It’s a small world for them too

So I’ve been thinking about the way I’ve been laid off. has been very mad about it on my behalf, probably more than I am. I like to try to keep things in perspective, so I’ll lay down a few thoughts here. This is a good point to skip past if you don’t care about my job search, etc.

(1) I’m now being treated like the proverbial ex-girlfriend by the owners and the CEO. For example, it’s been 5 weeks and I still don’t have my computer files yet. I called today to say, hey, what’s going on; I was told that the CEO and the COO (aka, the owner’s husband) had to decide on policy for files that are related to Human Resources. Here is the list of what I asked for:

* My music files (all very legal), which apparently are not a problem and will reportedly be sent.
* My bookmarks
* My address book
* A directory containing 14 Word, Excel and JPEG files pertaining to an article I gathered the data when I was doing my master’s and which I published at Humboldt State University, but after I’d started working for Ridolfi.
* A directory containing four PDF files showing the results of the StrengthsFinder assessment, for which you need the code from the book and which you can only take once. In other words, if I don’t get the files back, I’d have to buy another book to take the assessment again.
* A directory containing three Word files, which are the drafts of my self-assessment for our December 2007 personnel evaluations.

That’s it. No surprises, no company reports, no business development files, no proprietary information. I spoke to the CEO and found him talking unusually fast. He would meet with the COO this afternoon to find out what the policy was, he said. I took the opportunity to politely ask him to send me a copy of my personnel record too, while I was at it.

(2) Should I take this personally? Was there some sort of horrible secret problem they never told me about? My first reflex is to suspect as much and construct a little narrative around this, but then I have to remember that every employee I know of who was let go by the company was treated like a syphilitic bastard-child leper: forget they ever existed, show up on Monday pretending they were never there.

So I think it’s not me, it’s them. It must a company policy.

(3) Does this make any business sense? Let’s forget about whether, morally, you should shoot like a rabid dog a skilled employee who’s been loyal for nine years, and bury them behind the wood shed. Does it make good practical, self-interested sense? Well, the reason I was given was that terminations are bad for employee morale and so should be kept as short as possible. And did it succeed? Bueller? Anyone? Anyone? No, it did not succeed. I know several employees — if not most — were brushing up their resumes, and one young engineer has since given his resignation. Morale is not exactly boosted.

Moreover, it’s a darn small world out their — especially in such a specific discipline and with the networking tools we now have. I’m talking to a lot of companies right now, and I’m sure they’re noting the data point. I make sure they’re noting the data point; not with bitterness or bad words; but whenever I get the inevitable question “Why are you leaving your current employer?”, what can I do, in good self-preservation, but point out how a small and vulnerable company like this is getting hit hard by the economy.

Besides, I’ll soon be working at another company (I hope). Some of the companies that are interested in me are very large. I could end up in position to help or hinder my former employer in the future. Why go out of their way to make me want to be bitchy? I try to be a better person than that, but I do have a vicious streak in me.

Speaking of which, I had a good phone interview this morning with two VPs of a ginormous company headquartered in San Francisco; they liked me enough that they called back in the afternoon and will pay to fly me to SF for a face-to-face interview on June 18. I mean, seriously, I AM a very valuable employee and a very good engineer. I was actually underpaid for years because I loved my work, but familiarity breeds contempt.

I’d rather find a good job here and stay in Seattle, because and I have grown roots and made friends; but at least I know I have solid market value.

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