Layoffs and rumors that my company might not make payroll this week. What should I do?

Hey everyone -

I'm an engineer at a really small startup of about 10 people. We used to have 15 full time employees, but a round of layoffs came and the executive team said they were "leaning up so that we could give ourselves more runway."

But, now I'm hearing rumors that the company might not be able to pay us this Friday, and I'm worried I might get laid off soon.

I graduated in 2016 and this was my first job after college so I really don't know what to do. I have experience with Angular, React, Objective C, and Java if that helps. 

Well I would have said that I would have started sending my resume out just to see what's out there after the last round of layoffs, but hindsight is obviously 20/20.  

I was in a somewhat similar position when I took a position at a smaller consulting shop in Dallas between my stints with Accenture and Deloitte Consulting.  What wound up happening was that my company was having problems signing deals with new clients and renewing current clients so the executive team started making decisions on who to keep on the salaried payroll and who to move to a hourly rate and only paid when they were staffed on a project.  I was one of the folks they kept as salaried payroll, but I saw the writing on the wall and started shopping my resume around pretty aggressively.  The other companies understood my situation (especially since it wasn't really my fault) and I wound up with 3 separate offers within 2 weeks - I decided to go with Deloitte since I was ready to go back to a larger and more stable environment.

Since you are a recent grad, check back in with your university career office and see what they can do to assist you.  A lot of schools will still give you full access to their job postings / career websites if you are less than a year after graduation.  It's not the most optimal time to go back on the campus recruiting search (since most companies have already filled their recruiting allotments), but it's worth a shot.  Also, where did the other engineers who got laid off go?  If you worked with them and they can vouch for you, they might open a door for you at their new company.

Lastly, I have seen quite a bit of chatter from my Deloitte contacts about looking for more Business Technology Analysts (BTA) - which is quite odd at this point of the recruiting cycle (most positions are filled in the Fall).  But if that is an opportunity you might be interested in, you could check in with the local Deloitte office (or possibly via a connection at your university career office) and see what might be available.  They normally have start dates for BTAs in Feb / July / Sept each year, but they have had expedited start dates in the past due to market conditions.

One last thing - whatever you do, don't mention to anyone at your company that you are potentially looking.  If what you are saying is true, all you would do is paint a huge target on you that you might jump ship and they might just give a helpful "push" overboard.  That would be a little more problematic to explain at an interview.

Hope this helps - keep us posted on what happens.

I want to reiterate that you should not mention you're looking to anyone in your company. They might be talking or gossiping, but when it comes to finding a new job, you want to keep that very close to your chest. 

Keep your head down and keep working hard until you have some more clarity on the situation. Best not to get caught up in discussing the rumor with others or investing too much time in stressing about it. (Easier said than done, I know.) 

You might dedicate your evenings this week to brushing up on your resume and investigating other companies that have openings for you to pursue. If a downsizing happens and you're impacted, at least you'll have some directional ideas on companies and roles you can seek out next. Also, having a list of companies and opportunities that you can target if you're let go might give you some peace of mind in the short term. There is ample opportunity out there for those who look and seek. 

Hang in there!