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Author Topic: The Unsettling Feeling of Work Lulls [Update: Laid Off]  (Read 551 times)
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Ridah
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« on: February 19, 2014, 08:15:12 PM »

Many of you have probably experienced a work lull, or otherwise significant downtime, at one point or another in your careers. Not counting unemployment.  

I've been working as Business Analyst at my current company for a little over 2 years now. However, in light of being possibly (80% likelihood) acquired by another company, we're shedding some of the fat and all of my projects were part of that fat. My manager and a co-worker got laid off, but they were far-removed from the company's core, working in a satellite office in LA (home office is in San Francisco, where I'm located).

There's still work for me in closing out two projects that used to take up 80% of my time, but as they come to a close I'm stuck in a lull until new projects come around (which are not guaranteed but are expected). It doesn't take more than 2-3 hours of my 8 hour day to get my work done, so I'm left looking for extracurricular activities and web surfing to pad the time.

I don't expect to be laid off, my new manager has suggested working with the QA department to become familiarized with our core product by QA testing it, so that when we land a new project that is expected to start soon, I can be assigned to it and hit the ground running. That's a good sign, but in the meantime it's a very unsettling feeling to not have much to do (even with the QA stuff).

I've begun sending out my resume and taking interviews, I'd rather join a new company than wait around to see if I get laid off at this one. But it's certainly an uncomfortable position to be in right now.

Has anyone else experienced this?
« Last Edit: February 20, 2014, 09:47:31 PM by Ridah » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2014, 11:26:30 PM »

During the years that I worked in PC game development, the workload was project-driven and very uneven -- and not always predictable, either, as corporate would occasionally kill a project unexpectedly. There was always at least a brief lull (and sometimes a lengthy one) after a game went gold. And head count was routinely reduced as well. You knew that most of the testers were going to be gone, but you never knew who else they were going to sweep away while they were at it.

Being a game company, we were expected to use these down periods "doing market research" -- that is, playing games.
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« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2014, 12:57:23 AM »

Every now and then my boss asks me something like "are you busy enough?" or "do you have enough to do?"  This always sets me into a bit of a panic.  Why are you asking this?  Do you think I should be doing more?  How about you just go ahead and tell me how much you think I should be doing.
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rittchard
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« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2014, 01:12:45 AM »

I've been in the engineering work force for over 15 years now at 5 different companies, and every job I've worked has had lulls to some degree or another.  You can pretty much directly correlate the number or depth of posts on this or other forums to each lull lol.  It doesn't matter how crazy or busy things might get at one given time, a lull could be just around the corner.  My latest job was just crazy with activity non-stop for months and months, then all of a sudden a while ago it kind of just petered out.

Having been through it so many times, you'd think I would get used to it and know how to handle it well mentally/emotionally.  For the most part, that's been the case.  But I've found it can definitely become very depressing/debilitating if it is prolonged or accompanied by rumors of layoffs.  So I'd advise to be cautious but try to remain optimistic.  Sounds like you are already preparing for the worst by taking interviews, so you are ahead of the game in that respect.

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Lee
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« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2014, 01:18:30 AM »

Quote from: wonderpug on February 20, 2014, 12:57:23 AM

Every now and then my boss asks me something like "are you busy enough?" or "do you have enough to do?"  This always sets me into a bit of a panic.  Why are you asking this?  Do you think I should be doing more?  How about you just go ahead and tell me how much you think I should be doing.

There were two reasons I would ask an employee this. The most likely is because they seem to be goofing off, don't seem busy. Of course, in those cases I asked in a sarcastic tone, they knew why I was asking. The second, is a really good employee who seems bored and I am worried about keeping them happy, challenged.
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Caine
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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2014, 04:12:33 AM »

This is my current existence and has been for at least the last 3 months.  I work support for a lab environment testing apps.  my support role is for the machines testing, not the apps themselves so once we moved to regular retail machines, a lot of the workload dropped as they are far more stable.  plus, our hosting environment stabilized, plus the testing requirements dropped.  all this on top of reduced staffing and lower volumes of apps tested.  basically, we went from a volatile environment to dead calm in 6 months.  in that time, we've had about a dozen early dismissal days as management recognizes how little we have to do and a end of year re-organization that hasn't solidified down at our level, so all larger projects came to a stand still while we wait for directions. 

you can definitely see the effects as my post counts have risen almost to ceekay levels and if you knew how much netflix I've watched you'd be shocked it wasn't the viewing habits of an unemployed insomniac. 

I have only committed myself to stay here through the end of March as our last big event for the foreseeable future is happening this week, but I really have nothing keeping me invested here. 
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Ridah
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« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2014, 09:47:08 PM »

Yikes, I was just notified that I'm being laid off and my last day is on March 7th. I suppose I sensed it coming  paranoid The good news is they're providing me four weeks of severance, plus I'm being paid out for 75 hours of PTO, so I have some breathing room. Still, with my wedding in June I have almost no savings to fall back on once the severance dries up.

Like I mentioned earlier, I've already begun sending out my resume and taking interviews. I'm reaching out to my connections right now and applying to places I have a personal reference at. If anyone has any connections in the SF Bay Area, my experience is primarily in Business/Data Analysis, Product Management, Program/Project Management, and of course I write for GT so I could pick up writing gigs.

Emotionally I'm in good shape. I know that being laid off can take a big emotional toll on people, but I've been ready to move on from this company for a while and I know it's not necessarily related to my performance, so I'm not feeling too down about it. My only fear is not finding a job in the next 4-6 weeks, I don't want any gaps in my income, especially with a wedding right around the corner.

I need some advice about my bonus - I was supposed to get a bonus in April, but you have to be employed at the company when the bonuses get paid so now I'm not getting it. I worked the entire year and earned a bonus, but they're laying me off like 3 weeks before the actual payout, so now I don't get it. Does that sound fishy to you guys? Any advice on how to push back?
« Last Edit: February 20, 2014, 09:49:11 PM by Ridah » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2014, 09:50:37 PM »

Damn, sorry to hear that.  I'll check my company's Bay Area job listings and let you know if I see anything.

As for the bonus, I'm no expert but I think you're out of luck.  My company often fires people right after the annual review period, which coincidentally happens just prior to the annual bonus period.
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« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2014, 10:49:35 PM »

wow, that's lame that they did that Ridah.  I'd be annoyed if they pulled such a move so obviously.  As Pug says, I don't think you have much of an option to force the bonus but in their eyes, they are fulfilling the agreement as stated. 

as to the layoff, congratuldolences are in order I think.  it sucks losing your job like that, but it can be a good thing if you were in a lull.  it can be hard to get motivated to find another job if you are comfortably numb.
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« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2014, 10:52:23 PM »

I got laid off twice by a small newspaper company in August and November 1991.

Our staff was dumb not to see the warning signs. Our company president and publisher had started asking us to wait a couple days before we cashed our bi-weekly paychecks (pre-direct deposit era). Warning sign.  Roll Eyes  And various people heard rumblings about our move to a new office park perhaps not being the best financial move. We moved from a ratty, crummy, smelly but cheap building to a spiffy, clean, new, probably outrageously expensive to lease building. And somehow our mostly young (mid-upper 20s) staff just had no clue whatsoever, especially me.

So when the publisher called me (assistant editor), the associate editor, the sports editor, and the photographer into his office and told us he was letting us go and to clear out our desk that same night (a production night for our then twice-a-week newspaper), we were just bowled over. At least, I was.  icon_eek Our editor had already gotten his walking papers and left, and they kept one veteran reporter, she was devastated.

I'd only had a week or so to process it when the same publisher called me and asked me back, saying he needed someone who knew how to layout the paper. Some months later they concluded I wasn't creative enough because, well, I only knew how to layout the paper the way the previous editor taught me to. I wasn't "creative" enough.  Roll Eyes I kept my job for a while but they added reporter duties (always I've been a better writer than editor, a problem with me to this day). The creative guy they hired was, to me, a lazy "do nothing" who liked to twiddle his thumbs at his desk waiting for his creative "muse" to hit him, while I continued to do a lot of thankless grunt editorial work he declined to "dirty his hands" with.

Then the week before Thanksgiving 1991, the publisher called me one evening at home. I had covered a school board mid afternoon meeting and went home, planning to return to the office to write a story. He informed me he was laying off me, the new editor, the ad director (the ad director was not a wimp like me, and apparently threatened a lawsuit over his layoff) and some others. I naively offered to return to the office to write a final story, and he informed they were changing the door lock combinations as he spoke.  disgust He asked me to wait a day before returning to clean out my desk, so I took a box in on a Thursday, said some melancholy goodbyes to a few editorial and production staffers. They still retained the veteran reporter, who bid me a tearful goodbye.

I did finally land a job, but it took until April of the following year. Got a few week's unemployment which I then blew by turning down a job at another newspaper because it appeared to be equally screwed up. The previous person in the job had gotten a job at a paper I previously worked at, and she urged me to not work there.

I digress. You don't care about all that crap I know.  icon_smile My only lesson from that aging (23 years ago, can't believe it!) experience is yes, by golly, if you have the slightest inkling your company's in trouble, or wants to flip things upside down, then check in with any pals/contacts who might have job openings (LinkedIn can be helpful if used right), post your resume on sites you think will have matching job postings, etc. Don't wait, and don't think, "Oh, it'll work out." If you hear rumblings, something is probably going to happen and always better to be prepared.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2014, 10:54:05 PM by Blackjack » Logged

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rittchard
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« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2014, 11:08:07 PM »

Damn that sucks!  Hope things work out for the best...

If you open up your search to LA, let me know; I saw a few openings at my company that looked interesting.
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« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2014, 11:56:24 PM »

Damn, sorry Ridah.

I also think you're out of luck on the bonus.  My dad just got hit with the same thing (nothing like getting laid off at 68  Roll Eyes) and he's going to be out a huge bonus from last year's performance.  They've basically told him "tough shit".
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« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2014, 12:42:34 AM »

1) You should at least ask about the bonus thing. When my former employer did severance, they did it including the bonus. Sadly I was not given that package, but it was a pretty sweet deal.

2) If you have any software or network security background, drop me a line. I'll see what's out there.
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« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2014, 06:35:26 AM »

Dang, sorry to hear about the layoff, Ridah!  Good luck finding something new.  It sounds like you were plenty ready to move on anyway so just take this as good motivation for that. 
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« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2014, 02:18:52 PM »

I know it sounds hokey and corny, but when one door closes another door opens.  It sounds like you have a decent skill set so I'm betting the unemployment length will be a mighty short one!
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Ridah
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« Reply #15 on: February 22, 2014, 02:12:58 AM »

Thanks for the support, everyone!

Caine, what you said about being comfortably numb is so true. In a way I'm feeling very liberated and awash with a sense of freedom that I haven't felt in a long time. While I was grateful for my job, I hated it most of the time. My commute was nearly 2 hours each way, I didn't like my boss, the business itself is completely uninteresting to me. It was excellent experience, but it's time to find something that makes more sense to me (not to mention closer to home).

Is anyone interested or feel up to the task of critiquing my resume?
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Sean Lama
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