According to LayoffsTracker, November has been the hardest hit month of the year when it comes to tech layoffs. So far, 100 companies have let go of nearly 50,000 employees as they try to ensure the long-term survival of their businesses (that’s a quarter of the 200,000 layoffs in 2022). Recently added to that figure was Amazon’s plan to eliminate 10,000 jobs in the coming weeks, mostly across their devices, retail, and HR divisions. And we’re just over halfway through the month.
It’s been tough seeing so many posts from friends and associates within my own circle who have had to reenter the recruiting circuit sooner than they had planned, and my heart goes out to anyone who is in that uncomfortable and challenging situation.
As the economy cools and companies make decisions to freeze hiring or even to remove existing jobs, this will undoubtedly have a major effect on the morale at any company likely to be affected.
Over my time formally advising company leaders and informally helping friends in my network during restructuring periods, I’ve seen that these three areas have outsized influence on how well downsizing news is received, and the ability of retrenched employees to find and land a new opportunity.
Accountable, Visible Leadership + Support
Leaders can buffer the blow when layoffs happen by taking personal responsibility and ensuring that they do their best to help retrenched teammates land softly.
Patrick Collison, CEO of Stripe, exemplified this in his all-hands email to employees, where he admitted that he and his leadership team made “very consequential mistakes” regarding the growth forecasts when the market was booming in 2021 as well as in the downside forecasts when the market began to tank earlier this year. As such, when they eliminated 14% of the roles at the company earlier this month, they pledged to pay severance, honor bonuses and unused PTO, provide 6 months of healthcare, and offer career and immigration support to transitioning employees.
While these efforts of course don’t replace being gainfully employed, support mechanisms at least give a bit of breathing room so that retrenched employees can begin to plan their next steps.
Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst
It’s certainly a silver lining in a dark cloud whenever company leadership backs their employees til the very end, but let’s be real, we can’t always rely on our employers to ‘do us a solid’ when they make the decision to downsize (see Twitter, for example).
In the weekly newsletter that Aziza Sheerin and I write for senior operators in tech, we recently discussed how managers can more effectively deliver bad news to their team members, as well as how to always stay prepared to re-enter the job search phase in case you happen to be on the receiving end of a cost-cutting decision.
There’s one important aspect of career control & preparedness that we didn’t touch on in the newsletter. And I’d go so far as to say it’s one of the most crucial insurance plans that you can have, and one that you should develop early and cultivate often throughout your career.
While community might seem like a generic or catch-all term, how you manage your universe of professional relationships can have a significant impact on how you find job opportunities as well as how likely you are to get a job offer after interviewing. Let’s look at a few stats:
- 80% of critical jobs are filled through networks and 70% of jobs are never advertised
- One analysis showed that while only a small number of applicants came from referrals, up to 40% of hires were referrals
- Professional and personal networks shrunk by close to 16% during the pandemic
One takeaway from the above is that layoffs in the current environment are especially challenging, largely because the networks we’ve cultivated and maintained through past economic downturns have stagnated or declined in recent years due to the pandemic.
If I had one piece of advice, it would be to encourage you to take proactive steps to strengthen your ties to a professional community (including mentors, sponsors, and peers), who can help you chart your career path through both good and bad times.
We wrote a post about how to be a better networker, and ardently believe that when it comes to building a network, you should always give more than you take, and nurture it before you need it.
By building trusted relationships with those who know your goals and capabilities, you’re able to maintain a steady pulse on the market and be in an advantageous position whenever you need to set sail for new career horizons.
If you’ve recently been laid off, and I’m connected to any of the companies you’re interested in, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Each week we publish a curated digest of articles, insights, and frameworks for senior tech operators. You can check it out at https://stride-newsletter.beehiiv.com/