Why getting “laid off” is not such a bad thing
I write this with a lot of hesitation. I spent quite a bit of time wondering if the timing is right — perhaps the wounds are still too raw to accept lectures. [ Day 15 of “One Day, One Blog”]
If the Indian IT firms are planning to lay off two hundred thousand engineers in the next 3 years, I believe I should not hesitate to write by worrying too much about the “timing” of this post. If my words help even a few suffering in the wake of last week’s downsizing or those living with anxiety about the days to come, that would be a job well done.
There are 3 types of people I am speaking to:
- The middle level manager
- The junior engineering — techie with 3–4 years of work ex
- And the newbie
In all the above 3 categories, there will be a large number of people who arrived at their last held job without much thought or careful planning. They may have been fortunate enough to get selected from campus or may have spent a good 6 months doing various random IT courses in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad or even Coimbatore and landed a job with an IT firm. If you are one of them or you know any of them, you may do well to read on.
You are here because this is what you elder siblings or “seniors” at college did. It was the set path. Easier to follow than to take the road less traveled.
But this is where it hurts…
The vast majority of you may have made decent contributions to the work place; worked insane hours to prove your dedication and sincerity. And now all that you are left with is a sense of betrayal. The question haunting you would be, “Is this how they repay my loyalty?”
Yes, I understand and empathize. However, I still think that these “Layoffs” are a good thing to happen.
What exactly is the silver lining here?
Have you ever asked yourself the question — Is a career in IT what I really want? The hefty monthly pay — yes, but the job in itself?
One of the problems with us human beings is that we don’t like to rock the boat. So even if you knew that an IT job is not what you want, most of you wouldn’t take that first step to quit. You will sit in that chair for years and years to come. You will live with mediocrity well into old age, and then wonder what happened to your life.
The only reason you are guilty of mediocrity is because you have been doing a job you have no passion for. A passion for travel writing will not be appeased with comments you add on your code. Mediocrity is what results.
Why is this an opportunity for the middle manager?
Sir/Madam, if you truly love your profession, then don’t worry. You have tonnes of experience and there are companies that are on the lookout for you. You may need to take a small pay-cut but join an institution that values you. It may even be in a different industry, your skills such as people management, project execution, etc are valuable.
But let’s take a reality check –
Has your family been complaining about your insane hours? Do you take your teenage son out for a game of football? Is your spouse worried crazy about your health or the lack thereof?
This may be a great time to take a break and re-evaluate your life. It may need a course correction. Now is the time to do it.
Another question — and let’s be really honest this time. Are you on top of the latest developments in the tech world? Or have you been a paper pusher for so many years that you don’t even know what the latest trends are? Take this as an opportunity to get ahead in the game.
Why is this an opportunity for the Junior Engineer?
If you are the techie with 3 to 5 years of work ex and you have just been made redundant, I am sure you would have a pretty good idea of what went wrong. There would be a significant number of you who have been working on technologies that never really interested you. Perhaps some of you wanted to try your hands at android development. At least a few of you would be looking at your startup counterparts working in AI with barely hidden envy.
But the security of pay check and getting out of your comfort zone didn’t allow you to make a move. You are in luck. This is your chance. Educating yourself has never been this easy. Equip yourself. And go join a startup. Yes, you will not get the hefty pay package that you were previously getting but don’t make this about money. Think of this as a second round of college education
Why is this an opportunity for the Newbie ?
A newbie is defined as someone with less than 1 year of work experience OR the graduate who is awaiting the date-of-joining, after campus selection.
You are the luckiest of the lot.
Did you not take this job as everyone advised you on these lines — “Oh, you are lucky to get a campus placement. Don’t throw it away. Work for a few years and then decide what to do next”
You may still not be sure about what to do in life.
There is absolutely no shame in the confusion you are feeling. Trust me, if this confusion doesn’t bother you now, it will come back as a mid-life crisis in a couple of decades. My advice to you?
- Travel. Be a digital nomad. You may have some savings. Supplement that by taking on projects via Fiverr or Freelancer. But just get out and keep moving. There is no other degree which will enrich your life as a year spent travelling the world.
- Remember that company you wanted to start but your Dad talked you out of? Go ahead now. Be an entrepreneur. Build your dream!
- Not sure about that too? Join a startup. Figure your life out. It’s crazy. It’s amazing!
Everything comes with a price.
- Want to keep the cosy corporate life that comes with a regular paycheck? You will continue to live in fear that one day you too will get the axe and wonder what the hell job satisfaction is all about. It’s NOT something that you can blame on the HR.
- Want to stay at the cutting edge of technology? You have got to put in your own effort; not going to happen between 9 am to 6 pm.
- Want to launch the next unicorn? Take the plunge. If you continue sitting in that air conditioned office with innumerable trips to that vending machine, the billion dollar idea is not going to just pop into your head one day with investors following the next day. You need to jump into the water if you are serious about learning to swim.
So, as I said life is about trade–offs. It’s terrifying and awesome at the same time!
A note to the busybodies who make these people feel rotten:
Dear “Society”, if there is one thing I hold you responsible for, it is the stigma that you create for perceived failure. Leave these people alone. They are intelligent and kind people, who have already achieved more than most people in this world. They have not failed. They are at a cross roads in life. You have no right to judge them and make them feel awful.
To all the boys and girls who lost their jobs:
You have nothing to feel bad about. Please know that this too shall pass. Carry yourself with dignity. When someone makes you feel small, remember it says more about them than about you.
Go, make this world a better place — by finding out what makes you happy and being the best at it!
All the Best!
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Friends, this is the Day 15 of my odyssey to write one blog EVERY DAY for the month of May 2017. “One Day, One Blog”
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