So, SOOOOO much worse

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It's a couple decades back, and this IT pilot fish works for an aerospace and defense contractor that's laying off 30 percent of fish's division -- including fish.

But things could be worse. "To start with, we were given 60 days' notice," says fish. "Some were walked out, but many remained during that period -- but we were told that finding another job was our number-one priority.

"Outplacement services -- resume writing, interviewing techniques, printing -- were provided during the notice period and for a year after, and we were provided a bucket of $5,000 for retraining."

And any classes begun before official termination are covered under the company's standard employee tuition reimbursement policy. Fish is already working on a masters degree, and his manager readily approves taking even more courses, and the cost doesn't come out of his $5,000 retraining money.

Health insurance? That continues for a year, at no cost to laid-off employees. There's also extra money to supplement state unemployment checks.

Unused vacation time? It's only been a few months since fish transferred in from another division, and his leftover vacation was cashed out at that time. But the new division has credited him the full year's vacation time -- and then writes him a check to cash it out when he's terminated.

Fish even gets to use the corporate credit card and telephone calling card during his last 60 days -- which makes a real difference in the era before ubiquitous cellphones.

And he ends up collecting only a single unemployment check, because he picks up contract work that keeps him flush through the rest of the year.

"I was so glad I was in that initial layoff wave," fish says. "I returned as a contractor to that division several times over the next few years, and by then it was a lousy place to work, after subsequent layoffs and a corporate sale.

"Everyone was looking over their shoulders for the next layoff. And the severance package kept getting worse -- nothing like what I got. Oh, those were the days."

Yeah, Sharky wants to know where to sign up to get laid off like that too. Make me feel better by sending me your true tales of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll score a sharp Shark shirt every time I use one. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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