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The Layoff Tales: 'Never think that bad times will not visit you'

February 3, 2009
'What are 10,000 deaths? Statistics. What is one death? Tragedy', Josef Stalin, the Communist tyrant who ruled the Soviet Union for close to 30 years, once famously said. Substitute the word death/s by layoff/s and you get the point.

While the job situation in India was really grim in 2008, it is likely to get terrifying as 2009 progresses.

While labour-oriented sectors like textiles, real estate and housing bear the harshest brunt of this fallout other sectors like financial services, banking, information technology, business process outsourcing, automobiles, oil & petroleum, retail, media -- only to name a few -- are seeing layoffs like India has never seen before.

In essence, the shadow of job losses will loom large over India for some time to come.

At we wish to bring to light the hardships being faced by those young people who have been laid off. The way they are coping with the situation and how their lives are affected by the current recession.

Most importantly, we want these stories to be read because they have a lesson to teach those who have jobs. Also, to tell readers that these people are down but not out and there is always a silver lining to the darkest of clouds.

In the first part of this series we feature an employee who worked in the IT department of an oil & gas major in Mumbai. He -- along with 70 others in his division -- was sacked not because he was incompetent or an underperformer, but because the company had to cut costs. And it started this with the most easily identifiable target: Employees.

Name: Anuj Patel (name changed on request)
Age: 26
Company/Sector: Oil & gas
Educational qualification: BE (Electronics)
Work experience: 2 years and 5 months

Background check:

I finished my engineering in electronics in May 2006. While I was not selected during the campus interview held at my college I succeeded in getting a job two months later.

In these two months I did a crash course in advanced computing and .NET. In fact that helped as most of the questions asked to me during my interview at this oil & gas company were related to what I learnt in this crash course.

How I lost my job

India in 2006 was a good place to find a job and my first job got me a salary of Rs 26,000 (in hand) per month which later increased by 8 per cent in April 2007.

I was very gung-ho and things were moving pretty smoothly. Until November 2008... the stock markets were crashing across the globe as bank after bank went under in the USA leading to global turmoil.

My company bore the brunt of this crash and to cut costs they began downsizing staff strength.

In December I along with 70 other members of my division were asked to leave. We received a severance package as per company rules. Only 22 co-workers were retained to handle our core technology operations.

No liabilities

Personally speaking, fortunately, I had not borrowed any money for buying a house in mid 2007. My elder brother was planning to get married and as we live in a one-bedroom apartment I wanted to purchase my own flat. I thank my stars that it didn't happen though my brother got married the same year.

Now that I am without a job -- I am searching desperately; I have sent applications to at least 7 IT companies -- I find myself in a very miserable position. I don't go out and meet my friends; I often have tiffs with my girlfriend and get annoyed at minor things; I have stopped visiting my relatives.

The social stigma of not having a job in a conservative family like ours is unbearable as people start questioning your ability.

Family support

It is indeed my fortune, again, that my parents and my brother support me through this tough time. My elder brother works for the technology division of a private bank and helps me with my financial difficulties. He has promised to pay my life insurance premiums if my savings deplete with each passing day and if I fail to find a job in the next 6 to 12 months.

Who can I trust?

Though two companies have offered me verbal commitments of a job offer and asked me to join mid February I don't trust them as they have not yet given me an offer letter. A few friends have also got the same verbal commitments but no concrete offers.

My company too, till December, gave us hope that there will not be mass layoffs but it did happen. I can hardly trust people anymore now after this experience.

Lessons learnt:

  • Always have an alternative source of income
  • Never think that bad times will not visit you
  • It helps to save money in good times; you understand its value in times like these
  • Never trust a company's verbal promise that you have been selected; only trust the offer letter and your abilities to scale difficult times
  • Understand the importance of having a supporting family
  • Don't borrow money from banks for whatever reasons if you are not sure if you will have your job or not

    As told to: Prasanna D Zore. Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

    Do you have a layoff tale to tell?

    Have you lost your job? Do you know someone who has lost her/his job recently and is trying to come to terms with the situation?

    If you, your friends or relatives have a layoff story to tell, to inform readers about the lessons that you have learnt, please write to us at Your name and identity will not be disclosed unless you want it to.


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