Layoff anxiety

I’ve been an IBM employee for a year now; the beginning of May was my anniversary. I hope I will still be one a month from now. But that may not be the case.
The Wall Street Journal and other news sources are reporting that IBM will announce layoffs in its U.S. operations later this month. I’ve been expecting something like this. Technology companies are not doing especially well right now, and IBM’s earnings for the first quarter were disappointing. The stock price has fallen, and investors want to see evidence that costs are being cut. The traditional response is a layoff.
If my team is affected, it seems inevitable that I’ll be the one to go. I was the last one hired, and even after a year of acclimation, I’m still not as effective as my colleagues who have been here longer. Letting me go would be the logical thing to do. I can only cross my fingers and hope my team won’t be affected.
When I was laid off from Alcatel a year ago, I found a new job almost immediately. But I was very lucky: I had a brother already working at IBM who was in a position to put my resume in the hands of the right person at exactly the moment when a position opened up. That sort of thing is not likely to happen again, and job prospects in the current market are pretty grim.
But if it comes to that, I’ll find something. I always do. I’ve spent most of my technical writing career as a contractor, and that experience has taught me that any job can end without warning, whether it’s “permanent” or not. (In fact, my five-year stint at Alcatel was arguably the most permanent job I’ve ever had, even though it was a contract.) You just have to suck it up and hit the street the next day as a full-time job hunter.
In theory, it’s better to have a little warning that something like this is going to happen. But in practice, there’s not much you can do about it except worry. I’ve been laid off without warning before, and I actually prefer it that way. At least it’s over quickly and you can move on.
Well, if I didn’t want to know about this, I guess I had no business reading the Wall Street Journal. Nothing to do now but update my resume and then try to think of other things until the announcement comes. Either way, life will go on.

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