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This chapter is from the book

Summary: What’s The Worst That Can Happen?

Of course, you could implement all ten of these strategies and still find yourself out of work. There are plenty of reasons why layoffs occur that have nothing to do with you. You could just find yourself on the bench at the wrong time, when management is looking to cut costs. Indeed, a certain amount of luck is involved in surviving downturns, which is why I stress not only factors on the job, but factors that transcend your job, such as how you manage your finances.

So what options do you have if you find yourself laid off? Well, the good news is that during recessions, the time is often ripe for finding contract work. During a recession large companies often get mandated headcount reductions from their CFO (“cut 10 percent of all full time employees, and I don’t care how”). This does not mean the company stops doing business; it just means that there are going to be fewer employees. This scenario usually comes about the same time as the demand to “remove all contractors” comes about. However, the latter tends to be short-lived because individual directors tend to have budgets too, and most of them have some reasons to need technology projects done. So while full-time employees (FTEs) remain under tight control, there tend to be fewer controls around hiring individual contractors for short- to medium-term needs. In fact, economists usually look for this uptick in temporary help as a leading indicator that the economy is starting to improve because it happens well before companies start hiring salaried employees again.

And if that contracting work does not materialize? Well, there are always routes such as taking out a student loan to work on an MBA or some other advanced degree. Or, especially if you took the advice to have 12 months’ worth of savings or more ready and available, perhaps you can use the downtime to consider starting your startup or micro-ISV (Independent Software Vendor). The key is not to let yourself get into too much despair in this situation and do nothing while your skills rot. If nothing else, do something you should have been doing anyway, and do open source work. At least then you put some code out there, you stay sharp, and you prepare yourself for whatever interviews you can manage to get.

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