Author Topic: Going to be "laid off" soon  (Read 9192 times)

nybeccaboo

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Going to be "laid off" soon
« on: September 20, 2013, 09:17:18 AM »
Hi everyone - I've been a lurker for a long time after discovering MMM a few years ago. I now have a dilemma and could use some help/guidance.

I am going to be laid off from my job in the next few weeks/months. The catch is, I donít know when itís going to happen.  Long story short, my manager no longer seems to like me and they are looking to push me out. I know there are politics involved  because my department is going through a reorganization and I was the last one hired into the team 5 years ago. From the looks of it, theyíre looking to avoid paying out severance.  Iím actually on a final written warning for using the word ďscareĒ on a team call (as in ďI had a scare this week, but Iíve resolved the issue.")

I am actively looking for a new job, but so far, I haven't had much luck so I'm trying to plan for worst case scenario. Worst case, Iím on unemployment for a few weeks/months. The good news is that I live in NYC, but work in New Jersey so I would be eligible for NJ unemployment benefits which are slightly higher.  I live well below my means Ė my monthly expenses, including mortgage/maintenance, come in at about $2100 a month and that even includes an entertainment budget. My only debt is my mortgage and it's 160,000 at 4.5%  Iíve maxed out my 401(k) and Roth IRA for the past 6 years, plus I save/invest about $1200 a month.  Not too shabby, in my opinion!

Hereís my dilemma/question:   Iím worried I wonít find a job and unemployment will run out. I have no problems taking temp or retail work, but itís still a genuine fear that I have right now. (As you might imagine, my self-esteem has taken a major hit over the past 6-8 months. For 4 years everything was great, but now I canít seem to do anything right and am quickly told so.) 

For the time being, does it make sense to stop contributing to my Roth and bring down my 401(k) to just get the employer match? I have about $25,000 sitting in general savings as well as around $50,000 in stocks/funds, which in my mind is a decent amount. And, to be perfectly honest, I can live fairly comfortably on unemployment and would even be able to save about $100 a month or so.  I would prefer to keep contributing as long as possible, but the fear element is making me rethink everything.

Any thoughts or advice?

Jimbo

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2013, 09:22:18 AM »
If i can read this right, you seem to have an emergency fund that can cover - alone - around 2 years of living expenses, PLUS you can live on unemployment payouts PLUS you're willing to work retail/whatever before finding another job...

I mean, those are pretty good safety nets.

Keep the job search going (like, a lot of going) and you'll be fine, in my opinion.

Another Reader

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2013, 09:48:02 AM »
Terminated for cause is not the same as being laid off.  The company probably is not trying to avoid severance, it's trying to avoid having you collect unemployment.  Check with both jurisdictions, but my bet is you are going to have a hard time collecting unemployment.  It's also harder to get a new job if you can't use the old company as a reference.

MsSindy

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2013, 09:59:13 AM »
Terminated for cause is not the same as being laid off.  The company probably is not trying to avoid severance, it's trying to avoid having you collect unemployment.  Check with both jurisdictions, but my bet is you are going to have a hard time collecting unemployment.  It's also harder to get a new job if you can't use the old company as a reference.

And with the above in mind, I would cut back on your contributions and stash as much cash as you can so you don't drain your reserves too much.  Are you looking for a job now?  I wouldn't wait until the axe falls - start looking now, even if that means jumping to a contract position.  If your current environment is really that unstable, better to leave on your own terms than being terminated for cause.  Besides, wouldn't it just feel better to know that YOU left and it was your decision - boost to the self-esteem.  While interviewing though, you'll want to have a good positive story on why you want to leave...don't bad-mouth your current employer. 

Good Luck and keep us posted on your next steps!  This community is great for reviewing resumes and such.

willn

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2013, 10:00:39 AM »
Sounds like you're doing all the right things financially, my suggestion is that if it helps add to your "emotional security" and comfort level then reduce your contributions.

That may help you focus on the job hunt--don't underestimate the power that worry and stress can have when you are job hunting. I don't think the contribution will matter much to you financially, but if it helps you feel more secure that has value. Stress and negative emotions can leak out during an interview in subtle ways, so

Once you find a new job, just dump the extra savings you didn't contribute, into your tax preferred accounts.

You didn't ask but regarding the job hunt, get very strategic--treat it like a high priority project that someone is paying you to do perfectly.  Here are some tips I've gleaned over the years. Maybe you know them, but...

Press everyone you know to think about positions they may know of (or can create for you.)  Emailing resume's rarely gets you interviews.  Knowing someone at the company is what does it.

Practice interviewing.  My job hunts have been numerous but with long periods between them, so I always seem to botch my first interview, I've finally learned to practice with friends and family.  This is "operant conditioning" to get you comfortable in a role that is stressful and unfamiliar.

It's easy to get frustrated in your position, but treat your current job with maximum respect--they may not want you there, but you can set an example for yourself and others of what it means to be diligent, responsible and keep a great attitude.  This may not help you keep the job but it give you a sense of honor and respect for yourself.  So try to exceed yourself even if you've done great.

Set very specific goals for yourself.  ie Meet 5 new people a week in your field.  Cold call 3 companies a week you may want to work for.  etc etc.

totoro

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2013, 10:02:22 AM »
I was thinking the same thing.  In Canada if you are terminated for cause you are ineligible for unemployment insurance.  Do you know any employment lawyers?  In Canada you can appeal and argue that there was not just cause and have EI reinstated if this is found.  In addition, you could sue for wrongful termination.  Following the steps that lead to dismissal does not automatically mean that grounds for termination existed.

Numbers Man

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2013, 10:08:25 AM »
I have walked in your shoes nybeccaboo. It is so much easier explaining to a future employer why you quit your job instead of why you were laid off. You are lucky that your employer is giving you clear signals that they don't want you anymore. Take advantage of the situation and aggressively search for a new job. You have plenty of emergency money stashed away. It may take you a few months to find something. But don't discount looking in November and December. That's when most of the job candidates drop out of the job market and celebrate the holidays which leaves you with less competition. Above all, don't panic.

nybeccaboo

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2013, 10:44:25 AM »
Thanks everyone for your comments! I really appreciate them and you've helped calm my nerves.

I actually looked at NJ unemployment on their Dept of Labor site which is why I said I might have to wait a few weeks to collect.  From what I've read, you won't be able to collect unemployment if you were let go for "gross misconduct". Definitely not my case since I haven't embezzled, destroyed property, verbally/physically abused anyone, etc. And you have to wait if it's a case of simple misconduct, like insubordination or lateness or absences.  I would fall under "not performing to their standards," but I'm not sure if that's considered a simple misconduct or just a regular claim.  The reason I said they were trying to avoid severance is because I spoke to the former employee relations director (who is still at the company) and he mentioned it.

I would much prefer to leave on my own terms as opposed to waiting for the ax to drop.  I've had 2 interviews and while I didn't get the jobs, I view it as a positive sign because I was called within a few days once I submitted my resume.  I've also reached out to a bunch of people to network and to see what's available. The good news is I'll have good references from this place, just not from my immediate manager. Funny enough, I actually work in HR (compensation, not generalist side), but I know the rules. They can only confirm the dates I was employed with the company.  They cannot say anything negative about me because there could be legal ramifications.  Plus, the busiest time of year for compensation is almost always year-end, meaning November thru February. I'm sure I can contract work around that time and once bonuses are announced/paid is when everyone quits for greener pastures.

I'm excited for a new beginning. This place has taken a toll on my health. I rarely ever get sick (maybe a slight cold each year), but last week, I was knocked on my butt with a serious respiratory infection. I'm pretty sure no one believed it, even though it involved trips to the emergency room and urgent care. All of the doctors I saw believe that the stress wore down my immune system.  My co-workers (same level as me) are beginning to feel the same way. I've filled them in on everything and they're shocked at what's going on and equally as stressed out.

livetogive

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2013, 10:52:10 AM »
I've seen similar garbage in financial services; here's my advice (but take with a grain of salt).

Option 1.  Stop contributing to excess retirement, don't commit to anything big money wise, possibly apply for another low interest rate, no annual fee credit card while you are still employed and aggressively search.  If it get worse at work, just leave.  Do NOT schedule vacation for the holidays, simply plan to quit before that and get paid out on your days.  I've seen employers deduct vacation days for people they laid off because they asked for it but hadn't taken it yet.

Option 2.  Seek out an employment lawyer to ensure you get laid off vs. terminated for cause.  Even mentioning you have one might change their mind when they call you in, especially if you've made a plan.

Option 3.  Wait and see.  I'm not familiar with NJ, but maybe you can still get bennies for being terminated for cause.

Of the three, I'd go with 1 and consider 2.  If they're even remotely human they may appreciate not having to fire you (most managers hate doing that) and you can honestly say you left when you realized it wasn't your passion, climate changed, you really wanted to pursue a job in X, whatever.

livetogive

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2013, 10:56:01 AM »
One more thing, and it deserves it's own post.

You are a valuable human being. 

People care about you and the fact that you're emotionally intelligent enough to realize what is going on means you're no dummy.  The best thing this blog is teaching me is not to care about a job, as hard as that is to do when things are rough 8-10 hours per day.  One thing that helped me was to start working out at 6am before work.  I was tired but walking in after a killer workout made me feel more invicible when some fat jerk started screaming at me and calling me his b*tch.

oldtoyota

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2013, 10:59:45 AM »
Terminated for cause is not the same as being laid off.  The company probably is not trying to avoid severance, it's trying to avoid having you collect unemployment.  Check with both jurisdictions, but my bet is you are going to have a hard time collecting unemployment.  It's also harder to get a new job if you can't use the old company as a reference.

+1 the above.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2013, 11:03:58 AM »
I'm so sorry about the situation, but it's a good thing you can see the writing on the wall and get prepared. It sounds like you have a good emergency cushion, so I'm going to disagree a little bit w/ the above advice. Continue contributing to your 401(k) to the match and continue your IRA contributions. If you run out of your emergency $$, you can tap your IRA principal.

In addition to aggressively looking for work now, I would also see if there are new skills you can pick up to make yourself more marketable, or professional organizations you can participate in to make more contacts in your field (you may be able to gain skills and network at the same time).

On the expenses side, I would start putting any frugal goals in place now -- cutting cable or switching cell phone plans, making energy efficiency improvements, etc. I don't think you can refi for much less than 4.5% or else I'd suggest that.

jrhampt

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2013, 11:25:43 AM »
I agree that there is a huge difference between being laid off and fired.  I would try to be proactive and see if you can come to an agreement with HR where you agree to be laid off and not contest or sue in exchange for being able to collect a severance package.  The difference for me would be about $50k in severance - of course this will vary based on your company's policies, but is usually based on your pay band and length of employment.  If it is at all possible for you to get laid off rather than fired, try to get laid off.  Financial Samurai has written some about this on his blog.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2013, 11:41:30 AM »
Yes, keep looking for a new job now. It sounds like you're already doing that, which is great.

It also sounds like you have enough saved up outside of retirement accounts to meet your expenses for a couple of years, so I don't see a pressing need to start saving much more money now. You should be able to find some work within a year, especially if you're willing to take on lower-skill retail or service jobs while you look for something better.

If you still want a bit of extra cushion, you could take a break from IRA contributions for now. You have until April 15 to make your contributions for this year. Take a look at your situation in the spring and max out your 2013 contributions if you have steady work at that time.

nybeccaboo

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2013, 05:59:52 PM »
Thanks everyone for your great advice, especially TurboLT - I've been knocked down by my boss for the past  6 months and forgot that I was valuable and smart and that it was only a job. And one I barely cared about at that.

The lay off happened today and I couldn't be happier. My boss was close to tears and I don't think she appreciated my reaction. I was grinning like an idiot and said something along the lines of "finally! It really wasn't working out for me." I think she thought I'd be more upset. I will be eligible for unemployment (performance isn't considered "termination with cause" in New Jersey) and because of MMM, the forums, and living way beneath my means, I know I'll easily survive without a job. I'm looking forward to taking some free classes on Coursera and volunteering a little more. I may even try to re-learn Spanish on Duolingo.

Funny enough - about 2 hours after it happened, I received an email to interview for a position I applied for last week.  I'm hopeful I won't be unemployed for too long.

Norrie

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2013, 06:13:11 PM »
Congrats on the lay off, and definitely remember that you are so, so much more than this job. I was laid off in 2009, and I really felt dreadful and depressed for a good few months. I had nightmares about work, I felt embarrassed of myself, etc.

Looking back, it was so not worth feeling bad. Being laid off from that job was truly the best thing to happen to my career, and my current job would have never happened otherwise.

Take some time to just enjoy being you. It sounds like you're on great footing, financially, and that you have a great head on your shoulders.

Sarita

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2013, 08:14:32 PM »
So great to hear that you are in a great place to start the next chapter of your life.  I too work in HR and so often I see people who are laid off go on to much happier things--- while those left behind are often managing heavier workloads.  You are free now.  Congratulations on all of your hard work and discipline--- it's really paid off for you!

Dicey

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2013, 09:55:24 PM »
Woo-hoo, hooray for you nybeccaboo!

Sounds like the job was detrimental to your health. When I was in my early twenties, I landed my dream job. The beginning was wildly awesome. Then I got a new boss. I hated him and the job lost its luster, but I felt I couldn't quit. It was my first "real" job and I didn't want to be a job jumper. Tons of stress ensued, but I gritted my teeth and hung on. Eventually, I developed a lump, which turned out to be malignant. Now, do I believe that extreme stress played a role? You bet I do. I vowed not to "eat stress" ever again. To this day, I describe myself as a "recovering" Type A. And I've been cancer-free for over thirty years!

While I was out on disability, luckily for me, the bad boss was fired. I stayed a total of five years, loved the job again, learned like crazy and then moved on.

I am so, so glad for you that you are out of the snake pit that your job had become. Don't stress too much about getting a new job, any job. Your prudence and savings will protect you from having to make a desperate move. Enjoy this hiatus, let your system detox all the bad stuff from the last job and then you can look toward the future with clear vision and renewed vigor.

P.S. Be extra careful what you say if you maintain contact with any of your former colleagues. It sounds to me like your former supervisor could have been threatened by you. Do not give your old boss anything else via a contact that might reinforce the decision. Who knows? Someday, that particular supervisor may be gone and the company might come a-callin' again. Then you will be in the driver's seat. You can look in your rearview mirror and laugh all the way down the road of life.

Zamboni

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2013, 11:18:41 PM »
But don't discount looking in November and December. That's when most of the job candidates drop out of the job market and celebrate the holidays which leaves you with less competition. Above all, don't panic.

+1
I've also noticed that companies tend to open positions which had been "on hold" around this time of year depending upon how their annual budgets work.  I've started 75% of the jobs I've had in December or January, so Fall can't be a bad time to be on the market!  Good luck!

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #19 on: October 01, 2013, 09:43:03 AM »
Good luck at your interview!

MissStache

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #20 on: October 02, 2013, 12:53:28 PM »
Good luck with your interview!

Coincidentally, I'm also in HR Compensation.  Any interest in moving to the DC area?  It's a hot commodity job around here!

nybeccaboo

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #21 on: October 03, 2013, 01:45:12 PM »
MissStache - I can't believe you're in comp, too! I rarely meet people are in it or even know what it is.  I've started looking at posting from around the country just for fun and noticed DC seems to be a hot market.  If nothing pans out here, I'll definitely give it a go!

It looks like the phone interview went well and I have a follow up interview with the hiring manager next week. I'm excited because it sounds like a great fit, but I'm also surprised at how relaxed and unstressed I am now.  I was able to laugh with the HR interviewer instead of being so serious and feeling desperate for a new job. I kind of like this happy feeling. Feels good to laugh again, along with sleeping peacefully at night. :-)

Cinder

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2013, 04:50:42 AM »
It looks like the phone interview went well and I have a follow up interview with the hiring manager next week.

How did the follow up turn out? Get the job?

Khan

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2013, 05:18:48 AM »
Congratulations on being temporarily free of jobs, enjoy it for what it's worth, sipping coffee and going to the park, etc.

My 2cents, don't restrict yourself to an area. I wish you luck with your job search, but widening the net can yield huge benefits for employment opportunities, and who knows, you may like where you move. I've lived in the bay area, Las Vegas, South Carolina, Hawaii, and Phoenix(most of those were military) and I've enjoyed various bits of each area, and am pretty sure I know my own dream area - Oregon or Washington near the cities.

Heed these articles, even though you don't own your place, they still apply if you're trying to stay in the same area:
http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2013/05/link-betweeen-high-levels-homeownership-and-unemployment/5520/
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/higher-levels-home-ownership-lead-095200095.html

scrubbyfish

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Re: Going to be "laid off" soon
« Reply #24 on: November 27, 2013, 03:10:50 PM »
First, great job on being prepared for the crap life throws at us by:

-living below your means,
-having a multi-faceted plan,
-being in this community before a big issue struck,
-etc

From your posts, I'm confident things are going to go well for you long term.

Three thoughts:

1. A friend recently went through something that sounds extremely similar. When she was let go, she was so stunned (no warning in her case) that she just moved on (she received two excellent job offers about four weeks later and enjoyed her time off in the meantime). One thing she has said is that she really wishes she had at least consulted with a lawyer before signing a document releasing the former workplace of various liabilities. She regrets not having looked into what her options were -not for staying (the job had become hell and she had no desire to stay), but for ensuring severance, increasing severance, etc.

2. You might at this time enjoy the book The Joy of Not Working. It really fits with MMM stuff, and it can help with the psychological transitions involved in being between jobs, should there be such a period for you.

3. What about approaching your employer and pitching a win-win? They want you gone, you want to be gone. They want to avoid severance, you would like unemployment benefits. Perhaps a mutually-satisfying agreement can be negotiated. Again, I would consult with a lawyer before doing this. I've rarely had a "normal job" but have done this in long term contracts, landlord-tenancy stuff, etc, with great results. It's worth considering.

ETA: Oops! Teaches me to read the whole thread first! You got your yummy lay off and will get benefits -awesome, awesome. I'll leave my post up in case others are going through similar stuff and still need the thread/ideas. (Though the friend I mentioned, she was called back in some days *after* the lay off to sign the documents. So maybe that part will be helpful still for you, too.) Best of success to you!!
« Last Edit: November 27, 2013, 03:15:40 PM by scrubbyfish »