When Times are Tough

In the networking industry, which has for years struggled to attract sufficiently skilled personnel, the chances of being laid off were slim to none. In today's business climate, that's simply not true. Our stalwart expert explains what you can do in an environment where job cuts loom at every turn.

By Drew Bird | Posted Nov 8, 2001
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Late the other evening, I got a call from a friend of mine who had just escaped the latest round of layoffs at the company where he works. Like many others, his company has fallen foul of a shrinking economy and an uncertain financial future. What surprised me about the call was not that his company, a wealthy law firm with offices all over the world, was laying off employees, but rather that he was completely surprised about the layoffs.

In IT, many people seem to have adopted the tack of invincibility, believing that, in an industry that has for years struggled to attract sufficiently skilled personnel, the chances of being laid off are slim to none. In today's business climate, that's simply not true.

In good times, companies expand, in tough times they contract. While IT may not seem like the first place to make job cuts, high salaried IT workers make for ideal layoff candidates if the company is looking to reduce costs. Not only that, but in some cases IT employees can literally become victims of their own success when newly installed systems improve efficiency and reduce administrative overhead. I am not suggesting you do your job badly, that'll get you laid off in short order, job cuts or not.

So what can you do in an environment where job cuts threaten at every turn? The biggest consideration, obviously, is to be aware of what is happening. Denial is not a good thing, and if office rumors are spreading about possible layoffs, ignoring them altogether is an unwise move. Likewise is over-reacting. Now is not the greatest time to move jobs, and unless you are fairly sure of an impending layoff, staying put is often a far wiser strategy than going out into the job market and looking for a more 'secure' position. Even if companies in you area are still recruiting, and they probably are, the old system of 'last in, first out' still operates in many environments. If moving into a new position will make you 'last in' you might want to reconsider.

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