Job and Career - Wish I Had Known #2
We asked HPAA members "What do you wish you had known before you left HP?"
The responses are organized into five articles:
- Heads Up - Surprises and Hazards
- Job and Career Issues [this article]
- Benefits Issues
- Financial Issues
- Looking at the Big Picture
Job and Career - Wish I Had Known #2 (9-28-2014)
It is clear that chances of returning to HPInc, HPE, the HPES spinoff, or
the HPESoftware spinoff
are slim. This is based on stated company policies,
announcements to investors, extensive LinkedIn
discussions, and many private communications with members.
If you are approached about -- or apply for -- a direct or
agency-contract position, be very clear about your HP
history. Many report spending time and energy on discussions
that ended without explanation.
I wish I had known that two years later I would still be out of work.
If you think you are going to be the exception to the rule that
engineers over 55 can't find equivalent jobs, you may be kidding
At least research what skills and knowledge you will need to get your
next job. It is almost certainly not what you have been using for the
past 10 years.
Start taking classes immediately to get up to speed on the new stuff.
I wish I had faced the fact earlier that my knowledge was mostly
HP-centric and that my technical skills were out of date.
Don't be so choosy about your next job. HP's best product is their
trained people. Take the first job that pays well and work up.
Don't get hung up trying to get the equivalent of your old job back
albeit at another company. My old job didn't move to India -- it
disappeared due to consolidation of the industry and fundamental changes
in how IT is done.
I wish I had known how difficult it is for someone over 50 to find
meaningful work. At my next company, we got a manager-from-hell, who
tried to induce us to quit so he could replace us with his buddies. He
decimated the department before finally being fired, but caused an
abrupt end to my stellar, 31 year career.
Get ready to accept a very large wage reduction going into your next
You will come and go to several smaller companies and realize that small
company politics are just as poor (if not worse) as are the very large
Do not feel badly if you accept unemployment insurance. [HP paid into
your state's unemployment fund for many years on your behalf. Only in
Alaska, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are there employee deductions for
UI. If you take PRP instead of being WFRed, you do not qualify for
unemployment benefits -- because you voluntarily retired. --cg]
Try a different industry for a real change and a growth path. Everyone
gets into real estate sometime….not recommended. Read the book "Who
moved my cheese."
Join a Toastmaster Club and speak your mind while improving your
communications skills and your resume.
Just a few thoughts that bounced around in my mind as I went through the
withdrawal symptoms and established a much more fulfilling life.
How much age discrimination there really is in hiring
How scummy a lot of today's companies are with respect to ethics/privacy
– I could not in good conscience apply at many of them today
How much fun it is to just sell again. I'm working for a VAR. Making a
lot less, but I don't have to wrestle with HP bureaucracy, fight to get
split commissions, etc.
I've been surprised at the number of multi-level marketing -- now called
network marketing -- "opportunities" I get pitched by people I thought
would know better.
I wish I had known how wonderful it is on the outside! And how important
all my HP skills have been in my non-profit encore career -- one that
makes a difference in people's lives.
Focus on building contacts beyond HP. This can be challenging for a
multiple reasons including limited travel budgets (few opportunities to
attend conventions and shows with networking opportunities), HP's size
(can find many resources internally, limiting need to build outside
relationships), and site locations (outside of HQ some have limited tech
Keep up with your LinkedIn profile, it is the primary way I have been
contacted by recruiters for new opportunities. ***Do not use your HP
email address as your email contact on LinkedIn***.
Setup a Gmail, Outlook.com or other email where you can be contacted
privately and that will remain with you if you part ways.
What do I wish I had known before I left HP? That I could survive and
even thrive on much less pay, in a job with local government that I
really, really enjoy. It took some false starts, like a temp job in
another hi tech company that ultimately went under, and another job in a
non-profit that was truly a fascinating learning experience. Just don't
expect to make ANYTHING like what you made pay and benefits wise at HP
and adjust your spending habits now.
My pay may be half what it once was but I have full benefits in my job
and that is worth the difference in pay!
Having worked at HP is not a plus in job-hunting. HP's old reputation is
long gone -- between the CEOs for more than a decade announcing that HP
people are slow, out-of-date, and unnecessary -- and the continuing HP
I caught myself talking about "how we did it at HP." You need to
demonstrate to interviewers that you can learn "how we do it" at a
potential new employer.
You don't want to appear to be only employable by HP.
Don't yammer on about the good old days of HP to folks who didn't work
at HP. They really don't care, LOL!!! Still miss the camaraderie though!
I had thought I would get a part-time job, just to stay active and
stretch retirement savings some. I learned two things: age
discrimination is very real, and part-time tech jobs may not exist.
I ended up going with a contracting firm and then got hired by the
company that used their services.
I have found employment tougher to find (or keep) than I expected. In
leaving HP, I thought that
a) Employment would be easy to find,
b) Medical insurance would go along with it. (Medical insurance of the
kind that we get at HP costs about $1400/month. If you don't have this
money to spend, don't retire UNLESS you have the fully subsidized HP
c) Responsibility/expertise levels would match those at HP (by salary
d) Organizations are willing to grow your knowledge and capability (as
at HP). I applied for and successfully interviewed for promotions within
jobs that I had, that I wasn't yet qualified for. I didn't realized
that the risk was "all yours" as opposed to a shared risk at HP. I was
given a year to prove that I had the capability, not to grow it.
Expect to have to work as hard when you start a new job as you did right
out of school.
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 than I expected before I left.
I underestimated my ability in these areas because I had spent so many
years at HP.
I would like everyone embroiled in the day to day race that is HP to
know that there IS air outside of the HP building you're working in. It
felt to me like I was walking out into the void.
But, you will find others that left HP have started their own little
companies and may want your help in making it work. There you'll 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.
As odd as it sounds, every time HP had a layoff here in Corvallis the
number of jobs created by those leaving eventually outnumbered those
lost. To be sure, don't count on the same pay level since all
"startups" are a struggle but the excitement in being involved with
something you can make a difference in and the personal connections
you'll revive and create will take you back to the early days of Bill
and Dave, John Young and Lew Platt's HP.
Obviously I stayed the "engineer" course after leaving but there are a
lot of other directions people can take and find the same sense of
community and commitment. Volunteer at you local library, art center,
community theater, or soup kitchen. Yes I said "volunteer" and this may
not be a viable option for someone needing income but if you are worried
about what you'll do with yourself after leaving the HP community you'll
find a whole wide world waiting for you.
The HPAA is operated by former employees who volunteer their time. It is
not endorsed or supported by HPI or HPE.