Former Amazon and Apple hiring manager, interviewer, senior Marketing and Sales leader. Co-founder of Day One Careers, mentor, interview and leadership coach.
The first half of November 2022 sent ripples across Big Tech. Of those Big Tech layoffs that are public and confirmed by the companies, Meta and Twitter offloaded 18,500 jobs, according to a Wall Street Journal article. Amazon is rumored to have laid off 10,000 employees. In addition, Snap, Lyft, and smaller Silicon Valley inhabitants announced layoffs of various scales.
I understand how it feels to be laid off, as I’ve experienced it myself. It’s hard not to see it as a criticism of your performance, no matter what LinkedIn experts tell you. Being told that your role is no longer needed and being given the countdown to find a new job is devastating news.
So I pulled together a collection of practical tips for getting back on the horse, based on my experience as a laid-off job seeker and as an interview coach and co-founder of Day One Careers. There are no silver bullets here, so take these thoughts as input and peddle your own canoe.
Stay positive because it’s not about you. No, seriously.
If you’ve been affected by the 2022 Big Tech layoffs, It’s easy to think that your job is gone because there’s something wrong with your performance. But, in reality, it’s about the CEOs and their decisions. Some CEOs, such as Stripe’s Patrick Collison, admitted as much in his internal layoff announcement to the employees.
The truth is that Big Tech layoffs reverse poor decisions made during the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies like Stripe and Amazon over-hired for the pandemic-driven boom in demand that never lasted beyond 2021. Others, such as Snap, over-hired to enter new markets quickly (e.g. mini-apps and games) and couldn’t right-size in time.
Appreciating the reasons for layoffs won’t suddenly get you employed, but it will help you understand that it’s not personal. And that’s a critical perspective to have.
If you’re part of the workforce affected by the Tech layoffs, you’ve probably already posted about it on LinkedIn with an “Open to Work” tag. That’s a great way to restart networking, especially if you haven’t done so for a while. However, I’d encourage you to take an even more proactive stance to build (or rebuild) your connections.
Reach out to people you know and ask for job leads or intros. Outside the biggest US-based employers like Amazon, Meta, and Google, most jobs aren’t open-posted before they are filled. Therefore, the people you know are your best bet for finding a new role.
If you don’t have specific leads, ask for advice on your job search. Most people are happy to help and feel good about themselves when they can be of service to those affected by the layoffs. Plus, it’s a great way to keep in touch with your network and expand it simultaneously.
Give that resume a good old scrub
If you’ve been affected by the layoffs and you haven’t interviewed for jobs for a while, you’ll have some writing to do. First, you’ll need an up-to-date resume tailored to the roles you’re applying for. Here are some practical tips to spruce it up.
First, check the basics: Are your contact details current? Have you removed any old jobs or experiences that are no longer relevant?
Second, look closely at the language you’re using to describe your skills and experience. Is it still accurate and up-to-date? For example, if you’re a software engineer, have you kept your skills current with the latest programming languages and frameworks?
Third, make sure your recent accomplishments are up-to-date. For example, have you added any new projects, technologies, or responsibilities to your current role?
Lastly, consider having your resume professionally rewritten. Again, it’s worth the investment, especially if you’re applying for senior roles. A skilled resume writer will know how to position your experience in the best light and make you look like an ideal candidate. Make sure you do your homework before committing to pay someone. Ask to speak to previous clients, check if they have happy customers commenting on their LinkedIn posts, and ensure you understand what happens if you’re not happy with the end product.
Set boundaries for your time investment in job hunting
It’s far too easy to sit at your computer at home, endlessly searching job boards, tweaking your resume, and applying for jobs. They say job hunting is full-time, and they’re probably right. But it’s a job where success is rare, and more often than not, it’s a disheartening slog. So, set some boundaries for yourself as if it were your job. When will you start each day? When will you end each day? What are your goals and tasks for that day, deliver them and stop.
It’s important to have times in your day when you aren’t a “job hunter” to give your mind and soul a break from the pressure of it.
Brush up on skills or learn something new
Your mental health needs to keep achieving, especially when you’re not working. Having purpose and goals is essential to our well-being. That doesn’t change because you’ve been affected by the layoffs, and you’re not on someone’s payroll.
Check out your local education institutes and see if they’re offering anything; this has the bonus of getting you out of the house. If not, a fantastic array of free courses is available across the web from top-tier universities like Harvard, Stanford, and Yale and businesses like Google and Microsoft. If there was always a skill you wish you had time to learn, now is that time.
Don’t switch careers yet (Tech layoffs are not the end of Tech)
Despite recent layoffs by some of the biggest technology firms in the business, Tech is not dead (so there is no need to switch careers). Here’s why.
First, the layoffs in Big Tech are due to poor decisions, not a lack of innovation or demand for tech-intensive products. The industry is broadening its focus from hardware and services to artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and other cutting-edge technologies. The nature of Tech is that it’s in the constant state of reinventing itself.
Second, Big Tech is not the only game in town. Hundreds of tech SMEs that aren’t running layoffs continue hiring and investing in innovative technologies. As a result, these firms are more agile and can make decisions quickly without over-hiring during economic booms.
Finally, there is a growing number of opportunities for tech talent in the more traditional industries such as banking, insurance, consumer goods, and retail. These companies are turning to Tech to improve their operations and customer experience. For example, banks use Big Data and AI to fight financial crime, while retailers use robotics to automate their warehouses and move more of their traditional business online.
Consider ditching The US. At least for now.
Finally, I know this is hard to imagine, especially if you’re on an H1B visa and keen to settle in the US. But it may be time to make yourself available for opportunities outside the country, at least in theory.
While Big Tech layoffs have been felt worldwide, the US has been particularly hard. The good news is that plenty of countries welcome tech talent with open arms. For example, Canada launched a new Fast-Track Work Permit program for certain in-demand occupations, including many tech roles. Alternatively, you could consider relocating to an up-and-coming startup hub such as Berlin, Lisbon or Tallinn.
Of course, moving to another country is a big decision and not one to be made lightly. But if stars are not aligning for you in the US, it may be worth considering international jobs as a viable option.
Although nothing will take away the shock of a layoff, I hope this article has added a few ideas on how to manage this period of your career. As much as it is hard to believe, Big Tech layoffs are not the end of the world or even the end of Tech.
So, don’t give up just yet. Keep networking, keep applying, and keep your head up. Tech will come back stronger than ever – and you can too.