The Great Layoff

No matter how you feel about social media and tech companies, particularly Twitter, Facebook’s parent Meta, and other businesses that have cumulatively laid off thousands of talented workers, the reality is that most of these people will land on their feet. Regardless of the reasons why massive layoffs happen, it’s a periodic fact of business. When times are good and businesses are growing, people get hired. When there are questions about the economy, interest rates and inflation, ad revenues drop, sales fall off and growth isn’t happening as expected, people get laid off. But because of the size and name recognition of these companies, the news of employee exodus generates ongoing and sometimes depressing headlines.


These types of companies are greatly influenced by (among many factors) the connections of those throughout their enterprise. Staff are onboarded as much through interpersonal networking and direct referral by current employees as through external recruitment. Management encourages the referral of potential employees because it generates the instant benefits of familiarity and trust when staff are working beside people they already know. Sometimes companies offer incentives to employees who help the company fill important positions. Candidates referred by current employees are less expensive to recruit, usually require less time to get up to speed on work, and feel comfortable in their new environment faster.


So, while these tech behemoths let go of so many workers, and that “comfort level” of working with familiars disappears. one questions whether there really is a decline in the tech sector? While seemingly the answer is yes, the real situation is a lot more complex.


Right now, across the country, labor statistics convey that unemployment claims are down, indicating that people are getting hired, in spite of the layoffs in tech. And for the most part, within the tech sectors, hiring remains as strong as it appears to be in other employment categories. Mega-corporations may be laying off thousands of employees, but they are also investing in new enterprises and technologies and hope to be creating almost as many jobs as they canceled in their own ranks.


“Economic concerns” is one of the “excuses” big companies are using for the reasons behind the layoffs. But it’s not that simple! When you consider the tremendous number of workers who are still doing their jobs remotely – and many of whom may not return to regular 9-5 office hours – fewer people are descending into urban work centers, creating tax revenue losses for the big cities. If people aren’t going to their offices, everything else around those hubs is affected. Fewer people are eating in restaurants, there are fewer commuters, dry cleaners are pressing fewer suits, etc. Lower tax revenues affect local emergency services like police and fire. When less local tax revenue is being generated, businesses take a cautionary approach. Laying off hundreds of staff frees up corporate cash to make other investments, but those local tax coffers do not get as rapidly replenished.


The Covid Pandemic demonstrated that there are multiple ways to get work done. The old 9-5 paradigm is fading. The fears that corporate leaders had about remote work have, for the most part, diminished dramatically, and been embraced as an acceptable way to conduct business. Add to that extensive experimentation in 3- & 4-day work-weeks and the picture of how business gets done continues to evolve. The big corner office has little meaning when there are fewer minions to oversee. Large offices with open work areas are wasting away while workers do their jobs from home or co-working spaces, creating excess inventories of available workspaces. Again, this affects local tax revenues. This evolution will continue, particularly as the pandemic becomes endemic. There will continue to be a high volume of corporate belt-tightening that will result in major layoffs. But in time (who knows how much time?!?) things will settle down, more people will return to downtown business centers and the new ways of doing things will become the norm.


So, despite all the doom and gloom forecasts about the economy, the situation really isn’t that dire. People are filling jobs all over the place. And if you have the skills and interest – along with the ability to convey that you can do a particular job – there’s a strong likelihood that you can get hired. But the emphasis here is on that italicized phrase. The biggest obstacle to getting hired is whether one can effectively present themselves as an appropriate candidate to fill an opening.


If you’ve been the victim of the great layoff, dust off your resume, reach out to your network, update your professional online profiles and hit the ground running. Don’t let the fear of economic downturns or recessions hold you back from pursuing the work you were meant to do. You’ll look back on “The Great Layoff” as just another blip in a long line of obstacles all workers face. Another job awaits!


#     #     #