Former Microsoft Worker Blogs About Being Laid Off – How Not to Handle Unemployment

Jerry Berg decided that the best way to deal with a layoff was to make a 20 minute video ( http://bit.ly/1oouacX ) lamenting how terrible it is to be laid off after 15 years at Microsoft. I personally feel for him as I’ve been laid off twice since the 2008 financial crisis. While his emotions are understandable, putting them out there in a public video was a bad choice.

This is what I think he should have done.

  1. Thank Microsoft for 15 years of work. Jerry acknowledges that it was a great run but can’t resist accusing Microsoft of not placing him somewhere else or appreciating his talent. Saying “thank you but” erases the thank you.
  2. Thank Microsoft for severance. Many people find themselves laid off with no severance. Going on about how he will try to monetize his blogging won’t get a lot of sympathy from those who can’t afford to indulge themselves.
  3. Thank Microsoft for the insurance. Jerry has a special needs child, and the insurance Microsoft provided paid for his therapy. Jerry spends time lamenting what will happen instead of reading his COBRA packet that would tell him he can continue the same insurance if he pays the COBRA premiums after his paid coverage ends.
  4. Let the world know that a fantastic QA professional is on the market. He should have used his video to mainly emphasize that he was looking forward to his next career opportunity. While he does do that, he negates it by using the video to criticize Microsoft. Most severance agreements have non-disparagement/non-defamation clauses. His comments are treading close. Does anyone really want to tangle with Microsoft lawyers over a severance agreement?
  5. Use the insurance to see a counselor. When people tell me they cannot find a job, the problem often is they are not over their last job loss. A PRIVATE counseling session is the appropriate place to deal with job loss frustrations.
  6. Take positive steps to get a job. Instead of building his network, Jerry is blogging. At the time of this writing, Jerry Berg’s LinkedIn account had 131 connections. I wonder how many are recruiters?
  7. Take ownership of your own career. Microsoft does not own anyone a career or lifetime employment. It is up to you to manage it. He is moving in the right direction by exploring iOS, Android, and open source. Forget Microsoft and move on.


I wish all the former Microsoft people the best. You will find new employment and move on.

Views: 453

Tags: Microsoft, laid, off, unemployment

Comment by Anna Brekka on August 5, 2014 at 11:36am

It’s tough to be laid off, absolutely. But to your point 5 – it’s so true you are not ready for the next gig if you are still harping on and on about your former employer. As a past hiring manager that in itself has been reason for not getting a job on my team.  Once you are ready to talk future, then you are ready to go back to work. 

Comment by Linda Ferrante LoCicero on August 6, 2014 at 10:01am

When someone loses their job, I encourage them to NOT reach out to ANYONE yet.  Take the time to grieve, get your 'story' together and reach out strategically.  The worst thing you can do is call your best and most immediate contacts and go on and on about how you were let go.  

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on August 6, 2014 at 1:41pm

Well-said, all. It is for such reasons I advocate employees to "unlease their 'Inner CEOs'":

Grab all the money, benies, power, swag, training, contacts, etc. you can while you're there,

and then get the hell outta Redmond before it all comes crashing down-either on you, on them, or both.

No Cheers,

Keith

Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on August 6, 2014 at 1:52pm

I too have been laid off and it does suck, especially when the economy is in sucky shape.

It's a sad situation for Jerry and the rest of those affected, but you're right, Bert, there are far more productive activities he could be doing right now. Publicly complaining about an employer of 15 years seems a bit extreme. Venting is fine and understandable, but perhaps keep it offline. 

Comment by Tiffany Branch on August 19, 2014 at 1:24pm

@Linda...I wholeheartedly agree. When I was an outplacement consultant, I had a guy in some of my seminars who was soo negative, they had to pull him from the "regular" program and refer him for special counseling. He was holding on so hard he couldn't even begin to move forward with an effective job search.

Comment by Maisha Cannon on August 22, 2014 at 9:32pm

Bert,

Good blog, I just checked out his video. Really interesting how social media has become a sort of therapeutic center of sorts. I hope it all works out for him.

Linda - I love your advice about going into hibernation, and putting some time and space between the event and the public unveiling to get your story together.

I do recall a phone screening once with a recently laid off worker who was still clearly reeling from the sudden loss. It was hard to get the information I needed from her during that call, and I was saddened to think that all of her initial phone screenings would end up being vent sessions.

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