On to the Next Chapter …

For the first time since 1989 I am unemployed.

Twenty-six years of continuous full-time employment in high-tech. I guess that’s a pretty good run. I experienced many good times, including the technology bubble of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. But I also survived many dark times such as the Nortel meltdown in the late 2000’s (my entire division was sold to another company in 2007, the company that has now let me go). It was only a matter of time before the cost-reduction ax caught up with me.

I’ve officially known this was coming for some time. Our management team was good enough to give us about 2 months advance notice. Unofficially I’ve “known” for a lot longer. The writing was on the wall and it was pretty easy to read. The final, confirming nail was when they announced that the company is being bought by a competitor with a large product overlap (a deal that is public but has not yet closed as of this writing).

For me, this is a good thing. I’m happy that this has happened. I’ve been in a rut for a very long time and I think this is the kick in the ass I need to do something about it.

Thanks to my 22 1/2 years of service at this company (bridged with my Nortel service), I’ll be receiving a healthy severance. I have no debt (except for my mortgage) and I have no dependents to worry about. If I mess this up, no-one will be living on the street except me and my dog. With careful planning and some cutbacks on the luxuries I’ve enjoyed (travel, cameras, toys, etc) I’m sure I’ll have enough to get me through until my next job.

The only real bummer in all of this is my vacation time. After more then 20 years of service, I’ve hit the maximum of 6 weeks/year in vacation time, plus my benefits package allows me to buy an additional week, which I do. Being a new employee in a different company will probably mean going back to 3 weeks. That will be tough. Even if I can financially afford to start traveling again, I won’t have the vacation time to as much as I would like. Hopefully I will be able to negotiate extra vacation time. At this point in my life, I would happily accept a lower salary for additional vacation time. If I can’t do that then I guess I will have to bank the money I normally spend on travel and resume my travels when I retire in 10-15 years (unless my Lotto 6/49 Retirement Plan comes through 😉).

Talking to friends who have gone through this recently, I think that the high-tech job market in Ottawa is pretty good right now. There are new buildings going up in the Kanata Research Park, where most of Ottawa’s high-tech companies are located. Job fairs have been happening and Linked-In is sending me lists of open jobs that fit my profile each week. I also have plenty of contacts to draw on to see what is available at their companies.

I don’t expect to walk into a new job right away, and I’m not sure that I want to. Unless a great opportunity presents itself, I will take some time off before starting my job search, and then I will look for the job that suits me better than my old job did. I hope that my new position will rejuvenate my interest in high-tech, which has been waining for the last several years.

This is certain to be an interesting new chapter in my life, whichever way it goes, and I’m looking forward to journey.

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