Last few days, Microsoft laid off 1,400 people, with another 3k to come.  F5 is laying off 100.  A number of months ago, Real let go a hundred and something folk. I’ve a bit of experience with Microsoft, having spent most of my career in the 90’s at that behemoth as both a blue-badge (twice), and as a contractor. Yeah, it’s been awhile, but I’ve not been totally disconnected during the last few years.
I’ve been reading some of the comments to the ‘Microsoft Layoff’ announcement at Mini-Microsoft.   Summary:

  • 1,400 gone immediately, 3600 sometime in the future.  Some sword of Damocles.
  • No raises as part of the annual review this year.
  • Contract staff reductions
  • Reduction in travel, construction, etc (that i think is reasonable)

Yikes. Fear of upcoming layoffs (the 3600) and the promise of no raises won’t do much for moral.  I’m sure people retaining their jobs will start dusting off their resumes.  And those who are good, well, they’ll probably get hired somewhere else.  The rest?  Some may work hard until the stress related illnesses get them.  Some may simply stop caring, putting in only enough work to get paid.  Some may increase their politicking, hoping to steer the axe in another direction. My guess on the end result?   It’s gonna be rough there for awhile.  Really rough. I’ve been through it.  At Microsoft.  In ’93-’94, after years of saying ‘Windows Cairo will ship in 18 months,’  MS decided to merge Cairo into the NT group.  I received a call while in vacation in Germany from a friend, stating that they were laying me off.  
It hurt, but eventually I came back to MS and spent a really great 5 years or so in the Crypto group. At Asta Networks, a startup I was involved with at the turn of the millennium, we’d grown to 60 or so people by the time the dot-com bubble burst.  The first cut was deep.  Half of the work force.  And it was not handled well.  It destroyed trust.  People were unable to make decisions.  Productivity ground to a halt. The second cut was deep as well.  Another halving of the company.  By that time, the morale had been crushed from the company, and I left shortly after the layoff to resolve some stress related issues. Layoffs suck.  You lose confidence.  You ask ‘why me.’  You face financial stress.  You face a job search, usually in a bad job market.  
And if you survive a layoff?  In some ways, those that are leaving are the lucky ones.  Companies heading towards layoffs usually aren’t very pleasant.  You lose friends that are let go.  You wonder if you’re going to be next.  The company usually becomes much more conservative as far as work mix.  
So how did I survive my layoff experiences? It was rough at first.   But each resulted in strong self-analysis and personal growth.  It’s a good time to think about what’s important in life, to refocus your priorities.   As awful as it can be, being laid off can be an opportunity if you make it so.