There’s been a round of layoffs in so-called tech companies recently. In this January only, industry giants like Amazon, Microsoft and Google all let go more than ten thousands of employees, respectively. Many others also laid off a sizable chunk of their workforce. Vimeo, Salesforce, Wayfair, Coinbase, and most recently IBM and SAP… The list is only growing. And earlier this week, Spotify joined them, letting go about 6% of the company.
Once I learned that I was still hired, my immediate reaction was that of relief. Relieved that I made the cut and was not getting thrown back into the job market—especially now when so many accomplished people are back to competing for new roles. Selfish, I know, but how couldn’t I? Having started my career in markedly less competitive and dynamic environments (i.e. government and non-profit), I never before experienced such a degree of uncertainty and job insecurity.
The feeling of relief didn’t last long, however, as I came to a visceral realization that, on the individual level, no clear and effective preventative measure are to be found against such layoffs. The laid off ones were no slackers or underperformers. Many were seniors with a great deal of experience and long tenure (often decades!) under their belt, but those didn’t make much difference. These layoffs seem to be carried out with no clear reason or rhyme except that there were some target numbers to hit—like 6%.
So I’ve survived somewhow this time. But next time? The only hope seems to be in the right place at the right time, contributing to the right kind of projects.