Friday, November 21, 2008 brought to a close the longest period of employment at a single company I've ever had. I lasted six years - almost to the day - as a salaried employee, plus another nine months as a contractor. The previous record was a little over three years.
The economic downturn is hitting hard, and the HR director indicated to me that the company is doing roughly 1/4 of the business necessary to sustain itself. Also, the outlook for the future is not good. So they performed a round of layoffs, and I would be shocked if there aren't more.
I've smelled the blood in the water for a little while, so I was expecting the axe to fall. We had scaled back an aggressive new product development effort, and the state of the economy was blamed. Also, the annual raises were delayed by several months, with no real comforting indication that they would happen at all. Surprisingly, the severance package is very generous, much more so that I would have expected.
Teri and I have been working hard on our finances, and now our efforts are going to at least partially pay off. We have our debts down and savings up high enough that we can get by on her income alone for a couple years. The severance pushes that out closer to three. If the unthinkable should happen and she would also lose her job, we can go for about a year. So I have no reason to panic, and plenty of time to find a good job. If I can find a similarly-paying job within the next couple of months, I should actually come out ahead.
I do pick really good times to lose my job. Last time was just after 9/11. This time, the aforementioned economic crisis. I also keep alive another streak: since college I have never quit a job, or been fired for performance reasons. Each case as been a reduction in workforce.
The last time I lost my job, I semi-expected it but was mostly caught of guard. I didn't even have a resume. This time, I've already been actively searching for work, and have been on several interviews. Last time it was about 4 months before I found another job. This time, I have a really good head start. Getting laid off from my previous job turned out to be one of the best financial moves I've ever made. Hopefully I will be that fortunate again.
I don't really know what is next for me. If I stay within the comfort zone of my skill set, I'm almost certainly going to wind up with a pay cut. I-DEAS just isn't in demand, and SolidWorks jobs don't seem to pay very well. I'd like to start working my way up the corporate ladder, get into some managerial positions, but I don't have the experience. I suppose I could go try to get an MBA, but now doesn't seem like the right time to spend that kind of money. This would also be a good time to refocus my efforts on Mac programming, since that has pretty much fizzled out.
One way or another, 2009 should be an interesting year.