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Wish I had known before layoff, retirement, or leaving: Part 2 - Job and Career.

We asked HPAA members "What do you wish you had known before you left?"

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

Also use our ASAP Checklist. Member advice on what to do before losing access to company systems -- and in the following few weeks. Supplements the official checklists. (No password required.)

Heads Up! These comments were posted from 2011 to 2023. Some things have changed. Question? Email: info@hpalumni.org

Job and Career - Wish I Had Known #2  (Most recent additions Feb 18, 2023)

"Look into claiming for unemployment. Depending on the reason for your departure, you may, surprisingly, be eligible. I was part of the HPE VCTP, but spent much of the last 2 months transferring my role to India. That secured me an unexpected payout from the state (Colorado)"

"...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. ...we put in place an informal rule... when you are replacing someone, really think about the new style of IT skills."

"...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..."

--former HP and HPE CEO Meg Whitman to stock analysts in 2013.

"...eventually you will wear out. Not many people can last for twenty or thirty years, which is why we need to attract young people."

--Antonio Neri, former HP SVP, now CEO of HPE, quoted in the 2016 book "Becoming Hewlett-Packard"

After half a decade of litigation, HP and HPE have escaped significant consequences from lawsuits alleging age (and sex) discrimination .

Members recommend spending most of your job-hunting time searching outside the company -- you are a stronger candidate while still employed. Very few members report landing during their "redeployment period" -- losing critical time and wasting energy on discussions that end abruptly without explanation.

It is clear that chances of returning to HP, HPE, or any HP spinoffs 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.

Details: https://www.hpalumni.org/Employment

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 yourself.

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 had become shallow and out of date.

To compete with new EE or CS grads, I would have had to gone back to university. Two years of undergrad courses and a year for an MS. Would have been very challenging, but also fun and invigorating to learn in depth about all the powerful new tools and technologies.

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 job.

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 corporations.

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.]

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 résumé.

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 companies nearby).

Keep up with your LinkedIn profile, it is the primary way I have been contacted by recruiters for new opportunities.   ***Do not use your company email address as your email contact on LinkedIn***. 

[Even if not currently looking for a job, you need to be on LinkedIn. Reconnect with people who know you and your work. Be found by recruiters. LinkedIn works differently than you might think: LinkedIn Tips and Traps ]

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 "soap opera."

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 insurance.)

c)  Responsibility/expertise levels would match those at HP (by salary ranges)

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 printed out my full job description before I left. Usually the job title doesn't adequately convey what the job entails or the scope. I had this on hand during job interviews and it helped them understand what I did beyond what was on my resume.

You may want to get copies of your personnel file if you plan on looking for another job or for your own curiosity. If you plan on looking for another job, ask for letters of recommendations before you leave. I retired 20 years ago and didn’t plan on working again; in today’s workplace these might not be needed.

It’s been a while, but I wish I had known that all the email addresses there were in my Contacts List “looked” like they were external email addresses (xxxx.yyy@hp.com, etc.) but, even though I saved them all (don’t remember the details how), soon as I was off the HP/HPE MS-Exchange Server (on a personal laptop) they were all MS-Exchange specific addresses. So, no way to email anybody except those I had sent emails to, or received emails from, AND had saved those emails (in a .PST file).

One more “GLAD I thought to” thing. Glad I thought to change my cell-phone, that was HP-pay at the time (if that’s even still done now), to personal-pay of the number AND started the process of an official transfer of the number (so I could keep the same cell-phone number) to me -- with a vendor I chose. From what I’ve heard, if you cell-phone is still on HP-pay (for the service), there really is no way to transfer the number to your own cell-phone/cell-phone vendor after you’re out the door.

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.

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