After the RIF notice, before you leave

Family Update

In light of Sun’s current circumstances, here is an update of what I think is my most popular blog entry: “After the RIF notice, before you leave” (15 January 2009).

My husband, John Plocher, was laid off from Sun in November 2008 and (despite many interviews) is still looking for work. If anyone is looking to hire a senior software architect with extensive open source experience, please contact John!

This has been a wild year for our family. A few weeks after I wrote my “After the RIF notice..” blog entry, our son Paul ended up in emergency brain surgery. Paul recovered from that but still has constant terrible headaches. After finishing his Junior year at the hospital school, Paul is happy to be back in his regular High School for his Senior year. He plans to go to college next year. Having John off work during this time of medical adventures has been sortof a blessing.


During the last year, we have found a good many things we wished we had thought to do before John was laid off. Additional items on this list were generously suggested to me from people who read my original 15 January blog entry. I eventually realized that official company sources are limited in what they can tell people. So, this unofficial list, while just based on limited observations and experience, turns out to have been of unique value to a variety of people. RIF stands for “Reduction in Force”, also known as a lay off or restructuring.

Here are my opinions of some good actions to consider after the termination notice but before you leave Sun and lose your SunWeb access (and some actions to consider after). Some of these actions may only be appropriate for Sun staff in California since circumstances may differ from state-to-state, and country-to-country. Some actions – like joining LinkedIn – are good ideas whether you are staying or leaving. Usual disclaimers apply. Your mileage may vary. May contain nuts.

First, if you have to leave Sun involuntarily, please accept my appreciation for your work. After  25 years of working here, I know that Sun is a great company. Even if I never knew or worked with you, I thank you for your contribution and I am sorry you have been laid off. Check out “A Tribute to Sun Microsystems” and remember your good times.

What to do immediately

  1. Before your SunWeb access shuts down, print out copies of key records:
    – Current and last year paycheck history
    – Company training history
    – Stock option history and status
    – Health benefit elections
    – Vacation balance
    – Past annual performance review documents
    Many of these records will just go away and be unavailable by any means soon after your last day in the office. You may need your training history for a future certification, and you will certainly need your vacation balance to apply for unemployment. This is your one and only chance to get copies.
  2. Immediately locate all personal internet identities (personal accounts, groups, billing, etc.) that you have communicating with your email address, and change them to your personal email address. It is easy to set up a gmail account where you can continue to manage your billpay, website subscriptions and email lists after your Sun account goes away. Moving accounts will take time and those organizations may continue to send updates and confirmations to you
    for days or even weeks. Start this move soon!
  3. Your Sun home directory will go away very shortly after your last office day. If you have personal email in your Sun home directory, move it or copy it to a home server or your personal laptop before your Sun home directory disappears. Gmail has a way to upload old messages from other email accounts. Don’t copy anything that belongs to Sun.
  4. If you have not already done so, use your Employee Giving matching grant for the current year. If you do not have a SunWeb account (and you will not), you cannot take advantage of this benefit even if you are laid off long before the end of the calendar year.
  5. Create a account or use your existing account to post a brief and professional going away message including at least your LinkedIn reference. Your postings stay available after you are gone.
  6. Change your Sun voice mail outgoing message with a new professionally phrased reference to your home phone or other non-Sun phone number.

What to do later

Resources which may help and actions to consider later:

  1. Sun provides some very good benefits to RIFed staff. Use any coaching services offered as part of your package (such as the excellent Right Management service). Let the service review your resume before you send it out. Join their networking groups.
  2. Think through your health, dental, vision, and life insurance choices and application timelines. Read your RIF package carefully. If the staff member who is laid off is the spouse of a continuing Sun staff member, talk with Human Resources (SunDial) soon about when and how you can initiate a “Qualifying Life Event Change” to provide insurance coverage to the RIFed spouse.
  3. File for Unemployment Insurance (UI) immediately. In most states there is at least a one week waiting period and some states may have more. In California, you can apply for Unemployment Insurance from the day of your notification (while you may still have months yet to receive Sun paychecks).
    If you are asked by the California Employment Development Department, do not call money Sun provides you after the 60-day WARN notification period “severance”. It is accurate to call it “payment to forestall legal action”.  More about the 60 days of WARN pay: The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. I am told that while WARN is a type of “in lieu of” pay, WARN should NOT disqualify you from receiving UI benefits. For even more about this, read EDD’s Total and Partial Unemployment TPU 460.37.
    Here is Sun’s address and phone number which you will need for the EDD paperwork – from Sun’s 2008 Annual Report:

    Sun Microsystems, Inc.
    4150 Network Circle Santa Clara, CA 95054
    (650) 960-1300

  4. In the San Francisco Bay Area, there is a networking and lunch group called CSix where job hunters share ideas and leads. Similar formal or informal groups probably exist elsewhere.
  5. Review and update your resume. Create one or more cover letter templates. Review and confirm your references. (You need to know that Sun and other companies have a policy against giving job references.) Brush up on your interview skills.
  6. Buy a current-year copy of the book What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles. This book is available in many languages (French, Korean, Russian, Turkish…). Also check out the resources on Dick Bolles’ web site: JobHuntersBible.Com
  7. Join LinkedIn – a social networking web site for professionals who want to extend their contacts. Follow LinkedIn’s advice to create your complete profile. Be diligent in linking to your former Sun coworkers so that you don’t lose each other once you are no longer Use LinkedIn to recommend people you think highly of and also ask them to recommend you. There are several LinkedIn Sun Alumni groups, including SUNAlumni. Sun Engineering SEED mentoring program alumni can join the SEED LinkedIn group.
  8. Join the Sun Microsystems Alumni Association “The network is the people”
  9. Consider other social networking sites such as Facebook which has several Sun Alumni groups, including: The Sun Microsystems Alumni Group, Sun Alumni on Facebook, and others. Facebook also has a “SEED Engineering Mentoring Program” Fan Page. Plaxo is another good networking, address book site.
  10. Participate in Sun Alumni Blogs
  11. Make your own business cards so that you can easily tell contacts your new email and phone. John and I like the designs at Overnight Prints.
  12. Make doctor, dentist, and other health care appointments soon, so you are seen while you are still insured. Renew prescriptions that are close to refills. The U.S.  COBRA continuation health insurance coverage isn’t always the same as the coverage you had before.
  13. Consider creating a special job seeking email address at or Make it professional, not cute.
  14. A job searching and recruitment web site which some people have recommended is
    – “career website for technology and engineering professionals”
  15. A job searching web site which some people have recommended is “to search job sites, newspapers, associations and company career pages”

Keep active and keep networking. Volunteer while looking for work. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and need a good cause, you are welcome to join John and me in helping inner city San Jose kids in the computer club at SMUM.

Don’t lose touch with Sun people you care about. As John says, there are only really 100 people in the Silicon Valley, everyone else is just there to create traffic jams.


Filed under Home & Family, News & Reviews

2 responses to “After the RIF notice, before you leave

  1. Great blog Katy! It’s full of very important and useful info. Best of luck to you and your family.

  2. Pingback: Unemployment Reporting, EfM | KatysBlog

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