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RIF Land - Tips from a (fomerly) Unemployed Guy

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"RIF Land: Tips from a (formerly) Unemployed Guy" is a presentation made to help my friends at my old company who were about to be "Reduced in Force" (RIF). Since I had been unemployed for a few …

"RIF Land: Tips from a (formerly) Unemployed Guy" is a presentation made to help my friends at my old company who were about to be "Reduced in Force" (RIF). Since I had been unemployed for a few months, I had some useful tips to share, which I hoped would make the whole nasty experience a little less scary.

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  • 1. Life in RIF Land Tips from a (formerly) Unemployed Guy John Takao Collier 2009/05/31 Version © 2009 John Takao Collier
  • 2. Who Am I?
    • John Takao Collier
    • Almost 20 years at Bell Labs/Lucent/ALU
    • 7 years at Motorola
    • Mostly doing 5ESS Development & Testing
    • RIFed in March 2009 with 90 day extension
    • Out the door in June
    • Off payroll in July
  • 3. Disclaimer
    • I’m just a (formerly) unemployed guy
    • For the official word, contact the official orgs
      • HR, Pension, Unemployment office (IDES), etc.
    • I’m not yet retired, so I don’t know how a pension effects unemployment insurance
    • If my tips are so good, why don’t I have a job?
    • (I got a job – so maybe my tips are OK)
  • 4. What’s it Like being RIFed?
    • RIF = Reduction In Force, the new FMP
    • A little scary
    • A little exhilarating (I’m free! I’m free!)
    • Annoying paperwork (RIF stuff, Finances, Unemployment, etc.)
    • Not the end of the world
    • Take a deep breath
    • Being unemployed is a full time job
  • 5. A Few Pre-RIF Things
    • Get a home computer & ISP
    • Get non-work email account (gmail?)
    • Email forwarding? (e.g., pobox.com)
    • Get info on references (References 101)
    • Get info for resume (Resume 101)
    • Increase cash inflow (stop 401K contribution)?
    • Open bank line of credit?
    • Determine left-over vacation
  • 6. Finances
    • Figure out your budget
    • Figure out where “hidden” money is
      • Bank line of credit
      • Borrow against life insurance
      • School free lunches/fee waivers
      • Utility assistance programs e.g. LIHEAP
  • 7. Severance – Post Employment Payment (PEP)
    • Send in the original form (not a copy) right AFTER going off payroll (exception – may want to wait a little for tax reasons)
    • Consider sending via registered mail
    • May be direct deposit, may be a check
    • I got mine 20 days after mailing in form
    • Flat tax rate for federal, state taxes
  • 8. Health Insurance
    • Know RIF package coverage
      • ALU will bill you monthly for your contribution
      • May be able to continue or drop HCRA
    • Open enrollment affects post-RIF benefits
    • Know COBRA coverage
    • Consider COBRA versus outside individual health insurance
    • Don’t overlook IL’s “All Kids” for children
  • 9. Unemployment Insurance
    • Can be up to $511/week (base + dependant) in IL
    • You get 1 (and only 1) dependant
    • 26 weeks
    • Must be actively looking for a job
    • Must document your job search
    • Job search = emails, phone calls, applications…
  • 10. When should you file?
    • After being notified of the RIF (i.e., you still have 30 days on payroll)?
    • After going off payroll?
    • Answer: Unclear to me.
    • Heard that the 30 days was considered “Severence Pay” and wouldn’t impact
    • However, also heard otherwise
    • So, contact IDES!
  • 11. Filing for Unemployment
    • Illinois Dept. of Employment Security (IDES)
    • Can fill out form at IDES offices
    • Can fill out at web site
    • http://www.ides.state.il.us/
    • And now, a quick tour of the web site…
  • 12.  
  • 13.  
  • 14.  
  • 15.  
  • 16.  
  • 17. Unemployment Tips
    • Debit card vs. Direct Deposit
    • Don’t panic – dependant pay is separate
    • Don’t panic – “Nasty Looking” letter
    • Must certify every two weeks by phone (Teleserve)
    • Need to look at IL Skills Match every 2 weeks
    • Best not to call during lunch (up to 2 pm)
    • Often get busy signal. Try again.
    • Online filing question that defies logic
  • 18. Question That Defies Logic
    • False answers will be prosecuted!
    • Do you live with your spouse and contribute over ½ of the cost of your children?
    • Do you NOT live with your spouse and contribute over ½ of the cost of your children.
    • Punch line: Answer “Yes” to one question, must answer “No” to the other.
  • 19. What if I get other money?
    • For example, part time job, etc.
    • Pension (?)
    • Dependant pay not touched
    • Can earn up to 50% of base unemployment
    • After that, you earn a dollar, they take a dollar
    • Based on when earned, not when paid
    • http://www.ides.state.il.us/uidocs/bis/wba_determination.pdf
  • 20. Example
    • Assume base unemployment = $300/week
    You earn… IDES pays… Total $0 $300 $300 $150 $300 $450 $151 $299 $450 $299 $151 $450 $300 $150 $450 $301 $150 $451 $400 $150 $550
  • 21. Money for Training
    • Could be up to $7000 (I think)
    • Illinois WorkNet
    • DuPage Career Center (next to Lisle campus)
    • Submit application at DuPage Career Center or by phone
    • Could be up to 20+ days before “Intake Appt”
    • Then you see a counselor
  • 22. Other Training Options
    • Consider taking some classes
    • For example, I took a Java class at COD
    • However, the $$$ come out of my pocket
    • COD library has a great selection of books on computer topics
    • There are always tutorials that you can find on the Internet
    • 6 Sigma Green Belt Training
  • 23.  
  • 24. Babylon 5 and Job Searches
    • Who are you?
    • What do you want?
    • Why are you here?
    • Where are you going?
  • 25. What’s Your Brand?
    • YOU are the product now
    • YOU are now in marketing and sales
    • Why are you so special?
    • How are you different from the rest of the herd?
    • You’ve got to find your customers
    • You’ve got to sell to your customers
    • Yeah, yeah, I know, engineers hate marketing and selling. Suck it up and deal with it. You might actually have some fun.
  • 26. Resume 101
    • What did YOU do?
    • What have YOU done that…
      • Improved the product?
      • Improved time to market?
      • Was innovative?
      • Saved the universe?
    • Can you quantify? (E.g., “I saved $10 zillion”)
    • Look at my resume for an example. Please don’t laugh.
  • 27. References 101
    • Ask people if they will be your reference
    • Get this info…
      • Name
      • Phone
      • Email
      • How and when they would like to be contacted
      • What their relationship is to you
    • Give your references your resume
  • 28. If you are asked for references…
    • Contact your references
    • Give them info on…
      • The company
      • The position you are applying for
    • Coach your references on what they might emphasize
    • This is one of the few things you can control, so use it to your advantage
  • 29. Elevator Speech 101
    • Hi, I’m X.
    • Most recently I worked at Y where I was responsible for Z.
    • While there I also did A and B.
    • I’m currently looking at opportunities in blah, blah, blah.
    • Look at my example elevator speeches
  • 30. Elevator Speech 202
    • Another tactic I’ve been told might work better…
    • “ Wow ‘em” with a opening statement so that you’ll be remembered
    • Example: “I won the ugly bald guy contest 3 years running!”
  • 31. Job Networking 101
  • 32. Job Networking 101 (cont.)
    • Tell everybody
      • Neighbors, Friends, Relatives
      • Current Colleagues, Former Colleagues
      • Real Estate Agent, Barber, Dog Groomer
      • Friends of your spouse/partner
      • Neighborhood kids
    • Nothing to be ashamed about. RIFs happen.
  • 33. Job Networking 101 (cont.)
    • Job Clubs
      • Wheaton Executive Network (WEN)
      • St. Thomas Job Ministry - Naperville
      • Naperville Community Center
      • DuPage Career Center - Lisle
      • Tri-City Unemployment Group (TUG) – St. Charles
    • Many more job clubs “out there”
  • 34. Job Networking 101 (cont.)
    • Professional Organizations (e.g., Chicago Uniforum, etc.)
    • Social Organizations
    • Alumni Organizations
    • Social Networking sites (e.g., LinkedIn.com)
    • Emails lists (BNC_Chicago, WEN, Job Clubs, etc.)
  • 35. Job Networking 101 (cont.)
    • Consider spending 80% of your time on networking
    • Engineers typically aren’t fun at parties and hate networking
    • Suck it up and deal with it
    • Networking is a 2-way street…
      • You are hoping other people will help you
      • Help yourself by helping other people
  • 36.
    • A handbill is something that you take to job clubs and/or info meetings
    • Usually one page
    • Has a condensed version of resume info
    • States what you are looking for (“What do you want?”)
    • States target companies
    • Look at my example handbill
    Handbills 101
  • 37. Information Meeting 101
    • A 30 minute meeting with someone in a company/industry that interests you
    • You want…
      • Information about the company
      • Advice
      • A couple of other references
    • Gets your foot in the door and your face known (hopefully, this is a good thing). 
  • 38. Information Meeting 101 (cont.)
    • Do NOT ask for a job
      • This lowers the pressure
    • Get to know the “inside scoop”
    • Start with people you know and work your way up the food chain
    • These can actually be fun
    • Send a “Thank You”
  • 39. Job Web Sites 101
    • Dice.com – Targeted to tech jobs
    • Monster.com
    • CareerBuilder.com
    • ComputerJobs.com
    • Many others, make sure they are legit
    • Reduce your spam...
      • Strip phone, address, email from resume
      • Set up so that profile phone, etc. not shown
  • 40. Job Web Sites 101 (cont.)
    • Don’t expect the world to come knocking at your door
    • However, if you have a strong niche, a small chunk of the world might come knocking
    • Update resume periodically (every 2 weeks?)
    • Bottom feeders crawl up out of the slime
    • Consider setting up RSS feeds
  • 41.  
  • 42.  
  • 43.  
  • 44. Job Search Aggregators
    • www.indeed.com
    • www.simplyhired.com
    • Gathers job postings from Dice, Monster, Companies career sites, etc.
    • Geographic region search (e.g., zip code)
    • RSS feeds
    • VERY handy
  • 45. LinkedIn.com
    • Social networking sites…
      • MySpace – “Hanna Montana is so cool!”
      • FaceBook – “Where’s the beer bash?”
      • LinkedIn – “How can I find a contact at Google?”
    • Generally considered the most “professional” of the social networking sites
    • Architected for low spam levels
  • 46. LinkedIn.com (cont.)
    • You can…
      • Connect with colleagues, friends, etc.
      • Find someone you may want to connect to
      • Ask/answer questions
      • Make/request recommendations
      • Look for jobs
      • Join “Groups”
      • Market yourself via your LinkedIn profile
  • 47. LinkedIn.com (cont.)
    • Can set up RSS feeds
      • Network Updates
      • Q&A
      • Not jobs (sob!)
    • Best of all, it’s free! (Unless you upgrade)
  • 48.  
  • 49.  
  • 50.  
  • 51.  
  • 52.  
  • 53. LinkedIn Profile
    • Most people don’t…
      • Add a Photo
      • Write a Summary
      • Include useful experience data (can snarf from resume)
      • Tell people what they are “working on”
      • Change “Public Profile” to mnemonic URL
    • So, stand out from the herd and do those things!
  • 54. LinkedIn Public Profile
    • Allows your profile to be in search engines
    • Gives you a handy URL that can be added to…
      • Resume
      • Handbill
      • Business cards
      • Email signatures
    • Mine is… http://www.linkedin.com/in/johntakaocollier
  • 55.  
  • 56. LinkedIn Email Address
    • If you already have a LinkedIn account, and…
    • This account is associated with your work email, then…
    • Don’t forget to associate the LinkedIn acct with an non-work email address
    • REASON – If you don’t, then people can’t easily connect with you via LinkedIn!
  • 57.  
  • 58.  
  • 59.  
  • 60. Job Fairs
    • Hit or miss
    • Dice.com has targeted tech fairs
    • Monster.com has non-tech fairs
    • Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald sponsor
    • Universities (lots of employers)
    • I haven’t found a good way to find what’s local
  • 61. Recruiters
    • The good, the bad and the ugly
    • The good…
      • Used by former colleagues who landed
      • Retained recruiters
    • Help the good ones by suggesting quality candidates
    • What about the bad and the ugly?
      • I say ignore ‘em
  • 62. Business Cards
    • OfficeMax, Office Depot, etc.
    • Can get “free” cards at www.vistaprint.com
      • Free cards get a little VistaPrint ad on back
      • Has a pretty good card building wizard
  • 63. Phone Interview 101
    • Most companies pre-screen via phone interviews nowadays
    • You might have multiple phone interviews with both HR and technical people
    • Consider getting a hands free headset
    • Software job interviews – might get coding quizes
  • 64. Scheduling the Phone Interview
    • Probably dealing with an HR person via phone or email – be nice to them
    • Give a list of possible dates & times
    • If possible, push out a few days (for research!)
    • Double check date & time (especially around DST changes)
    • Make sure understood who calls whom
    • Make sure they have your phone number
  • 65. Before the Phone Interview
    • Research company, products
    • Look up the interviewer on Google, LinkedIn
    • Look up stuff on Wikipedia
    • Maybe even brush up on topic via library books
    • Alert your references
  • 66. Just before the interview
    • Gather materials (phone, clipboard, pen, resume, glass of water, whatever)
    • Go to a quiet room
    • Get rid of distractions (dog, cat, kids, terrorists, etc.)
    • Take a deep breath
  • 67. During the phone interview
    • Use last name (e.g., “Mr. Smith”, “Ms. Doe”) unless interviewer says OK to use first name
    • Use some “hook” to build quick rapport
    • Smile and walk around – you’ll sound better and be more relaxed
    • Let interviewer talk
    • Take notes
    • Thank interviewer at end
  • 68. After the interview
    • Gather and organize notes
    • Send “Thank You” note – probably have to go through the HR person
    • If you don’t hear back in 7 to 10 days, follow up with polite inquiry
    • When you get the thumbs up/down, send a “Thank You” note to both interviewer and HR person
  • 69. A Few Other Things
    • You’ll be home more
    • Your spouse/partner/kids will be tripping over you more – discuss with them and work it out
    • Job fairs, job clubs - chance to get out
    • Beware of becoming a job club junkie
    • Job Talk Radio, Thu, 4 – 5 pm, 1530 AM, www.drivestaff.com/jobtalk
    • Thank the people who help you
  • 70. Good vs. Bad Luck
    • “ Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things” by Richard Wiseman
    • Two experiments…
      • Newspaper ad, scan for photos
      • 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon
    • People with “good luck” make their own luck
      • Scan environment for opportunities
      • Increase your network
  • 71. Conclusion
    • Get your paperwork squared away
    • Tighten the belt a little (budget)
    • Who are you? What do you want?
    • Market, market, market
    • Network, network, network
    • Get on LinkedIn.com
    • Help yourself by helping others
    • Don’t kick your dog
  • 72. Questions from John
    • Was this talk useful?
    • Or, was it a waste of time?
    • What should be added/modified/deleted?
    • Should I give this talk again?
    • Am I the coolest bald guy you ever met?
    • OK, now it’s time for your Q&A…
  • 73. Good Luck, my friends!
  • 74. Appendix A - URLs
    • http://www.linkedin.com
    • http://www.ides.state.il.us/
    • http://www.illinoisskillsmatch.com/
    • http://www.worknetdupage.org/
    • http://www.dice.com/
    • http://www.monster.com
    • http://www.careerbuilder.com/
  • 75. Appendix A – URLs (cont.)
    • http://www.indeed.com/
    • http://www.simplyhired.com/
    • http://www.vistaprint.com/
    • http://www.drivestaff.com/jobtalk/
    • http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/BNC_Chicago/