Thursday, January 22, 2009

The emotional stages of being laid off

Well, it happened today. My entire team got laid off. I myself got "the package" at 1:15 today. It's actually a good package, and I'm grateful to Sun for that.

Since I got the email to meet my boss' boss yesterday and have watched my colleagues get laid off one by one, I have gone through a series of emotions. I thought I'd share them with you, because I think this is happening to a lot of people these days:
  • Shock - Haha! I'm going to get laid off! How silly, what a funny drama!
  • Fear - How am I ever going to find another job in this economy? How am I going to take care of my wife and kids? Where's the next paycheck going to come from?
  • Self-recrimination - Man I fucked up. I shouldn't have switched groups. I didn't do enough to make myself known to management. I didn't try enough to find another job when I saw this coming. I should have known they would kill this project. Maybe I was too lazy. I'm really not that good a programmer, that's why they're letting me go. I guess I just don't have what it takes.
  • Anger - What's wrong with them? Don't they see I'm valuable? Why do all my friends in my old group get to stay and I have to go? Why wasn't I one of the ones they kept? Those bastards don't know what they're losing. Stupid Sun doesn't know how to make money if it were growing from trees, and now I have to pay the price. Jerks.
  • Sadness - I really liked working for Sun. I was proud to be part of Sun. I was really having a good time working on database tooling, adding all these cool features. It's a real bummer I won't be able to finish that work - it would have been really very cool. I'll miss the team too, we were having a great time.
  • Resignation - Ah well, it is what it is. Let's just see what happens next.
  • Attitude adjustment - I'll be taken care of. This is an opportunity. When something leaves, it makes room for something new to come in. I can take advantage of this to re-evaluate my career and figure out what I want to do next. Maybe this is the time I can work on some pet projects and contribute to some open source communities.
Then repeat, about every fifteen minutes. Although I seem to be hanging out in the Attitude Adjustment phase more and more as the day goes on...

16 comments:

Antony said...

I'm sure you'll land on your feet. You'd better, because otherwise you'll have to move in with me!

Love you little brother.

Antony

odyssey said...

All the best David.. Being an ex-sun employee i went through most of the emotions that you went thro when some of my friends over there got laid off yesterday.. Yes, that part where "sun wouldnt make money even if money grew on trees" still runs on my mind whenever i hear that some of the good folks got laid off for no part of theirs.. All the best.. And i am sure good things are just around the corner..

LenZ said...

Wow, so your suspicions the day before turned into reality...

Very sorry to hear about that, David. All the best to you and much success with future ventures!

branajam said...

Hi David,
I'm in shock from all the layoffs, especially yours. Frankly, I can't imagine NetBeans going forward without you (not to mention databases). It has been truly great working with you. I've never learned more from an engineer than I have from you. Thank you for your patience with this tech writer, your encouragement to keep blogging, and your very clear answers to my questions. You made my job a helluva lot easier (and I'm sure I'm not the only one).

ddevore said...

I am also an X-Sun employee. I was laid off four years ago and went through the same emotions you described. My prayers are with you and the others being laid off there. Good luck with the new opportunity.

Andy Cohen said...

What a pisser! Having been laid off in the past, I really appreciated your description of the various emotional facets of the experience. You're a great engineer and a great guy, David. My employer currently has a hiring freeze, or I'd lobby to bring you in here. I'm looking forward to seeing what your next adventure is.

John Yeary said...

I am very sad to hear about you leaving Sun in such a disappointing way. I too have been laid off in the past, and your emotional descriptions are in alignment with my own from that time.

You are a brilliant engineer and I am sure that you will find another opportunity soon.

Neil's netbeans stuff said...

Man that is a pain, just as the netbeans database side of things just started to get interesting.

I am sure you will find someting to do, If you fancy coming the UK we still have jobs being advertized here check out http://www.cambridgenetwork.co.uk/vacancies/alljobs/

Good luck

Anonymous said...

hope that you will pass all of that and think in the futur not what you was

Giovanni said...

If I can stay employed in this industry (and I'm much less talented), I'm sure Mr. Van Couvering can...

But as an outsider, it's terrible to watch such skilled and productive teams be dismantled. Obviously, Sun as a company, is under heavy financial pressure to do things like this, but it's still terrible to see.

JavaDB and the NetBeans database support have been such high quality products. That's awful news to hear.

jvasko said...

Hi,

I have nothing to do with Sun Microsystems. Just saw your post when I google stages after being laid off. You pretty much summed it up. Thanks for your post - and the fact it was optimized so well

Anonymous said...

I just got laid off two weeks ago from Disney. Man, you said it! Never read a more perfect article. The way they did it was brutal: we got called one by one to do the Walk of Shame from our desks to the Layoff Room, BACK to our desks with an assigned escort (we weren't allowed to take our personal belongings; we had to come back for them later), then BACK down the hall with said escort. Humiliating. Thank you for writing this.

David Van Couvering said...

Hey, Anonymous, very sorry to hear about your layoff at Disney! Many best wishes for finding the perfect job ASAP. Sorry you were treated that way.

Babblesmith said...

Hi David, just had to say thanks again for this spot on post. We just had another Sun RIF cycle in PRG and it was my turn this time :( Reading this and forwarding it to other affected mates has helped. On the bounce already :)
Brad

David Van Couvering said...

If it's any encouragement, I *did* find another job, and a good one at that, although it took 3 months. Those were a harrowing three months.

My heart and blessings go out to those who have been without work for an extended time, year after year. I can only imagine what that feels like.

jamie marcelo said...

HI, i googles emotions faced when getting laid off and landed on your blog. these are exactly what i am going through right now. i am glad that all turned out better for you and i will strive to get the same result.. with the right attitude.

thank you for this

-jamie form the philippines.