My former AOL colleague Joe Loong has up something called “Preparing for Your Impending Layoff From AOL,” which as you might guess is about what to do when you’re laid off from that august institution, as I was in 1998, and Joe himself was in 2007. It’s got some AOL-specific stuff in there, but there’s a lot there that’s generally applicable to being laid off from anywhere.
Joe’s advice is practical and good and I don’t have too much to add to it, except the admonition that as awful as being laid off is when it happens, it’s really not the end of the world. I’ve noted here often that in many ways being laid off from AOL was one of the best things that ever happened to me, because of how it motivated me to take charge of my own life. Other people’s mileage my vary in these cases, but the point here is that it doesn’t have to be the worst thing ever.
And certainly in the case of AOL, it’s not even unusual: even in the company’s heyday, it would layoff hundreds of people every time it did a re-org, which seemed like every six months or so. I always thought that was no way to run an Internet. On the other hand when a company lays off people as often as you or I change socks, it does bring home the point it’s not a personal process. It’s not you, it’s the dysfunctional corporate culture. Anyway, all the best people get laid off from AOL. Which helps to explain why it’s in the trouble it is today.