Tech layoffs happens

You’re Gonna Get Laid Off – Ask For A Severance Instead With Two Jobs

Most of the people in tech I know have been laid off. So, don’t fall into the trap of thinking layoffs won’t happen to you. The financial and emotional toll can be high if you’re not prepared. Ironically, having two jobs has allowed me to take more chances in life, like asking for a severance to leave my old job — thanks to my pal Sam from Financial Samurai. Layoffs for the win!

Survivors Run Before The Tsunami Hits

My first layoff happened nine months into my first job in tech. I witnessed about 20 engineers getting laid off during a business trip. Shortly after, I texted my boss. Guess what? He replied he and his boss, our director, were also getting laid off. Gut punch.

Fortunately, I got a free pass as a recent hire – another reason to have two jobs, at least seasonally when layoffs come around. I didn’t know much about tech at the time but I’d learn bi-annual cull would be a norm at my company. So, when the Pandemic hit, my spidery sense surmised we’d get axed again.

The good news is tech on the whole has created net new jobs out of all the creative destruction. The bad news is you’ll have to constantly stay ahead of the curve by developing new skills and run before the tsunami hits with a second job. With the Pandemic, skills like digital marketing, eCommerce, and machine learning are in demand ever more so. Here’s the kicker – a second job not only provides financial security but allows you to hone new skills at the same time.

Always Be Developing Marketable Skills

I met up with my director who got laid off and learned he landed another role at a well-known tech company. The whole saga worked in his favor due to his two decades of experience in a very specialized field. However, he still had a tough time adjusting mentally since he has been with the company his entire adult working life. What really rubbed him raw was the business was doing good, so no one saw a mass layoff coming. It was done purely for optimizing costs to the business. So, never assume you’re indispensable.

Thankfully my director’s skills were in demand. I started interviewing too but didn’t get any job offers initially. I learned I needed more experience to increase my market value, so I started volunteering for projects just to put some sought-after experiences on the old resume. I even negotiated with my new boss to pay for a scrum certification in the guise of better job performance. And when I finally did get job offers, I decided to go into a different function and industry to diversify my skills and experience. My learnings accelerated, the side effects of a two-job synergy.

Have An Exit Plan

Like any good party, it is important to recognize when the music will stop. As you grow your skills and make yourself more marketable, it’s time to plan for the next job.

Sometimes, the best plan is just that – a plan. My original intention of working two jobs was to prophylactically get ahead of the upcoming layoff. Ironically, when the layoff came, I got excited about being chosen to get some free money on my way out.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get selected to be laid off, nor did I want to openly declare myself to be a prime candidate (sorry colleagues) since there was uncertainty if the upcoming RSUs will get vested in a layoff. Better play it safe and stay quiet.

At the time of this writing, I’ve been doing two jobs for about five months. I decided to keep going and play it by ear until my next RSU vest since my lifestyle hasn’t changed much due to the Pandemic. I start work around 8:00 am and end at 5:00 pm. I get to earn $28K in gross salary (before taxes) each month, with the added benefits of taking risks I’d normally not take at each job and learning new skills. And if I do get fired from both jobs, I’ve earned enough to take the rest of 2021 off to start a business and look for a new job. The way I see it, the extra income is seed capital for the next great big adventure, like starting this blog.

As my two-job adventure continues, my plan is to land a fully remote job with a startup to replace my soon-to-return-to-in-person old job. My hours might get crazy, but then again, this game is the surest thing in town I’ve come across. Hold one steady remote job at a public company while moonlighting at a high-growth startup. I’ll update this post again in six months with my discovery.

Key Takeaways

If you work in tech, layoffs are going to happen. Don’t fall into complacent thinking, that you’re indispensable or you’re a performer so won’t be laid off. You’ll regret it if you do.

Instead, you need an intelligence network to help you keep tabs on the job market – relationships with your alumni, colleagues, friends, and recruiters (yes, they’re the best, especially if they’re also a friend). This also helps you get advance warnings of any upcoming layoffs, which affords you time to prepare.

More importantly, you should always be developing marketable skills, or look for opportunities to do so. An alternative is to have two jobs is to side hustle or consult on UpWork and LinkedIn. I’d argue even Uber/Lyft driving helps you develop some skills and cracks open the serendipitous door.

Finally, always have an exit plan. I’d build in checkpoints to make go-no-go decisions in life and career – in that order. And always have a fallback if Plan A fails. That’s why I bought Financial Sam’s How To Engineer Your Layoff and read it front to back twice!

In the next post, you’ll learn how to become an ideal remote two-job candidate and get ahead of layoffs.

2 comments

  1. Hi! Would you mind if I share your blog with my zynga group?
    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content.
    Please let me know. Many thanks

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