Given that I live in Round Rock, TX, just 6.37 miles from Dell Computer galactic headquarters at 1 Dell Way 78682, I hope it comes as no surprise that many of my neighbors work for that company. In fact, of the 21 houses in my immediate block, at least 9 of those households number (or numbered until recently) one or more Dell employees among its members.
Because my Dad came to visit for the weekend, and my Mom (who’s now a resident in an assisted care facility) asked for a photo of my wife, my son, myself, and the old man by phone yesterday afternoon, I had to get some outside help to take that photo to meet her request. As I stepped outside into the front yard, I ran into my next door neighbor–let’s call him Tom–and asked for his help in making the shot. He not only obliged, but also told me in passing while we were waiting for the other folks to assemble that he’d been laid off at Dell last Thursday (April 16). To the best of my knowledge, he’s the closest co-resident around here to get the axe at Dell. His job had been to orchestrate factory floor and order logistics to make sure that large orders were properly scheduled, parts ordered for timely delivery, and that builds met both specification and quality requirements before being shipped to their (volume) buyers.
When I asked him what he planned to do, he said: “I’m going to take a couple of weeks off, then I’ll start looking for another job” (fortunately, his wife remains gainfully employed so I guess it’s not an immediate crisis). When I asked him what kind of severance package he got he told me it was “about four months pay, plus two months COBRA and two months of outplacement assistance.” From those remarks, and knowing as many current and former Dell employees as I do, I’m guessing further that he had between 5 and 10 years with the company.
When I asked him how he felt about it, he provided an interesting and illuminating response: “I’d been thinking about leaving for some time anyway, and hadn’t been completely happy there, so I guess this will be for the good in the long run.” To me, this shows a healthy response to a difficult and painful situation: first, he recognizes that he had issues with his previous situation and was already thinking about making changes on his own, and second, he’s looking more forward toward what lies ahead, rather than brooding or worrying about what has already happened and probably can’t be undone.
I also have to applaud his decision to take some time to relax and regain his bearings before jumping right into the job hunt. This will probably give him a chance to regain his equilibrium and muster some enthusiasm for the research, interviews, and personal networking activities that await him. While I certainly wouldn’t wish anybody else into Tom’s shoes, I must commend him for a healthy and well-considered reaction to his situation. I’d recommend a similar approach — and outlook — to anybody else who does find him- or herself in those same shoes, particularly if a severance package or pay in lieu of notice makes taking a break both possible and affordable.
Got your own layoff story to tell? Share it with me through the contact form on my Web page at www.edtittel.com, and I may just share it with the readers of this blog. And just as my sympathies and best wishes go out to Tom, so also do they go out to all of us IT professionals who have to surmount this bump in the road of gainful employment.