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Getting out on the wrong foot...

I am going to quit my job because of pressure from my boss. The company grew and eventually the number of projects subsided. They realized they had far too many employees. So, they started to make pressure for me to leave. They started to criticeze my work, they stopped giving me new tasks as if to signal "you're not wanted here" and my manager has a very coward attitude towards me. When I try to confront him, his reply is "No, don't worry, everything is fine."

I know the writing's on the wall. I know what's coming. But what worries me is the consequences to my career. Have you guys been through this before? What should I do when/if someone asks for references from this company? Worse, what if I stumble upon a friend of my manager?

How would you guys handle this? What would you do?


Thursday, January 29, 2004

First  start centralizing ownership of some critical code or projects. You'll become less of a target for downsizing.

Then, don't go away without any options when you are out.

Going away with nothing is not very good in today's economy.

If they make yourself feel miserable, take it as an opportunity to strengten your self-consideration.

You are okay, you deserve respect as a human being and they lessen themselves.

Buy yourself a copy of the Art Of War and The Prince and start applying. Realistic strategies seem to apply :-)

Philippe Back
Thursday, January 29, 2004

By the way, I started my own business because these kind of situations made me puke.

I really cannot stand this anymore.

Philippe Back
Thursday, January 29, 2004

Turn your code into spaghetti and resist all attempts to make you fix or document it. Put passwords on everything so you become essential.

Don't laugh. I've seen this work. The best guy got the boot because they could take over his work easily. The atrocious guy had to stay.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

I'm not trying to stay on the company. What I want to know is how did you guys handle such a situation.

I believe things turned sour because of bad management. And I might have my point proven when my manager gets kicked in the ass, which might be very soon.

But I also might have to do a lot of explaining when I go to an interview with someone who used to know him, or with someone who knows someone who knows...

How can I handle that? How can I handle my reputation?

Thursday, January 29, 2004

This sort of situation came up a few months ago. From memory the advice was, stick it out, let them lay you off. If they do that, they have you pay you out a LOT more than if you quit.

In the meantime, work on your resume, do some networking and make more contacts, work on some personal projects and basically kick back and relax about it all while they are still giving you a paycheck.

If you leave now, you have nothing. If you force them to lay you off in six months you walk away with a payout, new job leads, a great resume and some new code.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

What I did in a remotely similar situation is make everything simple for someone to takeover my projects in exchange for a good recommandation on prospective calls.

Worked like a charmed, and now I've got a job that I like a lot more thanks to my recommandations, including the one from the job I had to leave.

Seems like the best win-win situation you can get. You don't have to turn this into a fight.

Renaud Martinon
Thursday, January 29, 2004

Start having lunch with all your sympathetic co-workers and get their home e-mail addresses. This way you have references no matter who gets downsized along with you.

Start screen capping things and making copies of your code... Obviously within the law, your current employer owns whatever it is you do for them and you should treat it that way. On the other hand, I've been show portfolios and never objected to the fact that someone screen capped their previous employer's app, especially if they blurred out the pertinent data before showing it to me.

Maybe work on a project in your spare time, shareware or a web app you can show off. They may want to claim ownership of anything you do while you're there, so keep this project on the down low, doing what you must to avoid detection (encryption, remoting in to personal computer to do the work, etc.). Then, of course, you'll have to work on it once they let you go, not to start your own business (because that would violate the terms of your unemployment compensation) but as a hobby.

Start saving money, cut down on the credit card debt, carefully consider each new purchase, and do what you can to save around the house. It's amazing what some savings will do to your self esteem.

Start looking for another job quietly, using your middle name and a fictitious current company if you must to cover your tracks in case you think your employer is on the same job sites as you looking for a replacement.

As far as keeping your job, very loudly become the most productive employee in the organization. It'll make your managers think twice, or make it more difficult for them to justify dropping you. Don't make disparaging remarks against anyone, but do praise your own acheivements loudly... make sure they're current acheivements, and use numbers wherever possible. "Fixed 37 bugs, write 3,000 lines of code, and demo'd the product to 16 people in 3 regions."

Have co-workers write you letters of recommendation and send them to your boss, BCCing you (keep a personal copy off of company computers for future use) and CCing his boss if you think that's where the main heat is coming from.

Whenever someone is trying to back you in to a corner, you have to become as big as possible and try to outflank them. As long as you're dealing from a position of weakness, it shows in every dealing you have. Once you've gathered your forces and can deal from a position of strength, what they do will be of less and less importance.

If this advice seems silly, it's because I haven't had enough sleep.
Thursday, January 29, 2004

I have been there before.  First always remain professional and don't try to stoop to their level.  Keep doing you your job during the day while you feverishly look for a job at night.

I still remember the day at that place when I went into by Boss' office and gave him my resignation.  First time I saw him smile!  He said, "No I am not happy that you are leaving, just happy that you found somehting you will like."  As someone already said, a WIN-WIN.

Bill Rushmore
Thursday, January 29, 2004

You should wait until you get fired. Then you can obtain unemployment compensation.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Don't just quit and then look for a job. It's always easier to find a job if you've got one already. If you don't like what you're doing, look around. If there is nothing better, stay where you are. A few months of boredom isn't going to kill you.

If the pressure is really serious, like you're being given janitorial jobs to do, there is something called 'constructive dismissal' in most countries, where you can sue as though you had been fired. But that's for really extreme cases only. And you have to have exhausted all the internal procedurs first.

David Clayworth
Thursday, January 29, 2004

Research laws on "constructive dismissal" that may apply in your jurisdiction.  This is the legal term for a change in your employment conditions made to induce you to quit.  If you can prove constructive dismissal then you may be entitled to damages that go beyond simple termination benefits.

Note that this could get ugly in court and take a long time to resolve.  You need to talk to a lawyer if there are laws against constructive dismissal where you live.

David Jones
Thursday, January 29, 2004

Buy a glass jar of mayonaise, one with a decent seal. Remove all the mayonaise. Go to the mens' room and take a poo that will fit into the mayonaise jar. (I recommend wearing rubber gloves whilst handling the poo.)  Put the poo into the mayonaise jar. Now, try to get access to a ventilation vent. If this is operationally unfeasable, find a file cabinet which you can lock and abscond with the key. Put the poo jar into the vent or the cabinet, then announce your resignation. About 4 weeks after you are gone, the gas produced by the decomposing poo will cause the jar to explode, creating an unremoveable stink in the office. Revenge is yours.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

>...Revenge is yours

Yeah and so is a nice jail cell with a cellmate that has more tattoos than clothes and a computer running Microsoft Bob with the office "clippy" to cheer you up

Seriously, document like mad your talks with your Manager, the work you have done and requested to be given to do. This way when the ax falls and they try to whine about how you were not working...slam the document in front of them and start talking about severance pay.

Code Monkey
Thursday, January 29, 2004

I'm not sure if anyone is addressing the OP's concerns.  Sounds like he is worried that after the termination (quitting or layoff), he won't get a good recommendation from his manager.  If he's worried about running into his manager's friends, this implies said manager is well connected in the area and a new job will likely be with someone who knows the manager, thus eliminating the possibility of NOT giving the mgr as a reference.

I don't have any advice, as I've never been in this situation -- but maybe people can address this question a bit more specifically-?  i.e. how to get a job when you've been fired from your previous and can't use them as a reference.

Biotech coder
Thursday, January 29, 2004

> Have you guys been through this before? What should I do when/if someone asks for references from this company?
> When I try to confront him, his reply is "No, don't worry, everything is fine."
> How would you guys handle this? What would you do?

I haven't had a cowardly manager, but I have been downsized (or moved because I had finished my work).

I'd tell the boss that as long as I'm still working there I want to do good work; that if I leave or am terminated, then I'd like him to be a reference for me; and ask what I can do, for him and for the company, to earn a good reference.

> Worse, what if I stumble upon a friend of my manager?

Why would that be bad? If your boss says everything (including your work) is fine, and if the reason why you left is only because the company had too many employees and not because your boss dislikes you, and if you have a good reference from your boss, then meeting one of his friends would be a /good/ thing.

Christopher Wells
Friday, January 30, 2004

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