Friday, April 28, 2017

Ask CJ: What should a new employee do about layoffs?

From the inbox, a question about what new graduates should do about layoffs, especially when they fall within a year or two of your hire date?

First, there's not much you can do about it - you can prepare your resume, you can work on your resume and your research summary. You can try to find people to act as your references, and start networking and brushing up your LinkedIn profile.

Other than that, I can't think of anything that you can do. The ax is gonna fall (or not), and there's not a lot that you can do to control that. Readers, any advice? I'd like to hear from people who have been through layoffs, especially those for whom the layoffs came early in their time at the relevant company. 

11 comments:

  1. My advice is to start sending out resumes. A lot of times, layoffs come in waves because they didn't make enough cuts the first time around, and the company is still losing money and desperate. When this happens, those laid off in the earlier rounds usually get more generous severance than the later ones.

    This is also a great reason to give when asked - everyone will understand that you're looking because you're worried about layoffs. If it's a healthy company and you're leaving after 1-2 years, they'll wonder if you're a difficult person to work with even if you have enough sense not to say "my boss is a jerk" during the interview.

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    1. Agreed. My last company went through a round of layoffs in November where newer employees were given two weeks severance and longer-term employees were given four.

      The following February, a second round of layoffs went through on a Wednesday and every employee laid off got the rest of the week paid out.

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  2. Jump on any opportunities to present in public, or publish. I've missed some opportunities to do this, and in retrospect, I should have done this. Some companies relax their publication review process a little during times like that; quick projects outside the usual development goals are sometimes easier to get off the ground, too. And if you are able to identify good opportunities, these can really enhance your resume/CV down the road.

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    1. Are scientists in industry allowed to publish outside of your are of industry research? For example to publish a book chapter/review/article with a previous undergrad or grad school professor, outside of the area where the company works

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    2. Yes, I don't see why that should be a problem.

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    3. Anon 4/28 12:54 here... that's a good strategy. I know people who have done it. Generally, the argument you want to be able to make to a publication review group is "this publication does not telegraph our benevolent employer's strategy or findings". As long as you can say that, and it sounds like you're already there, you're generally good to go.

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  3. Always keep your resume up to date and readily accessible. Keep discreetly sending it out. This applies if it's your first day on the job or if you're a thirty year veteran. Don't store it on your work computer and don't use your company email address.

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    1. Amen to that. At Rohm and Haas, we used to think things like networking and LinkedIn didn't apply to us because we worked for a strong company that would be around forever, owned by a family that had no intention of ever selling. I think almost all of my co-workers had to start from scratch with new resumes when the sale to Dow was announced.

      Ever since that happened, I always keep a current resume even when I have no intention of leaving my current job. I won't be caught napping again!

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    2. Amen to that. I've heard this same statement from many, many R&H folks and I'm sure it applies to a lot of other companies. I started working for Dow shortly after the acquisition, and spent a lot of time out at the Spring House site working with former R&H people. After seeing the changes being implemented, it started to feel like I was working for the "Evil Empire".

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  4. Begin the job search immediately upon the slightest suggestion of possible layoffs or poor financials. Seriously, do not ignore the red flags. And be very wary of trusting those who would reassure you. They want to make sure they cut ties on their terms, not yours. And while you're at it, change careers. Chemistry is a scam.

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