November 2009 is important because it was the month that Electronic Arts laid me off. The proper corporate term is, I guess, "Reduction in Force," or "RiF" (pronounced "riff). It was a pretty tough time for me, as I'd never been through such a thing before. I was living in Virginia, 3000+ miles away from home, with no idea where I'd be when the money ran out. It's not as if EA hung me out to dry. The severance was fairly generous, but it wouldn't last forever.
The reason I'm reminded of my own layoff is because, just yesterday, SoE (Sony Online Entertainment) cut a substantial portion of their workforce. That's 205 people out of work and three studios shut down. I don't know any of them personally (at least, I don't think I do), but I still feel for them. On the off chance that you, dear reader, are one of the affected, please check the job listings at 38 Studios. Words cannot express how awesome this place is.
In my case, the layoff was a blessing in disguise. When it happened, I was in shock. I didn't know what to do. One of the first things was to sign up for the GamaSutra newsletter and start combing their job listings for things that might suit me. The second was to talk to a recruiter. Neither did me much good, job-wise, but it kept me busy, and gave me the feeling that I might find something eventually.
What really helped, though, was word of mouth from people I already knew. One FaceBook friend who had also worked at Mythic suggested I send my resume to 38 Studios. I'd never heard of 38, so I checked their website out. What little I read sounded interesting enough, but there weren't any positions on the job listing that reflected my skill set. I sent my resume in, anyway. It couldn't hurt... and it didn't.
Within a week, I got a call from 38's recruiter and the ball got rolling. I had a phone interview, followed by an on-site interview, followed by an offer, all before Christmas. Things were suddenly looking up for me. By February, my family and I were living in Massachusetts and I was getting acquainted with the job, the processes of a new studio, and all the people I'd be working with. Looking back on it, I'm glad EA let me go when they did.
I still miss the folks I worked with, some of whom had been let go at the same time I was, and others who were retained. I keep in touch with some of them, and they keep in touch with me. The industry is pretty small, all things considered, and I expect I'll be seeing some familiar faces as my career continues to evolve. Life will never be boring, but I hope to all that is holy I'll never have to go through that process again.
My thoughts go out to the folks who lost their jobs yesterday, and to their families, as well. I know it's hard, but I also know there will always be a sunrise tomorrow. Keep at it... get your name and your resume out there. Stay positive and don't give up. I can't promise your experience will be the same as mine, but I wish you the best.