly only for US national security. So, it's very much not a free market. Indeed, for a while the US NSF had economists analyzing how many immigrants the US should fund in STEM field graduate programs to keep down the labor cost to the US DoD. It's a managed market, a rigged game.

For a career, you are better off running a family restaurant or any of a long list of other ordinary business opportunities.

But, if you are in technology, then maybe you can do a project, sell it off for a nice bundle, enough for you and your family to be fixed for life -- if so, then go for it.


Thank you for sharing this; my condolences on your wife. As someone staring down many of the same barrels, it is food for thought.


Yes, losing my wife and being unable to buy a house or have kids and then getting fired for no reason was a bummer.

A broad lesson: ASAP don't be an employee and, instead, start and run own business. Actually, working your way up to running, say, four fast food restaurants can be just fine.

Yes, I omitted: The guy at IBM "two levels up" basically just hated me, for no good reason if only because we'd nearly never spoken or interacted at all.

I was told to do some publishable research. Okay, I had some ideas. I thought that the lab should do the core research for valuable, new products, but getting close to a new product was essentially forbidden. So, instead, just to publish, that was plenty easy enough.

So I did the research and wrote it up as an internal working paper. Then the Watson lab claimed that the paper was not publishable.

Of course, out of IBM, I submitted the paper for publication, and it was accepted without revision by the first journal to which I submitted, Information Sciences. It's a nice paper.

IBM's claim that the paper was not publishable was incompetent or a lie.

But the guy two levels up who hated me for no reason did get me out of the company. It cost him his corner office, secretary, budget, etc., but he got me out.

There's more that's nasty, but let's not get into all of that.

Basically, IBM just didn't care about their employees, didn't have much idea what to do with them, and didn't much want them.

In more detail, a lot of middle management didn't much care, and top management was unsuccessful in having middle management care.

For someone who can actually be productive, running their own business is likely a much better path.

If a person is working for a company that doesn't know what the heck to do with them, and/or really doesn't much know what to do that's good at all, then tough for there to be a reason for the company to pay the person enough to be responsible as a husband and father. Instead, the company is perfectly willing to have the employee waste their life and, then, fire them.

For competition from big companies, likely they don't want to have people who could do good work; for such people, the company would likely block the people from doing good work; and a person who did good work anyway would stand a good chance of getting fired.

Net, if are running own business and doing something good, then don't worry much about competition from big companies. This is a very old story.


I got a new job within a week making 15k/year more (this was in San Francisco). It was actually a good thing, in retrospect.


Happened twice in the past 3 years. Both times I was back with a full time role within a month. The 1st time I actually was re-employed before I got my final paycheck. The 2nd time I reached into my network and had an interview within days. Then the hiring process drug on a bit but was back to work before unemployment paperwork was processed.


Not a software dev, but a long time product guy, UX, etc. left my last job due to stress of a failing project... Started my own gig on a topic I love using a killer framework. Typescript/node on AWS with Google Dart Frontend. P.s, could use a good co-founder. V1 of App is pending approval (Mometic.com)


Not a software dev, but a long time product guy, UX, etc. left my last job due to stress of a failing project... Started my own gig on a topic I love using a killer framework. Typescript/node on AWS with Google Dart Frontend. P.s, could use a good co-founder.


Seems like everyone in this thread landed a new (better) job in a matter of days/weeks.


One company I worked for stipulated in the separation letter that I will not ever be able to work for the company. If I did join the company and they found out, they would let me go.

Is that the came for other companies?


That's really weird. I've heard of people quitting to join a competitor being warned that this burns their bridges, and I've heard of people being fired or laid off and told that when the company is hiring again it would not be interested in hiring them back. But I've never heard of someone being laid of or fired and told that if they were ever hired back, and the people who did the laying off or firing found out, they'd make sure the person is fired again.

The only thing that comes to mind where I'd expect that would be if they suspected you of some serious criminal or unethical or immoral activity, for which they either did not have enough evidence to bring in the authorities, or did not want the publicity. Maybe someone in your group was stealing and made it look like it was you? Or some rival whispered some accusations like you touched children at the company picnic or were putting the moves on the CEO's wife? Ot someone overheard you talking about what you were planning to do in a FPS game, and thought you were talking about the real world and they are afraid you are a future office shooter and don't want it to be at their office?

Did they give you any reason why they want to make sure you will never be back, or was it a surprise to you?


No criminal or any such activity. Not so good performance was the reason. Was dealing with some family issues at the time.


I don't think publicly traded companies can do that.


Pretty sure an internal blacklist is completely kosher... sharing it, on the other hand, is almost never legal.


The one that gave me that letter was a publicly traded company.


Firing or layoff?


Edited the title to cover both.


I was laid off once as the startup I was working for was shedding some payroll in order to be bought. I had heard about it coming and talked to my VP to offer myself up as I was getting a little bored of the work and didn't envision myself being there more than another 6 months (in order for all of my shares to vest). Luckily he was very good about it and the severance was substantial plus all my shares vested immediately. I had a new job agreed to and signed within two hours of the conversation with my VP (with someone I used to work with at a company I was very familiar with). No interviews, no anything- I just said that I was available. It really helps to be someone people want to work with. It doesn't mean you're the best at what you do, but that you can be counted on and aren't so 'bristly' that people don't mind having to spend a lot of time with you.

The biggest turn in my career was the time I probably should've been fired but wasn't- but left within weeks anyway. I had just come out of a weeklong stay out of the hospital (received multiple blood transfusions) and was getting pressured as we had a huge client engagement I _needed_ to be on site for. I literally went from the hospital on a Monday to all day meetings with a client team and their other potential vendors on Tuesday through Thursday. Needless to say, I felt AWFUL. Was pretty damn tired, stressed out, and also having my phone explode with emails from the week and change of work I'd missed while in the hospital. I also looked like shit. There was nothing I could do that didn't have me looking like I just got out of the hospital, no matter how now my suit looked. After Thursday the potential client called up our sales partner and told him they wouldn't be moving forward with us as I seemed inattentive, distant, and that I checked my phone too frequently during the meetings. This of course caused a storm at the office and it was made plainly clear that not only was that my last and only chance, but I pretty much wouldn't be working on that sales partner's accounts anymore. We found out later there was funny business between the client and one of the vendors and we were never really going to win it anyway but that didn't help my cause. At the end of the day I should've said that I flat out couldn't make it or have been able to summon some super human powers to not look like how I felt. I wound up taking a job shortly after with the best company I've ever worked for and found a million more opportunities because of that new company than I ever would've had if I stuck around with the smaller company so it did all work out in the end- but it still galls me to think that there is a former employer who probably only remembers me for one monumental eff up that had nothing to do with my actual abilities or my client relationship skills.


Minecraft free


The company was failing and I knew the end was near. The entire design department was let go a few weeks earlier and I was assured that this wouldn't happen to me (don't ever believe management when they tell you this. Everyone is expendable).

Well, I was brought into a room and let go the following Monday. The boss even got pissed when he asked me if I would not look for a job for awhile because he "might want to hire me back" and I said "no". Within a few weeks, the office was sold and the rest of the employees were let go.

It took me 2 weeks to figure out an idea for a company and I made my first $50 within a month. This lasted about 2 years and I had to get another job when the business failed. I pivoted that original idea a year later..and I've been doing pretty well running my own business since then (3 years now).


That's incredible to me that the boss had the gall to ask you not to look for a new job. Good job on your business, I hope your success continues.


Looks like I'll need to talk with you.. I am laid off two months ago. My current adventure is to get my own, however I am facing some challenges. I would need to tap your brain. Please shoot me a mail .


Every time I got laid off (never fired, so far), I got a new job that paid 25-40% more. Every freaking time. Half the time I even got severance pay. And COBRA.

So I learned to like being laid off. It's one of the best things that can happen to you. When they ask you [during the interview] what happened at your previous job, you simply say they went belly up, and everyone gets it - companies go out of business all the time.




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