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 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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RIF Land - Tips from a (fomerly) Unemployed Guy

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

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