Seventy-Seven Days and Counting

That’s how long it’s been since I was laid off. Today was the 1st day I felt fear. Having worked for the same organization for close to 20 years I was not prepared for that July day to come, or at least not as prepared as I should have been.

I had an interesting role that straddled the line between analyst and developer. I could easily slip into each of those roles without missing a beat. Up until a few years ago we weren’t exactly using “cutting-edge” technologies and even in July when I left the organization, we had just scratched the surface with cloud implementations, big data and machine learning. We loved open source technologies so we didn’t typically implement best of breed applications but moreover ones we could customize to suit our specific circumstances and needs.

This was all great and for how we used it worked very well. What I should have been more cognizant of though was how would these translate outside of my organization? Are these tools and technologies that I’m working with valuable in today’s job market should I even find myself looking, but I didn’t ask those questions. There comes a point where I guess you just start to take your job for granted. Every year I get my review and every year I am told what a great asset I am to the organization, shale my bosses’ hand and start depositing an additional 3–5% in salary.

After 19 years this was my second home and my colleagues were my second family. I enjoyed (most days anyway) coming to work. I loved being the senior person on the team and being the “go to person” when it came to ETL, Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence Applications. I felt safe. I shouldn’t have. The past 11 weeks I have done all the things I should be doing, updating the resume, writing good cover letters, scanning the job boards and applying for jobs that match my skill set. I got a separation payment upon leaving the organization so had a little bit of a buffer and decided I’d take my time a bit to find not just any situation but the right situation for me and my family.

That mindset was fine for the first 6–8 weeks but now I am at 77 days out — with just a few interviews under my belt and no job offers. The money from unemployment doesn’t come close to matching my former salary and the bank account is rapidly dwindling away. Today for the 1st time since this all went down, I find myself afraid. Maybe I really didn’t have much value outside of the work I had done for my former employer. Maybe I was overpaid for what I did.

I am trying the best I can not to get too down on myself, but I am starting to feel like a failure. I feel like I am letting my family down. To some degree I feel a bit lost. I think the other thing that’s playing into this fear is my 50th birthday that is now less then 2 months away. Fifty years old and unemployed was not something I ever dreamed would happen but it’s approaching.

I know that there are millions of folks that have been thrown to the unemployment wolves and have survived and taken in perspective I know there are much worse situations I could find myself in, but at the moment all I feel is fear and uncertainty and it sucks, but I owe it to my wife and daughters to keep a stiff upper lip and persevere and just keep my fingers crossed that good things are right around the corner….so bring it on day 78. I’m ready for you.

A version of this post was previously published on Medium and is republished here with permission from the author.


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