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Advice and Resources for Tech Workers Coping With Job Loss

Strategies include consulting and networking

4 min read
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Tens of thousands of tech workers have been laid off by companies recently, including at Amazon, Dropbox, GitHub, Google, Microsoft, and Vimeo. Startups, too, have made cuts, according to TechCrunch.

To help IEEE members cope with losing a job, The Institute asked Chenyang Xu for advice. The IEEE Fellow is president and cochairman of Perception Vision Medical Technologies, known as PVmed. The global startup, which is involved with AI-powered precision radiotherapy and surgery for treating cancer, is headquartered in Guangzhou, China. Xu was formerly general manager of the Siemens Technology to Business North America.

In past articles, Xu has provided guidance for startups, such as steps they can take to ensure success, where founders can find financing, and how to be a global entrepreneur.

Included with his advice are ways IEEE can help.

Beef up your tech and leadership skills with online courses

Although Xu isn’t a financial advisor, he says the first thing to do when you lose your job is to “slim down financially.” Do what it takes to make sure you have enough money to support yourself and your family until you land your next job, he says.

“Don’t assume you’ll find a job right away,” he cautions. “You might not find one for six months, and by then you could become bankrupt.”

To help unemployed members keep costs down, IEEE offers a reduced-dues program. For those who have lost their insurance coverage, the organization offers group insurance plans.

After attending to your finances, Xu says, the next step is to reflect on your career.

“Being laid off gives you some breathing room,” he says. “When you were working, you had no choice in what kind of work you had to do. But now that you’re laid off, you need to think about your career in 5 to 10 years. You now have experience and know what you like to do and what you don’t.”

Ask yourself what makes you fulfilled, he says, as well as what makes you happy and what makes you feel valued. Then, he says, start looking for jobs that check all or some of the boxes.

“Now that you’re laid off, you need to think about your career in 5 to 10 years. You now have experience and know what you like to do and what you don’t.”

Once you’ve figured out what your long-range career plan is, you most likely will need to learn new skills, Xu says. If you’ve decided to change fields, you’ll need to learn even more.

IEEE offers online courses that cover 16 subjects. There are classes, for example, on aerospace, computing, power and energy, and transportation. The emerging technologies course offerings cover augmented reality, blockchain technology, virtual reality, and more.

Several leadership courses can teach you how to manage people. They include An Introduction to Leadership, Communication and Presentation Skills, and Technical Writing for Scientists and Engineers.

Help with finding jobs and consulting gigs

Looking for a new position? The IEEE Job Site lists hundreds of openings. Job seekers can upload their résumé and set up an alert to be notified of jobs matching their criteria. The site’s career-planning portal offers services such as interview tips and help with writing résumés and cover letters.

IEEE-USA offers several on-demand job-search webinars. They cover topics such as how to find the right job, résumé trends, and healthy financial habits. You don’t have to live in the United States to access them.

To earn some extra money, consider becoming a consultant, Xu says.

“Consulting can be an excellent bridge to bring in income while working to secure the next job when facing the situation that your job search may take months or longer,” he says. “For some, consulting can be the next job.”

IEEE-USA’s consultants web page offers a number ofservices. For example, members can find an assignment by registering their name in the IEEE-USA Consultant Finder. Those who want to network with other consultants can use the site to search for them by state or by IEEE’s U.S. geographic regions. The website also offers resources to help consultants succeed, such as e-books, newsletters, and webinars.

To determine how much to charge a client, the IEEE-USA Salary Service provides information from IEEE’s U.S. members about their compensation and other details.

IEEE Collabratec’s Consultants Exchange offers networking workshops, educational webinars, and more.

If you are financially able and have the right ideas and expertise, Xu says, another option might be to launch your own company.

The IEEE Entrepreneurship program offers a variety of resources for founders. Its IEEE Entrepreneurship Exchange is a community of tech startups, investors, and venture capital organizations that discuss and develop entrepreneurial ideas and endeavors. There’s also a mentorship program, in which founders can get advice from an experienced entrepreneur.

The benefits of networking and social media

Don’t overlook the power of networking in finding a job, Xu advises.

“You need to reach out to as many people as possible,” he says.

You’re likely to meet people who could help you at your IEEE chapter or section meetings and at IEEE conferences, Xu says.

“You will be surprised about how many contacts you can meet who might help you find a job, mentor you, or give you information about a company that might be hiring,” he says.

Take advantage of LinkedIn and other professional social media outlets, Xu suggests. He adds that you should let your followers know you are looking for a position.

If you are knowledgeable about a specific topic, he encourages posting your thoughts about it to display your expertise to prospective employers.

Consider joining the IEEE Collabratec networking platform. Members have access to IEEE’s membership directory, where they can find contacts who might help them find a job. They also can join communities of members who are working in their technical areas, such as artificial intelligence, consumer technology, and the Internet of Things.

Relocation can be an adventure

If you are still having a hard time finding a job, consider moving to a different region of your country—or to another country—where jobs are more plentiful, Xu says.

“Relocating,” he says, “may open up whole new opportunities or adventures that are fulfilling to you or your family.”

This article appears in the September 2023 print issue as “Resources for Tech Workers Coping With Job Loss.”

The Conversation (1)
jake Leone
jake Leone17 Jul, 2023

It is tough to find a tech job. I have 15 years of cloud dev experience, not even one interview yet, after six months of looking. My nephew graduated with a Computer Science degree, he has not found a job. I don't know where that 2% tech unemployment figure is coming from, but I don't think it really reflects the market right now. Definitely a time when who you know, not what you know, get you a job out there.