Week 2, Day 1 : Happy Anniversary

I’ve been discovering in recent months,  Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. This quote I’ve stumbled upon is especially thought-provoking at the moment:

“The common experience is that man fits himself as well as he can to the customary details of that work or trade he falls into, and tends it as a dog turns a spit. Then is he part of the machine he moves; the man is lost. Until he can manage to communicate himself to others in his full stature and proportion, he does not yet find his vocation.”

Have I found my true vocation? That’s what I’ve got to find out. And so one week in, Happy Anniversary to me!, I have an appointment to find out about the service that Penna offers. And yes I am lucky to get access to a service like this as part of my redundancy package. A lot of people don’t.

It turns out to be a good meeting. The expectations I had turned out to pretty accurate. The nice lady I spoke to says she we pair me up with a career advisor for some 1:1 help. She’s a good listener and has some good advice straight off. It also feels good to be out having meetings with new people.

I have two themes in my head at the moment. One is a blue sky, step back, consider all options approach. The other is more practical and centres around planning what I need to find a job in a similar role and probably field.

She advises focusing on the planning and allowing myself some time to think about options so I don’t rush into work and leave myself with a nagging feeling that I should have taken the chance to work through it whilst I had the opportunity. I agree with her. I also asked whether I should dive into networking for a) practice and b) information gathering. She advises to work on the list of possible contacts and to hold off until I have planned what I want to get out of those conversations ( besides catching up with some old friends as well of course ). I think she is right here also.


Day 6: If yesterday was about writing, today is about reading

If yesterday was about writing, today is about reading. Again, plotting your next step is a little daunting and you can get easily distracted by other things like reading interesting articles about Amazon Web Services. One of my friends who has started his own company, now there’s an idea, thinks this is the best thing since sliced bread.

There’s also good news. Dr. M has pulled it out of the bag and managed to fit me in before the health insurance runs out and my face rots off. The HR lady had offered to look into whether they could extend the insurance a day or two which was very nice of her but this is a weight off. Plus the penny dropped the over the weekend that Dr. M and I have a mutual friend so that will be something to talk about when we catch up.

  • Emailed CV to HR, Requested Jira list and tech cheat sheet
  • Emailed CV to outplacement Firm. Planned travel to meeting tomorrow
  • Read article of the day how-to-get-your-interview-meeting and added notes to MindMap
  • Read through LifeWorks article on  ‘Getting Going on Your Job Search’
  • Made notes on:
    • ‘Identifying your skills and goals’
    • ‘Networking’
    • ‘Job Adverts’
  • Added my own review comments to my CV in Google docs.
  • Reviewed open roles sent by HR. Checked skills on interesting ones.
  • Had a serious think about working abroad.

So the last bullet was an interesting one.  A review of global IT jobs that HR sent me confirms what I knew already, all the interesting IT jobs are not in New York, London or Hong Kong, but Budapest (BP). Conceptually there is nothing stopping me applying for these jobs. Likewise, if I was to go after a similar job at the same Firm it would have to be in BP. Ironically there was even a role in the same somewhat niche business process I specialised in, although in a different division. Can’t say I’m not interested.

Big step? What a great excuse for an awfully big adventure. I was lucky enough to move to New Zealand  when I was seven. It was a great experience in my life. Jeez, I practically owe it to my kids to drag them to another country! Learn the Hungarian language, live in a vibrant beautiful city, rent out your house back home, have an adventure. It’s sounding like a great idea. A quick scan show’s schools and further education are covered. Plus I’ve been working with people in Budapest day to day for the last two years, and on and off for 4 or more? The reason Firms operate in Hungary is that it has a good education system and churns out lots of 1st class computer scientists. This is definitely something to THINK ABOUT.

Continue reading “Day 6: If yesterday was about writing, today is about reading”

Day 5: The CV

It’s Monday. The FIRST MONDAY. Bit disappointed to find that Sunday night still comes with a bit of “it’s Monday tomorrow” anxiety when you are unemployed. Feel it’s best to ESTABLISH A ROUTINE quickly. So start with STICKING TO THE ROUTINE. Up at 6 am to work out , do some chores and then start work by 9. Can’t you get up a bit later now” says the Wife. “No I blinkin’ can’t”. I’m too afraid of a slippery slope that ends up with me still in my pyjamas at lunchtime.

Nonetheless the normal routine seems to take longer than usual and when I finally find myself at my study desk I suddenly have an insatiable need to dust the shitake mushrooms out of it. I realise this is all a symptom of the dread surrounding writing The CV.

Fortunately Google docs have a reasonable template. On goes the Name and the Personal Details. There. We’re off. And that’s also about as far as I got on my 1st year Maths paper at Cambridge where I discovered the gap between state school maths and university was pretty much the same as that between an abacus and a computer.

Coffee. Post box. Chemist. COME! ON!

Continue reading “Day 5: The CV”

Day 4: Now I’m an archetypal cliche I might as well start a blog

I’m slightly conscious I am a bit of cliche. 40-year-old ‘career lifer’ who’s fallen short of early retirement but with zero experience of doing anything else. With the kids and the mortgage. Hell, we even got asked to be in a National Trust photo shoot the other day we’re so blinking model family. I have in fact also already started my mid life crisis. My Wife brought me a body building book last year and I’ve become quite addicted to it. I’m probably only one spliff away from going full Lester Burnham.

With that in mind, I thought I’d try blogging. Not done it before. Never kept a journal. Losing your job is about as clear a line in the sand as you can get. So if you are going to record something you might as well record the next steps in figuring out what to do after that. So here it is. My first blog brought bang up-to-date on Day 4.

  • Reviewed CV making notes from HR meeting and looked at the CV builder on the Penna site

Decided actually writing up a CV was ‘work’ and thus, should be done on a Monday rather than the ‘day of rest’. Plus a blog offers a splendid outlet for procrastination. Hmm, I wonder if I can monetize it with adverts, links and publishing deals when it takes off … best not to put any hope on that one.

Day 3 : What can I do with a 6 figure life insurance policy?

It occurred to me yesterday as I was cycling to the train station that for 26 days I still had a 6 figure life insurance policy. That would set the family up nicely and save the pain and no doubt modicum of humiliation of finding work again. Plus it would offer the challenge for a bit of devising a bulletproof plan for obtaining it. Dumped that idea in the crazy bucket. However will need to get my own cover.

I have exchanged some emails with my besties at work including my boss. Glad I did this as nice things have been said all round. It would be very tempting to just drop off the face of the earth but a decent goodbye mail gives a bit of closure I think. I’m distinctly worried about how they will cope in the next few weeks and have offered up a few suggestions of whom should pick up my various roles. There that’s done. I shall put it out of my mind now and wait for the phone call to start up negotiations about a decent consulting rate. Not going to pin any hopes on that one though.

Have confirmed that I could transfer my pension fund(s) to another pension vehicle if I wanted to. I won’t be in the short term. I can’t pay into it but I have no plans to until I have another income. Plus I have been downright virtuous in topping it up since I started work. Best decision I’ve made I reckon. It’s not made a lot of money but then neither has my Wife ( ok, or me) spent it so it has built up.

Day 2: I went to London as Me and came back an Unemployed Cancer Patient

Off to London today for a couple of appointments. The first is with a doctor as I have a basal cell cancer on my right cheek which needs to come off. The second is with HR at the office for the first redundancy consultation.

The doctor was very nice and seems strangely familiar. He will remove the skin cancer using Mors Surgery. “However small it is it feels huge to the patient”, he says. “Don’t worry”, I say, “I told my wife I would be coming back with half my face missing”. “Probably only a tenth”, he dead-pans. Oh the japes we are having. Now for the punch. He can’t do the op until May 22nd. I’m pretty sure my health insurance will have run out by then. I will check with HR.

It’s now lunchtime so I stop for a bite in Pimilco Pizza Express. It’s very nice and has wifi which is what us modern day job seekers require. For 30 seconds I feel like crying but then an excellent calzone arrives and I soon start feeling better.

I then go to a vodafone shop and look at phones as the scrubbed blackberry still works but not for long. I’m torn between the Blackberry PRIV at one end of the scale, and the 10 quid Alcatel at the other end of the scale. Luckily for me the display blackberry has a wonky space key which makes writing INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATING. Hate shopping. Leave.

I meet a good friend (Ex-colleague, contractor, entrepreneur, and ‘Man On The Inside’ at the old company) for a very civilized mint tea. He reads out the roll call of the those that have departed. I feel better again. I’m in illustrious company.

I make a point of meeting him in the lobby of the office. I’ve learnt from bitter experience that its best to knock that one down as soon as possible. Firstly, the security guard does not rugby tackle me to the ground. He’s not even holding a list of names like you sometimes see. Secondly, absolutely nobody I know appears as I’m enjoying the fine leather arm chairs. Lastly my longest standing client does not come sprinting over to poach me out of IT. It’s all a bit disappointing quite frankly.

Finally I’m off to the meeting with HR. I’m ushered into the inner sanctum of HR and into the private office of a very nice lady, who I suspect may be the BOSS. It feels like I am getting the VIP treatment. I’m flattered. She lets slip that this round is less than 100 people so I probably am. Lucky me.

Continue reading “Day 2: I went to London as Me and came back an Unemployed Cancer Patient”

Day 1 : This is the first day of the rest of my life

Tired. Mind was racing last night. Had to shout at it to shut up. Poor Wife woke up at 3 am. Good news though. I’m already picking up new qualifications. Grade 2 Piano. My piano teacher and I get cracking on Grade 3. This is the first day of the rest of my life I tell her.

Because I worked for a GOOD COMPANY the redundancy package is good. I don’t have to rush back to work. But how long have I got? I add up the direct debits and brutally hack out all the non essential ones. GREAT NEWS. If we live like monks and only eat baked beans I reckon it will stretch for nearly 3 AND A HALF YEARS! Without having to sell the house! BRILLIANT! I feel a whole lot better.

Hmm, am forced to admit that my definition of essential is probably a million miles away from anybody else’s and that the estimate is not very realistic. Best get on with figuring out where my next pay cheque is coming from.

  • Read ALL the redundancy pack that the courier delivered last night and made a list of questions for HR.
  • Apparently 30K of the redundancy package is tax free.
  • Made a list of all the bills and prioritised them.
  • Made an appointment to meet a consultant from the outplacement service next week. Opt for Milton Keynes rather than London for a change as I’m harbouring the idea that I might get a job there as it has plenty of tech companies.