I was laid off from a 13 year career at IBM on October 31st.  I wasn’t able to write about it until now, because I needed some time to sort out my feelings.  Mostly, I haven’t had time to write because I’ve been frantically looking for a new job.  Now that I’ve had some time to reflect, I realize that there are some positives in being laid off.  Here is my story:

On the evening of October 30th, I had just returned from an award trip in Europe with some of the most brilliant Web 2.0 minds in IBM.  When I landed in the US, my Blackberry inbox told me several colleagues had been affected by this latest round of “resource actions”.   I went to bed that night unsure of my fate.

The next morning, Friday, I called my manager to inquire on my status.  He told me he had a trip planned to see me on Monday.  I immediately knew there could be only one reason for him to do that, so I requested to be informed on the phone.  Things were a blur from there.  I listened to the standard HR speech as to why I was being resourced.  Documents would be sent overnight to my home.  I had 30 days to find another position in IBM.  My departure date would be December 2nd.

In the month and a few days since then, I have realized that this resource action wasn’t all bad.  In retrospect, I think the universe had been trying to tell me I needed a major change it my professional life.  I hadn’t been the same Laurisa for sometime, yet I wasn’t being aggressive enough to take charge of my own destiny.  Since I didn’t listen to the small hints, something drastic had to happen.

So overall, I am going to say the resource action has been a positive in my life for the following reasons:

  • It was time to move on:  The group where I was at for the last few years had recently started going in a direction that I didn’t feel best suited my strengths.  Work was getting increasingly competitive.  I was being asked to do things I didn’t have the skills or interest to pursue.  All the signs were there for me to move on yet, somehow, I thought it would get better.  I had just begun to look for a new position inside the company and I had a few options I was going to pursue after first of the year.  The resource action made me put my job search in high gear.
  • Amazing out pour of support: My network of contacts inside and outside of IBM have been tremendously supportive of my job search.  I wrote an internal blog post explaining my situation and asking for help.  Within hours, I was contacted by IBMers from every corner of the globe offering assistance, support, and kind words.  People sent me job leads, wrote recommendations for me on LinkedIn, and sent me messages of encouragement.  That type of support made me feel valuable at a time when my professional self-esteem needed a boost.
  • Great social software use case: Not that I wanted to be a guinea pig for this use case, but I feel that this journey has demonstrated the power of social software both inside and outside the firewall.  So many people, (that I never even knew existed!) contacted me to say how sorry they would be if I left because they had been consumers of the content I contributed to our internal blogs, social bookmarking, and social file sharing repositories.  These individuals never had never posted a comment, nor had ever contacted me in any way, yet they were benefiting from my social capital.  Wish I could calculate the ROI on that!Also, through my contributions throughout the years to social repositories and social networking sites, I had built up a strong reputation and personal brand.  People knew exactly what I did, my style, my personality, and the quality of my work.  This made it easier for me to get my name out there and for people to feel comfortable recommending me for a position.

I am happy to report that on my final day of employment, December 2nd, and after a 3rd and final reschedule of my exit interview, I received a job offer to stay within IBM.  It really came down to the last minute!  I am very grateful to the many people who worked to keep me inside the company, and I hope this new position is exactly what the universe had in mind for me.