Tuesday was April Fools. An announcement on the blog said Jason Alba was laid off.
That, my friends, was an April Fools joke.
I mistakenly scheduled the blog post for the day after about a week ago, without realizing that 4/2 should have been THIS post. So here’s some of the before and after of JibberJobber’s April Fools for 2014:
In 2011 I wrote a really fun April Fools saying we would lay off the boss who laid you off. It was really quite funny, and had a bunch of JibberJobber users, people who were in-between jobs, who said SIGN ME UP!! Even after knowing it was a prank, they still would have loved to have their bosses laid off.
I skipped the next two years because I was too uncreative to figure something out, but around last April I had the idea of me, the guy who talks about layoffs all the time, the guy who owns his own company, and talks about income security, so “no one can take away 100% of your income,” and all of that stuff, to actually be laid off… from his own company!
About a week ago I wrote the draft and passed it by two people: the owner of a PR firm, and a resume writer. Both of these people are very precise and know the power and impact of a post like this.
Oh, I also printed off a copy and had my 13 year old son run it upstairs to my wife. He read the headline and got very, very somber, and I think he almost got teary-eyed. He just came to the realization that something very grave happened… I didn’t mean to make him feel like that, but I couldn’t let him in on it until my wife read it. She said it shocked her, too, for a bit, then realized it must be for April Fools. I said our son “was almost in tears…” and she said “I was almost in tears, too!”
“Great,” I thought, “this is going to work :)”
As I slept on it for the next few nights, I wondered what impact this would have, and if I should soften up the message. The private equity guy was an idiot, and the way I portrayed private equity and VCs was not favorable at all. I also bashed on job boards, and their lack of value for job seekers. I even included the company that paid $1B for Indeed.com… that’s a company I don’t necessarily want to make mad.
Would this have a negative impact on my business?
Would announcing my layoff to users who really don’t know me, or my sense of humor, have a negative impact on them, and give them a reason to have doubt about JibberJobber?
Could I take these risks, just for a bit of fun on April 1?
Obviously, I decided to. And I think it is okay…. so far. Hopefully I haven’t done or said anything wrong that is irreparable.
A big part of the prank, in addition to the blog post, was to change my LinkedIn job dates to end in April, and create a new Job:
Notice all of my current stuff is under Previous, and there is no Current… and, when I changed my current title, LinkedIn replaced my cool Professional Headline with that title (I wish they wouldn’t replace it without asking). I even had a cute in my new title. In the actual job I put the link to the URL of the blog post, which if you read, you’d probably figure out it was fake:
So what was the result? As of right now, over 20 comments on the blog post, which is more than normal. 11 tweets, 39 LinkedIn shares, and 32 Facebook likes/shares, also more than normal.
The comments are pretty funny… someone said my mom’s comment was the best (“Do you need to move back in with us???”)… I’m not sure if Alex new it was a prank, Fred Coon’s comments made me laugh because of his wit, Deb and others tip-toed around this just in case it wasn’t a joke, Rabbi (and others) jumped right in offering help and emotional support, and Niall declared a ban on maple syrup exports from Canada until the “injustice is righted”!
You guys are awesome… !
On LinkedIn I got dozens and dozens of messages… I got a lot of LIKES on my new title, and a number of “CONGRATULATIONS!” Someone wrote and said that LinkedIn should be smarter about this – when someone loses their job and changes it to an obvious downgrade in title/status, LinkedIn shouldn’t off a LIKE option.
That makes sense… who would really LIKE or CONGRATULATE someone if they lost their job and are clearly not happy about it. I had a frowny face…. why like or congratulate?
The last time I changed my job, a few months ago (just to update my profile), I had dozens of people who congratulated me… even though these were minor tweaks and were essentially the same titles as before.
I got a lot more responses on LinkedIn, because of the title change, than comments on my blog… again, people having very supportive and kind comments. At one point I almost felt bad for leading people to believe I was in a hurting place.
Oh, let me address one last thing: “who would really LIKE or CONGRATULATE someone if they lost their job and are clearly not happy about it?”
I do it all the time. Not every time, but there are times when someone tells me they lost their job and the only thing I can think of is CONGRATULATIONS! You and I both know it wasn’t the right job or company for you, and you hated it, and there was no more opportunity… I know how much it sucks to get let go. You take it personal, you second-guess yourself, you go through a range of emotions, doubt and depression can set in.
BUT, for many people, including myself, getting laid off was only the nudge I needed to leave a bad situation, which was a choice I wasn’t ready to make on my own. Getting laid off was the beginning of a journey to much better things for me, and I’m convinced that it can be a journey to much better things for many people.
So, while I offer my empathy, I also offer encouragement that in fact this can be a time to say CONGRATULATIONS!