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  • Cliff Krahenbill, aka, Prof. K

Getting fired In Technology - Good or Bad


As a young tech 18 years ago I got all my interviews and my first technical job because of my certs. I got fired quite a bit because I didn't know anything. That only lasted the first couple of years. I learned quickly getting fired for technology is not necessarily a bad thing. Most importantly, your resume gets fatter, and you gain a ton of experience until you get to the point where your certs and your experience keeps you gainfully employed.

I often get asked, how do you explain all those short-term jobs and the answer is simple; I don't! First off, never, ever, put anything on your resume that is going to prevent you from getting the job. Never put anything on your resume that will raise a red flag. What's the point of applying for job if all your going to do is set yourself up for epic failure?

We walk into the interview with both guns blazing, take no prisoners and "get out my chair! I interview you; you don't interview me!"

The good news in technology is no one cares. Everyone wants to hire a gunslinger, someone with certs, education and lot's of experience but those types are few and far in between.

In technology, I see getting fired or laid off as an opportunity to get a better job, make more money and get more experience. I'm only speaking from my experience. This worked for me. Truth being, most people don't really know what they are really worth until they have to find another job. Every job should be treated as training for the next job. You learn as much as you can all the while getting more certs and education. We don't stop looking for opportunities. We don't stop creating better opportunities for ourselves.

In technology we build, and we rehearse disaster recovery plans because it is never a matter of if, just a matter of when. So it is with our own personal disaster recovery plan. We can't wait to get laid off to go back to school. We can't wait to get fired to become certified. We all need to be prepared and have our own personal disaster recovery plan in place and how to react.

Back in 2001, I worked for Keane. The company was bought out by Convergys. First to get fired was management, up and down the line. Convergys brought in there on people. The Keane management worked so hard to ensure a smooth transition, and they were slaughtered the very first day. Next were the tech leads, and I could see the lemmings all running toward the cliff, so I took all my certs and education and went somewhere else. I got a huge increase in salary, and before I left three years later, I had doubled my income.

While everyone else was sitting around wringing their hands and praying to be spared, I turned in my two-week notice. People were shocked, "where will you go, how will you survive? Are you sure you want to quit? There's no way you found another job this quickly."

I didn't wait around for the hammer to fall. The 18 month I worked at Keane, I was taking at least one cert if not two a month. Yeah, and I failed about 30% of the time, but the other 70% were solid certs Keane paid for. I acquired a bucket full of Microsoft and other certs while I was there. I made sure I was employable.

And that is how it is in Technology. I worked for Clifton Gunderson from 2005 until 2010. One day, the new CEO decided the firm was no longer going to provide technical support services and closed both the IT support and IT auditing services in Tucson.

I had already finished my first Masters and had renewed my CCNA and earned additional certs. Why? Because the company paid for my education and my certs. On top of my salary I was making an additional $15-20K a year in tuition reimbursement, paid training and certs, and the sad part in all this is I was the only one on the third floor doing this. Everyone else just stayed fat and happy walking around as if they were going to be at CG forever.

That's a personal disaster recovery plan! I'm walking out the door with much more than I came in with and the company paid for it. I ensured getting laid off would be nothing more than another great opportunity to get a better job or in my case my own consulting services.

In technology, staying at one job for 15-20 years and then having to find similar work can leave a person way behind the knowledge curve. I recommend changing jobs every 4-5 years, keep current on the certs and continue on with your education. That's only if you want to be a contender. If you want to keep trusting others to have your best interest at heart or you feel prayer will keep you fat, happy and gainfully employed, keep on keeping on.

I know getting fired or laid off from a stable job goes against our grain and our programmed thinking but if you want to make 6 figures in technology, you cannot do it working for the same company for twenty years nor will you gain enough experience to move up the next rung in the IT world.

This is not your grandfathers economy and your children can expect to have more than 14 different vocations in their lifetime.

There is no such thing as corporate loyalty, and no one should feel the need to be loyal to any employer when the employer has the right-to-work laws on their side and can kick anyone to the curb without notice....and they will!

I watched the news and saw another GM plant closing. The workers were all in tears hugging each other and saying they have no idea what they will do now that the plant has closed. The question I have to ask, is why were they not prepared for such a disaster?

We all have to look at the level of risk we impose on ourselves and our family by not being prepared for a worst-case scenario. You may think you're in charge of your world, and you have everything figured out, but chaos reigns supreme, not you and I.

How many of your friends and family are in a situation of not knowing from day to day if they will have a job tomorrow? Yet, like lemmings, they get up every day believing they will be spared. Are they going to school? Are they looking at getting retrained? Probably not. They have a comfort zone, and they don't want to move out of it. Can you do more to ensure your success in technology? Absolutely and you should do all you can! Is it hard? You bet! Is it going to get harder? Count on it!

Those with the education, the certs, and the experience will rise to the top and always be employable. Too many people are walking around blaming everyone but themselves because they can't get something going in technology.

This all part of playing the game but you can't play if you don't know the rules. This whole process of scratching and clawing your way to the top is just a mindset. You either have the right mindset, or you don't.

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