Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Layoff Project: "They herded us out like cattle."

An anonymous QC chemist writes in with their story of, well, insanity:

Hi there! I was a QC chemist at a pharma company. They laid off half of their employees days after they were raided by the FDA and US marshals. It was insanity!

Should you take a break? Jump right in to finding a new job?  
I guess that would depend on your financial situation. I had just bought a house and was planning a wedding so I jumped right in.

How can your family and friends help? 

Outside of getting you a job or money (ha), not much, at least in my case.

Was the help the company offered you (outplacement, etc.) useful?
HA! What help? They herded us out like cattle.

What financial advice can you offer? What should/did you do? 
We did the obvious and spent less. We stopped planning our wedding until I was working again.

What should you NOT do? 
Make any big plans.

When did you start looking for another position?
Before I was laid off. We all knew it was coming.

How painful was finding another position?
I found another position immediately, at a company I worked for previously, but I did take a month off. It was for far less money but it was way more than unemployment. I was eventually (a year later) called back to the company that laid me off while I was involved in an active lawsuit against them. Talk about HR sleeping on the job. It was all public knowledge. Anyway, I had to go back for the money and benefits. I worked there for another year which was absolute misery.

What should someone be emotionally prepared for? 
Fear and anger. Maybe relief!

How did you spend your typical day? What behaviors do you think were helpful or not helpful? 
I walked my dog morning and night and just enjoyed myself. It was July and I fully enjoyed my time off knowing that I would be back to working again soon.

Have you found new work? What was helpful there? 
I finally found a new job this summer and I have never been happier. Working under the EPA is far more forgiving than the FDA! I started to HATE chemistry and lab work while working under the FDA. I got so pissed at work one day that I enrolled in business classes and bought lottery tickets...I never play the lottery. The most helpful thing about my new position is that it gave me my confidence back. I do have great ideas, I can implement them, I can still love instrumental analysis and I can wake up everyday and not despise my job and employer. 

CJ here again. Thanks again to aQC for telling their story and best wishes to all of us. 

The Layoff Project is an attempt to collect the oral histories of chemists who have been affected by the changes in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries. The explanatory post is here; stories can be left in the comments or e-mailed to chemjobber -at- gmail/dot/com. Confidentiality and anonymity is guaranteed. 


  1. Don't have a job? Major in science of course! There is a critical shortage!

  2. Don't forget to vote for 'hope' and 'change'. You never know when your company's CEO will sell out your job to hob-knob with Obama... Just look at Kindler. Destroy a once promising pharmaceutical company and gets to be Obama's right hand man for health care.

    Maybe if the CEOs keep kissing Obama's a$$ he'll create a plan to fill this horrible shortage of scientists and engineers. Better send some kids to school for free because people just aren't interested in science any more!