Getting Laid Off and Moving On (a simple tip)

phone book A few days ago I posted to one of my favorite e-mail forums (beware: there are usually around 1,000 e-mails sent each month) about the “We had a great year but your job no longer exists” letter, and got this brilliant reply from Angela Fowler:

One of the best tactics for weathering the storm of lay-offs is: KEEP your company phone rosters! Simple and easy way for future networking when you need it the most.

Wow, why didn’t I think of that? Probably because was too embarrassed to communicate with people who stayed at the company. But I shouldn’t have been. It’s just the way it is, and getting laid off or otherwise finding yourself in transition doesn’t make you a leper.

This applies to moving, also. Keep your old phone books, church rosters, etc. Thanks Angela!

Oh yeah, the small print. A follow-up e-mail on the thread suggested that it might be against company policy to take the phone list, as it might be “company property.” This was certainly true when I worked at the FBI. Make sure you check that out before you take the roster!

7 thoughts on “Getting Laid Off and Moving On (a simple tip)”

  1. Great comment, Jason & Angela.

    In the heyday of dot-com 1.0, the late nineties, I worked at Genuity, a now-defunct company based in Boston. That was an incredible place, and I really got to get my sea-legs in terms of working with incredible people and teams, and do really cool stuff.

    Back then, I was turned on to LinkedIn, then about the only social network out there (unless you count, bleh). The idea that my contacts could update their OWN information was cool to me, so I signed up.

    In the years that followed my time there, the company went out of business thanks to rocky financial footing anyway + the bubble bursting + 9/11. Still to this day, I get connection requests from colleagues who worked there. Some I remember well. Others I admit not remembering that well. But I connect to them anyway. Its kinda my small way to reach back out to them. Maybe I can hardly do anything for them now, but if they want to connect, and I can help them meet someone who can boost their career, then by all means, I will do it.

    I also know that many companies will post employee information on a corporate intranet, or in some other digital format. It may be a good idea while you’re at the company to do some work exporting/importing that data into your contact-manager of choice. Outlook perhaps? Or Jibber Jobber? It will be a great resource for you while on-the-job as you’ll have contact names, emails and extensions at your fingertips. But if those get synchronized to your PDA or phone somehow before you go, they might prove useful down the line.

    Point of the story–maybe you can’t take the company roster with you, but there’s no reason you can’t develop an alternate way of getting and storing the contact information for key people in your organization, either by diligent effort (saving contact info as you go, or import-export-geekery) or by making sure you regularly groom your network of contacts and invite people to connect with YOU in a manner that will persist after you or both of you have left your current organization.

  2. Hello my name is Tom and I’m an information junkie 🙂

    Any time I get contact info I stored that data for future reference.

    If somebody leaves a company by their own choice they often send a goodbye email with their contact info. Probably many of us do save that. If I’m meeting somebody for lunch I ask for their cellphone number in case of last minute issues and save it. OK no biggie. Well if I get my manager’s delegation and need home phone numbers in case of work emergencies, I save them. Or sometimes if people are on vacation but are still on call they may offer their cell number.

    OK now for the most questionable one. There have been many occasions during my long career when the department secretary will announce a co-worker will be out for days due to a death in the family. They provide contact info (address and home phone) for those wishing to send condolences. You guessed it, I save that info. However I do feel a little dirty doing such. On the other hand I’ve never used any of the info collected in that manner and never intend to use it inappropriately.

    So is saving that data unethical since I would not be using it in the future per its original intent and was not offered first hand? Or I’m just being a savvy data collector?

  3. Of course, its best to allow the person you’re keeping track of to “opt out” or edit the data you’re saving. However, is it unethical? There’s really nobody saying “don’t take this information”. Its kindof like filming a busy market on your video camera. People will knowingly or unknowingly be recorded by you, but they don’t have much of a chance to make you stop and ask their permission first.

    However, the proper use of that information now is in your hands. Using the information to create problems for the person/people you’ve recorded data on is dangerous. If it can be proven you (a) gathered the information without explicit permission, and you (b) allowed the information to be used negatively, then you could be in some trouble.

    But, be a good, descent person with it, and you’re probably OK. Maybe.

  4. Here’s another tip: Keep old seminar or workshop materials. Not only do they often provide you with e-mails and phone numbers of speakers and attendees, but personal photos can help you remember what the heck the person looked like. Business backgrounds are often also provided, helping you further find ways to make connections.
    And, never forget about alumni publications. They’re a treasure trove of connections and can open many doors.
    Anita Bruzzese

  5. These comments are great! I’m going to break Tom’s question(s) out and make it a new blog post… but thanks to each of you who have responded…. valuable stuff!

  6. Jason,

    The employee needs to be cognizant of the company policy w.r.t to confidential information and how the directory is classified.

    Otherwise, it may not be worth the trouble, especially if the information within is misused.

    – Adwait

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