It’s been a while since I last wrote here. The last time I wrote was shortly after I found a new job. Now it is time to come to terms with the past and write a few words about the new job.
I don’t get why people called it lay offs. Does it sound better when they tell the story to friends? Maybe it does. Maybe it’s easier to tell “I was laid off” than “I was fired”. I’m going to stick with “being fired”, mainly for one reason. I consider the term “layoffs” as a corporate newspeak that legitimate treating people like resources and rip them off humanity. Probably I’m overreacting a bit, but that’s the privilege of someone who was laid off. See? I wasn’t laid off. I was fired. And it destroyed me.
At the beginning I thought it doesn’t move me at all. I can’t complaint on my self-esteem level, I know what I can and what value I’m bringing to the company that decides to hire me. Besides that, I thought it’s going to take three, maybe four weeks until I find a new place. I was wrong, I was very wrong. It took four long months. And now I think I was lucky. I had some savings, the company has given me a severance package, and I was secured for about six months. I had an opportunity to get small short-term contact which could potentially prolonger this period for another four to six months. And my partner still had a job, which could cover basic needs. It wasn’t so bad after all, right? Who could have complained about a half year vacation?
I can’t even imagine what might experience someone younger, less confident, without basic needs secured. I sympathize with everyone who was fired, and I must admit here that I was on the other side: a few years ago I was the one who handing over notices to folks because a corporation decided to do so and I was their manager back then. I fired great people, now it happened to me. Call it karma, or circle of life but there’s nothing I can add here.
It turned out, that it’s not that easy. Lack of income isn’t the worst part of being fired. It’s a loss of sense of security. One day I was happy employee with fixed contract with no time constraint, and the second day I was not so happy un-employee. Those tens of thousands of folks being fired from big techs aren’t just numbers. They are names and faces. It’s a known truth that the mass is easier to accept than the individual. I have experienced it and it changed my thinking a lot. I didn’t lose my self-esteem but I did lose my belief that my competences, skills and achievements can defend me. They can’t, and in the end they even don’t matter. What matters is the Excel file somewhere on the other side of the world. Now I know. That’s being said, it touched me a lot. Those following months were terrible. One reason was what had happened to me and what I should have faced to. But the second reason was what was going to happen.
After a week of blissfully doing nothing, I decided it was time to start looking for a job. I didn’t know what to expect. I was lucky I didn’t wait any longer. There’s a lot of stories and advice out there about how to prepare your resume, how to approach the job search, and what to do to be liked by recruiters. I’m afraid most of it is bullshit. [There will be a longer, much longer blog post about how to find a job quickly, but I think it will be on my Polish blog as it’s more relevant to that market.] What worked for me was volume and persistence. I sent out over three hundred resumes and got a lot of rejections. Maybe it’s easier for younger people or those with clear hard skills like programming or design, but for me it was a nightmare. There was a lot of ghosting, a lot of exploitation (do this simple task that helps us solve a real business case), a lot of lies and insecurities on the other side that – obviously – prevent companies from hiring me. I’ve been managing teams for almost a decade, I can recognize the manager who is afraid when talking to me and rejects me with the reason that is clearly prepared to humiliate me.
And among those companies was the one I decided to join.
I wasn’t sure if this was the right job for me. The advertisement was short and laconic. But I knew the company and I thought I could give it a try, I liked what they did for artists, so why not?
Every conversation, every contact, every meeting with them convinced me that these were the people I wanted to work with. But there were other companies that talked to me because I didn’t have the privilege to complain and I had to talk to everyone and I decided to accept the offer of the first one. I liked ZAiKS, but I was afraid that they were too slow, that their pace was too slow compared to more modern and smaller tech companies.
But they were the first to decide to make me the offer. And I was happy to accept it. I was lucky, after four months of job hunting I got the offer from the company I liked the most.
I was wrong about its pace, it was slow, but it was also steady and efficient. I’m glad I was wrong.
How am I doing?
Life is unpredictable. That’s a truism. I don’t know how it will turn out and what will happen, but I have spent four weeks at ZAiKS and I can give you some first impressions. The work itself is meaningful in several ways. I need to feel a sense of purpose at work, otherwise I start to burn out. For now, my needs are being met and I can see the impact my work has on the organization and some people outside of it. Any struggles I’m facing are the ones I was warned about during the hiring process, and all the help I was promised is being delivered. I feel respected and supported, and that’s basically all I need at work. I can build the rest around me. There are some things I don’t want to talk about yet, not until I’m sure I’m not terribly wrong, and others I can’t talk about while I’m employed there, which I hope will be a long time. And that, I think, is the best assessment of my new job.
Being fired is terrible. Job hunting is terrible. The system just doesn’t work. Nothing explains treating people like resources, and nothing justifies managers in companies who have been over-hiring for years and are now firing people because they don’t know how to run their business. I’ve been on both sides and experienced both. And I still believe that those of us who hired and then fired these people were to blame for what happened. I thought I could understand the business decisions behind those actions, but I can’t. Employees aren’t responsible for lack of leadership or bad leadership or just stupid decisions by the management team. The market has changed? Who cares, it has changed for everyone and if the big company has cash flow problems, what can those who are individuals trying to survive in this wild and inhuman economy say?
The recruitment agencies and internal recruiters and hiring managers are another story. Such level of insecurities, making excuses and shifting the emotional burden to the candidate I haven’t seen… ever I think.
I’m very happy that I managed to thrive and found a new place, which by the way is an association, not a private company, and has been around for over a hundred years. It helps me to believe that it’s a good place to grow, to develop and simply – to live.