What should I do to prepare myself for an impending likely release from employment?
February 25, 2010 2:42 PM   Subscribe

I work in software development in the state of Washington. Recently my manager has informed me that unless my work performance significantly improves in the next 8 weeks, I will be let go. Other than working my tail off to prove myself capable of meeting my team's performance expectations, and looking for other positions internally/externally in the meantime, how should I prepare myself for an impending release from employment? Will I be eligible for unemployment benefits given this situation (and no misconduct on my part), and if so what can I expect to get?
posted by CallMeWhiskers to Work & Money (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
it might be no misconduct on your part - but you are being let go "for cause". by reading the washington unemployment requirements it doesn't seem like you'll be eligible, but you might as well file as it is ultimately up to the state whether or not they grant you benefits.
posted by nadawi at 2:54 PM on February 25, 2010

if you get unemployment, here's the state's answer on "how much"
posted by nadawi at 2:55 PM on February 25, 2010

IT is my experience that nothing you do short of walking on water over the next 8 weeks will save your job. They are covering their butts by giving you a warning first. I am not sure that they would accept an internal transfer either. I would do nothing to anger them, I would look for a new job outside their company NOT USING YOUR COMPANY's COMPUTERS in anyway including just sending an email from Gmail with your resume you carry on your flash drive.

As part of the discussion when they let you go, negotiate for what they are going to call it. Ask to call it a layoff if that helps get unemployment and your next job.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:02 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm sure every situation is different, but not doing the job to their satisfaction is usually not considered "for cause". From the site nadawi linked to: "We have to make a decision about your eligibility if you voluntarily quit your job, were fired or suspended by your employer, or are on a leave of absence."

If you didn't do anything that qualifies as misconduct, you probably have a better chance at benefits. IANAL

How should I prepare myself for an impending release from employment? I'd start by cutting unnecessary expenses and saving that money as well as making a list of things you can do once your income lowers to save/make money. For example, I wouldn't cut my cable off or lower my cell bill until I did lose my job.
posted by soelo at 3:12 PM on February 25, 2010

It is my experience that nothing you do short of walking on water over the next 8 weeks will save your job. They are covering their butts by giving you a warning first.


it might be no misconduct on your part - but you are being let go "for cause".

Probably not true. In most states, "for cause" is something serious and provable like theft or chronic absence. A general charge of "work could be better" rarely qualifies as "cause." I'm not a lawyer, but you should be eligible. They might challenge it, if they're assholes, but you would probably win.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:12 PM on February 25, 2010

Thirding what soelo and drjimmy11 said. If you're living in Washington, you generally will be eligible for UI if you are let go at the company's decision for reasons outside of serious cause (theft, etc) such as not having work available or simply not feeling you're a good fit. Heck, in Washington state you can sometimesquit a tech job and be eligible, as it's usually unlikely (but not impossible) they will put up a protest. It really comes down to the company: they're already paying UI insurance, but if they're small they may care about the increase from claims, whereas a large company won't really care. If you've had the ~680 hours or whatever the requirement is and the company that let you go doesn't claim you should be denied UI, then you should be fine.

And if as I'm kind of guessing, you work for "Large Software Company in Redmond"- which given your statement about the 8 weeks sounds like the classic pre-firing PIP (Performance Improvement Plan)- they will not contest UI claims, generally speaking. Besides, a PIP can be another way of doing a workforce reduction, so it effectively is like being laid off for lack of work.

I also agree that if you're given an 8 week window, you're probably going to be fired (but you might not- your boss should have given you very specific goals or things to improve if they sincerely thought your job was salvageable in 8 weeks). Go to the Washington state UI site this week, and research how to file, as you can actually file well ahead of losing your job if you know the date of your expected job loss. You could get your first UI check without much interruption from your regular pay schedule.
posted by hincandenza at 5:16 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Having been on unemployment in Washington state I can guess that you'll have no problem qualifying. I never even spoke to a human being.

However, my wife got unemployment in a murkier situation than yours and had to go through a 3 month wait while they considered her case. With that in mind, I think you should definitely talk to your employer ahead of time. You have nothing to lose.
posted by lumpenprole at 7:20 PM on February 25, 2010

I think I'm also having trouble with the emotional ramifications of going through this... like how do I deal with knowing that I failed at my job? Plus, almost all of my friends work at the same company, and I can't help but think that if I do get let go that they're just gonna shrug and won't know what to say to me... I don't know if I can deal with that.
posted by CallMeWhiskers at 2:40 AM on February 26, 2010

like how do I deal with knowing that I failed at my job?

You didn't. They're just trimming numbers, and all this has nothing to do with you or your performance. They're just being assholes about it, and the moment you have a new job (not before), I'd let all my friends who still work there know that THEIR job security is zero as well - just tell them how you were treated, and advice them they could be next.
posted by DreamerFi at 2:57 AM on February 26, 2010

I'm not so sure you should talk to your employer ahead of time- because you do have something to lose, that they might decide to contest your UI, and/or see your broaching the subject as a sign that you plan on doing nothing for the remainder of the 8 week probation (after all, if they've made up their minds there's nothing you can do, but want you to appear to be desperate to stay- people can be weird that way). Call it passive-aggressive, but I'd think just say nothing, work your 8 weeks like you expect to keep your job- and you just might, especially if you can get your boss to define what success looks like so you know what you have to do to show the improvement they claim they're seeking (other than something vague like "be better"). But if it doesn't happen, your employer will think "CallMeWhiskers sure did try to step it up, but it didn't work out" and they'd think well of you even as they let you go.

The emotional concerns are normal, CallMeWhiskers, but try not to internalize it. If everyone was a superstar who always exceed expectations, then we as an industry would be sorely underpaid! :) Don't think of it as you failed your job, but rather that the fit just didn't happen to be right between you and this position/company. Maybe you can ask yourself- or your boss- what was it that wasn't working out? Were your development skills not up to snuff? Was it a particular technology you were lacking training/experience in? Was it your work style or ability to get things done the way they did things there- some companies can crush one type of person while causing another to thrive, and yet those two people would be reversed at a different company. People can thrive in different environments, or under different leadership, or with different responsibilities. The question isn't "why am I a failure" but "what kind of job would show off the rockstar I know I can be?"

Also, any decent friends won't care that you got let go from your current job, as we all quit, get fired, or move on and away many times in our lives- they'll stay in touch. I've had friends get let go, and no one cared- we all still were friends and nothing really changes, and a month or two later they've got another gig and you're still having movie nights or get togethers and everything. They certainly don't think less of you if you do get laid off. Granted, workplace acquaintances are a little different: your lunchtime-only buddies might still meet you for lunch every now and then, but they weren't really "friends", just the more likeable people of those with which you arbitrarily were stuck in the same office, when you're looking for people to grab lunch or an afternoon coffee with.
posted by hincandenza at 3:02 AM on February 26, 2010

Generally, if you're fired, you're eligible for unemployment insurance. But you need to work your ass off to look for other work, it doesn't last forever, and keep a record of where you've applied.

That said, now is not the best time to be unemployed. So, find out what the problem is, and work on that instead.

In the meantime, at home, start looking for other work. Beware of posting your resume publicly though. HR tends to troll those sites, and if they find-out, it may worsen your situation. On the other hand, at one of the companies I worked at as a valued employee, posting my resume resulted in a rather quick increase in my salary.

It's all a gamble.

Also, as a worst case scenario, look into your local food bank and welfare assistance. And whether or not you can mooch off of relatives in a better a situation, until you get back on your feet.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 3:24 AM on February 26, 2010

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