Been & Going

[HorroR Stories] Help! I Work for a Racist Bastard!

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hrs newDear Madame HR,

I just found out my boss made offensive and racist comments. I find his behavior disgusting and I don’t want to work for him anymore, however, I am under contract and don’t have a lot of options right now. What do I do?


This is Mme HR’s fantasy land where a professional basketball player would write to her and ask her advice. Go with me people. But I think that all of us, at one point in our career, have hit that point where we are exposed to some dirty naughty bits that don’t sit right and we have to make a decision. Do we live with it or do we go? And if we go, storm out in a cloud of moral outrage, where do we go?

You’d have to be living in a cave to not have heard about Donald Sterling, billionaire owner of the NBA team the LA Clippers. Allegedly, Mr. Sterling (which incidentally is not his real last name, he changed it to Sterling from something that ended in –witz) told his mixed race girlfriend to get rid of all the pictures of black people on her Instagram and not to bring them to Clipper games. Even perennial LA local hero and smiley-pie Magic Johnson is not welcome at Clipper games. Supposedly, or allegedly, or whatever.

buildingAnd if you are from LA, or live in LA, or want to live in LA than you know not to rent in one of Sterling’s apartment buildings! Ha! Ba-dum-dum. Cuzlook, when this story broke there wasn’t anyone out there saying: “That doesn’t sound like something Donald Sterling would say.” Sterling has been sued for sexual harassment more times than our other favorite (not) NBA boss, Isaiah Thomas. He’s a slumlord and I guess a bit of a maverick, but I suppose working your way up from being the son of a grocer in Boyle Heights to being a billionaire whose last name is Sterling doesn’t happen by accident.

Maybe I’m cynical, 12 years in HR does tend to take a toll on you in the whole faith in humanity department. So when I say that if you think you can quit your job because the CEO is a racist evil asshole and you are going to go out there and find a new job where the CEO isn’t a racist evil asshole you are dreaming, does that make me cynical? And maybe it’s not racist, maybe it’s sexist or money grubbingist, or some other ist, but look, like I said before, these guys don’t get where they are by accident.

I remember having a conversation with one of the CFOs I worked with. He was truly in a moral dilemma because when he had gone on a business trip with the CEO he witnessed the CEO soliciting a prostitute. The married CEO. Because I’m a pragmatist, I couldn’t really help him beyond the commiseration in the moral outrage department. He’s the CEO, he likes call girls. Is he a good CEO? (In this case, no). Is the company succeeding? (In this case, no). So what are you going to do? What can you live with? Can you still look at yourself in the mirror? The CFO left, by the way, but more I think because the company was tanking than the CEO’s adultery.

So what should the Clippers do? They don’t have a lot of options. They can stop playing, great, but they really only hurt protestthemselves as they are in the midst of round 1 of the playoffs. They can ask to be traded, but that can’t really happen until the season is over. They can protest, make symbolic gestures like the one they made on Sunday where they dropped their uniform jackets in the middle of the court and wore their practice jersey’s inside out. I think ultimately, as the worker bee in this scenario, all they can do is keep working. Yes, it’s demotivating and crappy as hell, but what are you going to do? Jeff van Gundy, analyst for ABC and all around white guy blowhard kept lamenting over and over that they should “do something.”  One of his suggestions was to sit in silence on the bench for 15 minutes. Um…ok… they could just sit there while the game is starting? The other team, would be like, “hey guys,” bounce, bounce, bounce, “wanna play?”

We can’t all work for Mother Theresa. Wait, is she hiring? This is the world we live in. CEOs are evil (mostly), rich people are evil (sometimes) and it sucks. Here’s how I handle it because I’ve had to swallow my share of shit over the years. I focus on my co-workers, my teammates, and my customers, the other employees. I show up for them, I work for them, I hope that I contribute something for them. So Clippers, play for each other and play for your fans, focus on that. Hopefully Sterling will get his, but let’s keep it real, how do you punish a billionaire asshole? Take him to court? He would LOVE for you to take him to court. He cut his teeth in this world as a personal injury lawyer. Fine him? Ok, but it’s probably chump change to him. Embarrass him? Again, good luck, his reputation is already pretty bad (see personal injury lawyer above).

That’s what really sucks, because there isn’t something you can do to this guy to truly give him what he deserves. Let’s hope that God’s got that covered on the other side. So, you just gotta keep doing what you gotta do, you feel me? It’ll be ok, don’t hold yourself accountable for his disgustingness. Milk ain’t free.

Extra hugs,


Please Leave Fido at Home

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I want to bring my dog to work, but my HR Department won’t let me. Why are they so mean?

-Dog lover

Yo Dog,

Thanks Google—thanks for creating all these fun and friendly workplaces with all sorts of crazy perks like laundry machines and free food. Oh, and thanks too for telling the whole freaking world about them. I have a secret for you—shhhh! Don’t tell anyone—but you know why Google feeds all their employees a free dinner? Because it means that they’ll never go home, they’ll never leave the sparkling utopia of the Google “campus” (don’t even get me started on how much I hate it when companies call their buildings campuses) and trudge home to, I don’t know, see their kids, hug their wives, live a life that has nothing to do with Google, play with their dog. But wait, it’s brilliant, in that whole list, what was the one thing you actually wanted to do? See your kids? That’s exhausting! Hug your wife? She’s a hopeless nag! Who’s the family member you miss the most? Who’s the only one that lovey-dove-loves you no matter how many times you step on his tail or forget to give him water? (Note to my husband (Monsieur HR):I still contend that wasn’t my fault). So here’s the best part! Now you can bring him to work with you! It’s great, just you and him against the workday. Now you never have to go home, you can spend every waking moment of your life playing ping pong in the employee lounge, getting your clothes dry cleaned over and over, and playing with your dog. Oh, and working! Yes, don’t forget the working!

Disclaimer: I have no idea if Google, in fact, allows their employees to bring their dogs to work. I’m just assuming they do. And if they don’t, I’m blaming the irrationally high standard they have set in workplace tomfoolery as the reason other companies allow it.

Has the concept of work-life balance become so smudged in today’s day and age that we think this sounds like a good idea? Allow me to cite the example of my dog, who I like to call HR Dog. Now I lovey-dove-love HR Dog. He’s just the sweety-weetiest little (he weighs 90 lbs) thing in the whole wide world. When I ask him to sit so that I may hug him (I ask his permission), and he decides to do me that favor, and looks up at me with his big brown eyes and I put my arms around him, well I don’t have to say it’s just a little moment of joy in my life. In that very specific moment he is the perfect dog. You know when he wouldn’t be the perfect dog? If I brought him to work with me.

Here’s HR Dog’s day at my office:

8:30 am- hide under Mme HR’s desk, pay particular attention to where she likes to put her feet so I can lie exactly there. Oh, and rub up against her black pants a few times to leave optimum amount of dog hair behind.

10:00 am- manager comes into Mme HR’s office with a question. Bark loudly and incessantly from under the desk. The important part here is to not actually get up off the floor or come out, just to make it absolutely impossible for them to have a conversation. Repeat every time someone comes into the office, whether or not I’ve seen them before or know them.

10:30 am- Break time! Go with Mme HR outside to run around with other doggies in the little doggie area. Make sure to poo so Mme HR has to pick it up getting some on her pantsuit and making her hands smell like poo.

10:45 am- follow Mme HR as she goes to restroom. Follow her into the restroom. Follow her into the stall. Bark at anyone (from the stall) that comes in.

12:00 pm- Lunch! Follow Mme HR to lunchroom. Growl at anyone who tries to pet me. Sit at her feet watching her eat. Growl and/or bark at everyone who tries to sit next to or talk to Mme HR.

2:30 pm- Follow Mme HR to important meeting. When she doesn’t let me into the conference room, sit outside the floor to ceiling window and stare at her during the entire meeting. Oh, and bark at everyone who comes in and out of the meeting. Or who walks by. Or who breathes nearby. Or who answers the phone. Or who does ANYTHING!!!

3:45 pm- Break! Take a random mad dash through traffic while Mme HR pleads with me to come back to her and sit for hugs. As if. Have you seen all this traffic?

5:45 pm- Dinner! Free food! <See Lunch>

7:00 pm- curl up into corner of office and sleep while Mme HR finally gets all the work done she hasn’t been able to do today because I’ve just been so damn adorable.

9:30 pm- Mme HR joins me on the floor for sleep. Who wants to go home and deal with all those annoying kids (she doesn’t have any) or that nagging Monsieur HR (just kidding! You know I love you honey! And yes, I gave the dang dog water, quit nagging)

Ok, so I guess by now you are thinking that I’m just as mean and evil as your HR Department. I mean only someone whose heart is two sizes too small would be against bringing their dog to work. I guess my little story above did not inspire you. I suppose you think your dog is just the mostest bestest behaved dog in the world and would just be an angel all day to everyone. Maybe you’re right. Maybe your dog would be an asset to the work environment, a paragon of poochitude. He would lift everyone’s spirits with his sweet slobbery kisses. The whole company would become more productive under his watchful doggie eye, assembly lines will move faster, admin assistants will type faster, programmers will write code with a song in their heart and a twinkle in their eye. Soon there will be a painting of him in the lobby, an honorary seat for him on the Board.

So great, you have a fan-freaking-tastic dog. I’m jealous. But here you go, it’s not your dog I’m worried about. It’s the pit bull aspirationally named Peaches that Janie in Accounting just rescued from the Shaky Scared Pit Bull Love and Hugs Rescue who thinks it’s a good idea to bring him into an unfamiliar place with lots of unfamiliar people doing even more unfamiliar things. She thinks he will be just fine. He just wants love! That’s why he ripped off Johnny in Marketing’s face. It’s how he expresses love.

And don’t get me started about Bobbi in Legal and all of her animal hair allergies. The woman practically walks around in a face mask as it is. And what about clients or customers that come in to your office? Who knows how they feel about our four legged friends. Not to mention they have now become targets for Peaches to rip off their faces.

So you see, you are being unfair to your HR Department by calling them mean. Just look at all the crap they have to put up with on this just so you can bring your damn dog to work. This is your job, get over it. Jobs by and large suck, they aren’t as good as our houses. Leave the good things at home so you’ll enjoy it more. Get over it. Cut them a break and go home and hug your wife, toss a ball to your kids, read a story to your perfect dog. HR Dog and I are just going to be over there, in the corner, growling at you.

Good luck out there,

Madame HR (and Dog)

This post originally appeared on Fierce and Nerdy April, 2013.

Questions Madame HR? Submit them via the handy contact form to the right, or email me here. All questions and stories will be kept confidential!

Mo’ Problems Getting Mo’ Money

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Any tips on how I can get a raise? The 2% they’ve been giving me every year is not enough. I was looking on and it says I should be making thousands more than I am. How do I get them to pay me what I’m worth?

–Deserve More

Dear More,

You’ve been getting 2% every year? Wow, lucky you! Since the economy exploded a few years ago, I think it would be difficult to find many people out there who have been getting steady increases every year. I think most who are employed are grateful to have a job and most who aren’t employed just really hate you right now.

Here’s a universal truth for you: EVERY employee thinks they are underpaid. Every single one. Those oil company CEOs you hear about on the news making 90 ba-zillion dollars? They want 95 ba-zillion dollars. It’s a fact of life. The difference between what an employee thinks they’re worth and what an employer thinks a job is worth is usually pretty wide.

From the employee’s perspective- you are thinking about your cost of living, that new Lamborghini Aventador that looks super sexy in lime green, the fact that a freaking box of Peanut Butter Cheerios costs about five bucks, and have you seen the price of gas? Aventadors get about 2 miles to the gallon, those babies ain’t cheap. Add in the fact that, according to you, you do an awesome job, you are on time every day (mostly), get all of your work done, you are the epitome of the good employee. So yes, you deserve a raise, goddammit. And not one of those Cost of Living trifles, a real, honest to goodness raise. Something that, when you get your next paycheck, you’ll actually notice it’s higher. You know, one of those fancy types of raises.

From the employer’s perspective- they have thought a lot about what you are worth to them. They probably have a whole person in the HR Department who just sits around figuring out what people should get paid. What a company decides to pay employees is like any marketplace. It’s like buying a Lamborghini Aventador, let’s say. You want a lime green one but you don’t want to pay too much for it. Turns out, everyone else wants the lime green one, so to procure your snazzy new supercar, you might get in to a bidding war, or you might have to pay full price at the dealership. But who knows, maybe you’ll find one cheap on Craigslist. Companies are the same way, they want the best employees to fill their positions and they don’t want to pay too much for them. They do research, invest in trusted salary surveys, create salary grades, and do all sorts of boring things that lead them to only giving you 2% a year. There are all sorts of math, charts, theories, and power point presentations behind that 2%. You’d be amazed.

So, you want tips? Here are some tips:

Do research. is evil, and I’m not just saying that cuz I’m a mean old HR hag who sucks the joy out of life and wants to make sure no one in the world makes the salary they deserve. While some of that may be true, everyone should understand that the data on is not always good data. Compensation data collection is a bit of a science that involves benchmarking job duties, factoring in things like experience, industry, geography, trends, etc. A lot of comp professionals think that data still includes information from the tech boom (wasn’t that like, 100 years ago now? I find this dubious, but I still hear that theory a lot).

It’s kind of like when you are watching Pawn Stars (theoretically) and some dude is trying to sell the storm trooper helmet he made from scratch out of marshmallow fluff. The big guy behind the counter asks: “How much do you want for it?” Nerd with sticky fingers says: “I’ve seen them on the internet for $1,000” Big guys comes back with: “Yeah, but is anyone buying them for a $1,000?” So there you go, is like a storm trooper helmet made of marshmallow fluff, everyone thinks they’re worth something, but no one’s willing to pay for them. Or, in simpler less abstract terms, something (or someone) is only worth what someone (or some company) is willing to pay for it (or them). Yes, that was my less abstract explanation, sue me. Wait! Don’t sue me.

So how do you do research? If you belong to a professional organization, you might want to start there. Or, one thing I’ve done in the past is look at Monster or Careerbuilder, or yes, even Craigslist. Sometimes companies will list the salary range they are looking for in their job ads. Find a job that sounds like what you do and see what others are willing to pay right now, in your geographic area. And here’s a good side benefit, maybe you’ll find a better paying job somewhere else!

Other salary data out there: check the websites of staffing agencies. Robert Half, Accountemps, etc. all post salary guides which are usually free. Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics ( publishes salary data. The key here is to make sure you are looking at a position that has similar duties to your position and is in a similar geographic or metropolitan location, titles don’t count.

Market yourself.

Remember how I said that compensation is a marketplace? Figure out what you know or what you have done that makes you worth more. Maybe you’ve gotten a certification (or maybe you should). Maybe you saved the company millions of dollars when you managed that software implementation. Make a list. Focus on ways that you have added value to your department and the organization. Be persuasive. Don’t be coy.

Specialize/Find a Niche.

Look for areas in your job and/or your company where you can specialize. Look for underserved areas, or maybe complex areas. Think of it this way: if you are a receptionist, it doesn’t really matter what industry you work in or where you live. It’s not too difficult for your company to find a receptionist to do that job. However, let’s say you are a computer programmer who just happens to know the particular programming language that your company uses that is very rare and specific to the industry. In this case, there are few people who can do that job, and they probably get a premium for their knowledge. Not to say anything bad about being a receptionist, but it’s kind of like being a silver Honda Civic, they’re reliable but everywhere. However, if you are the programmer in this example, you are the lime green Lamborghini, you may be ugly as sin but you’re rare and super cool. And rare and super cool can equal money in the bank.


The most successful way I have ever seen to get a raise that is higher than the yearly merit-cost of living-token 2%, is to find another job that wants to pay you more and then threaten to quit. It’s a sad fact that most companies will only give you a raise if you leave. It sucks, but it’s true. Hiring and training your replacement is more costly, and more annoying than paying you more. But, here’s a warning that applies to any advice I’ve ever given you: I’m speaking in generalities. I’ve also seen this backfire on people, so don’t make the threat unless you mean it. However, I think it’s healthy to stay in touch with the marketplace, send your resume out occasionally. Something may come of it, something may not.


You’ll remember that, my dear loyal readers, Mme HR likes to listen to NPR. A month or so ago they were doing a story about how women don’t really know how to negotiate. It was an interesting story, but here was the takeaway for me: I never flat out ask for what I want. I feel like I have mastered the dance, the ploys and manipulations were I talk and ask and suggest about every point in the circle without ever hitting the bulls eye. And when the bulls eye finally gets hit, it is usually someone else’s idea, and I’m freaking exhausted. After listening to this radio story, and processing it through the Rube Goldberg machine that is my mind, I decided to start asking for what I wanted. No more dancing around the real subject, no more prevarication, no more games. Just be direct. And you know what? So far, it’s working. I’m not a 100%, but my first success: I was dealing with a particularly vexing problem that I knew a solution for, and I had come up with all sorts of excuses as to why they would say no to my suggestion, so I was dropping hints and asking for things that were close to what I wanted, but not exactly what I wanted. Then, I just decided to ask for it directly. And I got it. And I was right. I couldn’t stop smiling that day—my best day at work in a long, long time. And, it was so much faster than the usual song and dance.

In the spirit of being direct, I’ll get to the point. You want a raise? Ask for one. What’s the worst that can happen? Even if they say no, you’ve planted some seeds, you’ve kicked open a door that will stay ajar for the next time you want to talk about it. Keep asking. Oh, and shoot for the moon. You want to make $60K a year? Ask for $75K. This is another thing I’ve learned the hard way. I guess that’s why it’s a negotiation, right? Be brave. Don’t come up with the reasons it’s a bad idea before you even ask, don’t hand them the excuses. Let them come up with the reasons it’s a bad idea.

So there you have it, good luck! I wish I could say with any confidence whether or not any of these tips will actually work. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! Maybe you’ll get a raise! Maybe you’ll get a new job! Maybe you’ll get fired! (No, wait, probably not that). Maybe you’ll just get that 2% again, but you were going to get that anyway. So either way, you are that much closer to that Lamborghini! Lime green, really?

Good luck out there,


This post originally appeared on Fierce and Nerdy April, 2013.

Questions Madame HR? Submit them via the handy contact form to the right, or email me here. All questions and stories will be kept confidential!

Don’t Take My Job–Please!

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Dear Madame HR,

I read with interest your answer a few weeks ago for someone who wanted to be laid off from their job. I have been laid off from my job and I absolutely did not want to be. I am in shock. I don’t know what to do now? Any advice?

Don’t take my job—please

Dear Please,

Gosh, I’m sorry, and I mean that sincerely, I really do. I understand what it feels like to be suddenly separated from your job. Did you know that in some countries they call it being made “redundant?” How freaking insulting is that? I mean, it’s bad enough to lose your job, but then to have the added injury of being called redundant. It’s almost as if they are adding on the extra commentary that you are boring, or superfluous, surplus, unwanted, unneeded, disused. And no, I’m not quoting Morrissey lyrics from 1986, I’m using my Microsoft Word handy thesaurus gizmo. Thank god we live in America, where we go in the opposite direction by coming up with the euphemism: “reduction in force.” In other words, “it’s not your fault, Johnny, we just don’t need as much force as we used to.” We also like to use “separation” now instead of “termination” like the end result is somehow different. Oh language, is there no limit to the ways we can use you to try and make something seem better than it actually is?

Anyway, I digress. You ask what to do now, but you don’t give me many details so I will have to make some assumptions, I apologize if I’m totally off base.

Because of the WARN Act (The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act), if you were part of a mass layoff, there are certain things your company has to do when they lay you off. One of those is notify you 60 calendar days in advance. There are some other things they have to do as well, so if you think you fall under this, Google it and read the info on the DOL website.

Also, if others were laid off at the same time as you, whether or not it qualifies as a “mass” layoff under WARN, there are other things your employer has to do. If you are over 40, for example, they have to provide you a list of all the positions they have eliminated and the ages of the people affected. They also have to tell you the ages of people who are in similar positions to those that were eliminated but who were retained. Basically, what they are getting at here, is they don’t want companies to just layoff all their old people, and if they do, they want the old people to know about it. And I’m not going to insert commentary here about how freaking insulting it is that 40 is their boundary between “old” and “not old,” but I guess I just did. Most employees are mortified when they receive this document, by the way, it feels like a humongous breach of privacy to me (even though we don’t put names, everyone knows who we are talking about).  For all you Googlers out there, this provision falls under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission- EEOC (specifically the Age Discrimination Employment Act- ADEA).

When you were separated from your job, they probably gave you a bunch of paperwork to sign. These documents usually fall into a couple of categories, there is the normal term paperwork, saying that you received your paycheck, that you have been notified of your COBRA rights, that you have turned in your keys, etc. There may also be a release agreement offering you a severance package. This does not need to be signed on your term date, in fact, depending on the nature of the layoff, your age, etc., you have between 14 and 45 days to sign the agreement.

I know you were in shock when this news was delivered. Yes, it’s a little cruel that we dump this on you and then shove a bunch of paperwork under your nose and ask you to sign it. Most of the term paperwork is standard, you aren’t really promising your first born child and giving away anything by signing. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it. And, if you’ve already signed it days ago without reading it, read it now. Make sure you actually didn’t, in fact, promise your first born child. If you did, I hope you aren’t currently pregnant. But you probably aren’t, cuz then they probably wouldn’t have laid you off, but that’s a different post entirely. However, the release for your severance, I’d wait a few days before signing that.

Why? Well, read the document. A general severance agreement has you acknowledging some stuff, like:

  1. You’ve received all monies and  benefits due to you
  2. You have no pending complaints or charges against the company
  3. You won’t file a lawsuit
  4. You release all known and unknown claims (usually includes fraud, breach of contract, wrongful discharge, intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress (my personal favorite), the list goes on and on and on.
  5. A whole bunch of legal language like “Ambiguities” and “Counterparts.”

If you looked at the list of things they are asking you to sign away and thought to yourself, “hey, that’s me!” maybe you should show this thing to a lawyer before you sign it. If you’re slapping your forehead right now because you just blindly signed it and didn’t actually read it, I hope you are over 40. Why? Because if you are over 40, usually you have a right to revoke within 7 days of signing (there’s that pesky ADEA again). Now might be the time to exercise that right if you don’t feel kosher about things.

Here are a few more things to think about:

  1. Severance is negotiable. Sure, they have some sort of crazy ass formula (2 weeks for every 10 years, or some such nonsense). However, think of it this way: they want you to sign this document. They really really really really want you to sign it. So, don’t get greedy, but ask for more. Make it something that makes sense. Like some sort of multiple of your annual salary or x amount of dollars for every year. The worst they can say is no, but if you are reasonable, I think they will at least bump up their original offer. By asking and not blindly signing, you have moved yourself into a worrisome category for them and an extra $5,000 or $10,000 is small potatoes to make you go away (especially if they laid off a bunch of people at once).
  2. Severance is taxable as earnings, damn you IRS! And most will tax at the supplemental rate which is 25% Fed, 6.6% state (if you are in CA, rate varies by state), 7.65% FICA (I hate that guy), disability, etc. etc. Usually totaling around 40%. So, yes, that dollar figure they’ve given you might sound really good to you right now, but prepare yourself for sticker shock when you actually get your check.
  3. Severance is not a legal requirement. Maybe they haven’t offered you severance at all, if so, then sorry for spending so much time talking about it. Oh, and if they didn’t offer you severance, ask for it. Why not? If they think they have to worry about you, then it might be worth it to them to pay you money to sign a release of claims (aka severance agreement).

Ok, severance or not, bottom line is: should you sue? Maybe. I don’t know your situation. However, I would advise you to consider that suing is not a slam dunk. Do you have a case? Are there damages you can claim? Will you get more money by suing (don’t forget lawyer fees) then they are already offering you? Lawsuits take a really long time, by the way. It’s kind of like when you are watching Pawn Stars (yes, my favorite TV analogy EVER) and he says: “I’ll pay you in cash money now.” Yes, I’m paying you less than you might get if you went to auction or that you might get on ebay, or wherever. However, here we are right now and I have cash in my hand—that can be worth a lot.

You asked me what you should do, if I have any advice for you. I do have some ideas:

  1. Don’t take it personally- especially if this layoff involved more than one person and wasn’t one of those “Let’s call it a layoff” to get rid of one person that we’re afraid to discipline in a meaningful way.
  2. Don’t panic- if you like reading my columns, I have one for job seekers (yes, it was tailored to more entry level job seekers, but some of the tips still apply)
  3. File for unemployment. There is no shame in that.
  4. If you received a severance agreement, think about it for a little bit before you sign. If there is something fishy going on, call a lawyer to discuss your concerns.
  5. Did your company offer you outplacement assistance? If so, take advantage of that. If not, ask for it. Outplacement assistance can take many forms but usually involves resume and interviewing coaching.
  6. Build up your network. Again, you don’t have to be ashamed. Send out your resume to others you worked with, vendors, competitors, etc. Post your situation on Facebook and LinkedIn and all those other online places. Don’t be crazy about it, just let everyone know you are looking.
  7. Be mindful of your deadlines. How long until you have to send back that severance agreement? Don’t miss your COBRA deadline! What else?
  8. Stock up on some good inspirational Facebook memes. (Is it just me or does anyone else think these things look like little PowerPoint slides from the seventh circle of hell?) Find one that says something like: “Failure is not a stop sign, Hope makes it a yield sign.” With a picture of two roads crossing in the middle of nowhere. Or, how about: “When one door closes just keep knocking until someone asks ‘who’s there?’” You know what I’m talking about. Print it out, stick it in a place you will see it. You can do it! (On a side note, have you ever been to I’m not supposed to say this but their demotivater posters are my favorite things in the whole wide world. I will silently scroll through them on a particular bad afternoon and they soothe my soul. But I’m kind of a sarcastic bitch.)

“You’ll survive this” (picture of a tiger licking his chops), “Every cloud has a silver lining” (picture of a cloud (I know, kind of on the nose)), “it’s always darkest before the dawn” (blank blacked out picture). I wish you good luck and piles of money from your prior employer, hopefully the government won’t take it all.

Good luck out there,



This post originally appeared on Fierce and Nerdy July 23, 2013.

Questions Madame HR? Submit them via the handy contact form to the right, or email me here. All questions and stories will be kept confidential!