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Career Checkup  (Updated January 5, 2018.)

Hard-earned advice on evaluating your career situation, based on extensive online discussions and private communications with alumni. Applies wherever you work.

Evaluate your situation

- Determine if you are in a dying or stagnant segment of your industry. Follow the online magazines and forums in your field. To determine where a public company expects to grow, read transcripts of the quarterly stock analyst conference calls -- if you read closely, they are often remarkably revealing. HPI   HPE   DXC   Micro Focus

- Determine if you are in a vulnerable role. "We've tried to reduce and be more efficient in the non-customer facing functions." Link "...de-layering as we right-size the organization... a pretty high overhead structure... We ought to be able to run much leaner and meaner..." Link  "We take out non-revenue generating costs." Link

- Determine if you are in a vulnerable work location. "We now need to build a stronger culture of engagement and collaboration and the more employees we get into the office the better company we will be." Link  [Members continue to report that, in many cases, their immediate manager at the time of layoff was someone they had never met in person.]

- Evaluate your current skills by analyzing the degree requirements and course descriptions on a university website. Could you compete with a new graduate? "I wish I had faced the fact earlier that my knowledge was mostly HP-centric and that my technical skills were out of date." From "What I wish I had known before I left" http://www.hpalumni.org/WIHK

- Your knowledge of legacy products may be more valuable to a customer or reseller than to your current company. Unobtrusively ensure that the outsiders you work with know how to contact you personally. (Before updating your LinkedIn profile, click "Me" under your photo > "Settings & Privacy > "Privacy" > and change "Sharing profile edits" to "No." Otherwise, LinkedIn will notify all your connections -- including managers and co-workers -- about every change: "Congratulate Mary Smith on the new position" if you have merely updated a position description or "Check out Mary Smith's new photo." However, this does not prevent any LinkedIn member from seeing your profile.)  More on LinkedIn Tips and Traps: http://www.hpalumni.org/LinkedIn )

- Despite your workload and performance, you are not indispensable. The company may decide that your product or project is no longer important, or that the contract you are working under won't be renewed. The company may decide to reduce labor costs in your business unit, or to consolidate the work at another location, or...

- Watch the HPAA video "Job Searching for the Mature Worker." Pat Richards from nonprofit NOVA Workforce Services, Sunnyvale, California. Practical, actionable advice. Questions and discussion. http://www.hpalumni.org/searching (HPAA membership not required.)

The job environment is changing

- The IT industry is changing. Two macro trends: Traditional IT products and services have become commodities -- resulting in brutal price competition. Standardized, automated cloud-based IT is displacing labor-intensive, customized data-center-based IT -- reducing employment across the industry. Links 

- Investor pressure for short-term results. The successor companies are under the same cost-cutting pressure as the old companies. Investors are being promised that layoffs will continue. Examples: Morgan Stanley stock analyst pinning down HPE CFO on layoff savings (Link). Goldman Sachs analyst pressing DXC CEO on offshoring percentage (Link).

- Company needs are changing. New technologies and business models require different employee skills. Jobs are being moved to lower-cost countries. Increased use of contract employees. Many functions are simply no longer needed. "...how do you keep up with this next generation of IT and how do you bring people into this company for whom it isn't something they have to learn, it is what they know." (Link

- Companies need to make room so that the next generation of employees can advance. "...we need to return to a labor pyramid that really looks like a triangle where you have a lot of early career people who bring a lot of knowledge who you're training to move up through your organization, and then people fall out either from a performance perspective or whatever..." (Link

Advice from alumni

- Staying in a bad job -- or returning to a former employer -- may have long-term career consequences. It can postpone learning new skills or technology, starting over at another company, or changing careers. "You don't want to appear to be only employable by HP." "I could've spent that time working my way up in a new company."

- If you are approached about -- or apply for -- a direct or agency-contract position at one of the HP successor companies, be very clear about your employment history. A recruiter or manager may not know about the formal or informal restrictions -- or may be overly-confident about getting approval. Many report losing critical time and wasting valuable energy on discussions that ended abruptly without explanation. If you did not leave under a restructuring program, make that very clear.

- Working through an agency is very different from direct employment. For legal reasons, you are treated differently -- for example, not included in staff meetings or celebrations. People's attitude toward you is different. Easy to get into a situation where, due to the agency's undisclosed markup, you are expected to work at a higher level than you are being paid for. When comparing alternatives, be sure to factor in the reduced benefits. - "Learn new technologies and remember HP as kind of like college -- it was fun while it lasted."

- "Making less but I now get to spend more of my time doing the part of the work that I love."

- "I wish I had recognized much earlier the futility of my job and what it was doing to me. On the way home after an exhausting day, I bought groceries. I realized that the guy bagging groceries at the store had done more for civilization that day than I had."

- "Found out I was grossly underpaid." 

- "Having HP on my résumé helps to open doors with other firms."

- "Now I work for a 200-employee company and can get decisions made same-day."

- "In retrospect being WFR'd was a blessing. It forced me to get out, rethink who I am and what is important. I certainly would not have started my own business without the shove."

- "I wish I would have known that I had greater skills at adapting to my life after HP, resilience in dealing with the transition, and competencies that were valued by others."

- You may find "the companionship you thought you'd miss, the dreams you thought you'd dropped, and the enthusiasm you thought you left back in your youth."


Comments to operations@hpalumni.org will be kept in confidence.

See also:

- Know someone leaving HPI or HPE? Send them this link to our "ASAP Checklist" -- advice from alumni on urgent things to do before losing access to internal systems and in the following weeks. http://www.hpalumni.org/asap  (HPAA membership not required.)

- Links, advice, and reference info from HPAA members about job searching and career issues.

- "Job Searching for the Mature Worker" -- HPAA video with practical, actionable advice.


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