Monday, May 07, 2007

Fired and promoted on the same day

It's been two and a half years since I was first told that I was laid off from my last job, but it only recently dawned on me that ironically, I was fired and promoted on the same day. I was on vacation when my boss called me at home. I had no idea that I was about to be laid off, and when he told me the news, I was quite shocked. It was not an instant layoff as they wanted to retain me for 9 months for technology transfer.

It was also review time and I knew I had a promotion coming, so at the end of the call, I also inquired about that. My bosses' tone turned around and he was happy to tell me that I was promoted to "Staff Software Engineer" and got an 9% raise. In addition to that I was going to get a 15% salary increase during the transition period before my termination. So the call to inform me that I was going to be terminated ended up also about a nearly 25% pay increase and a promotion. Only in corporate America.

I hadn't realized the importance of the "Staff" title as I knew lots of engineers that had reached that level at my last company. It was basically the highest level of individual contributor that you could achieve without having to get into the manager grades. At my new company, I learned that "staff" was a special title. Basically, only a handful of top management are staff, and nothing happens unless staff approves. I was not originally allowed to have server access with VPN, because that was reserved for staff. The building doesn't get unlocked unless someone from staff enters (we were locked out all day once because they were off-site and the receptionist had to open the door by hand every time). So even though I'm a manager at my new job, I've been downgraded to Senior Software Engineer and no longer staff. Hard to win at this corporate shell game!

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