The Elephant in the Room: Layoffs

Welcome to my new blog/newsletter/whatever you call these things these days. I figured it would be good to start off on a lighter note and the reason I'm here: tech layoffs.

LAYOFF rubber stamp on paper with paper pins in the background. 3D illustration Bilal

Yes, I've been impacted

I've been wanting to create a software career and process-oriented blog for a while. It's always in the gray areas of corporate policy. Having just been laid off, I felt like this was the best time to start.

I think a little background is important, though.

I've actually been affected by 2 layoffs in 2023. In January, Salesforce went through a large round of layoffs on the first day of the year. I was not one of the people who lost a job in that round, but my team was deeply affected. Our product manager's role was eliminated. Several of the teams we partnered with lost lead engineers, product managers, managers, and more. All of this occurring just 2 days before I informed my manager that I was also leaving.

You see, I had been doing a quiet job search for a few months. Looking for a job during the holidays is always a bit of chaos due to vacation schedules, travel, and illnesses that are so pervasive at that time of year. My final interviews for the job I'd eventually take were on the first couple work days of 2023.

So I wasn't laid off by Salesforce, but it still felt very close to home.

Fast forward to August 1, and it was my turn. After less than 6 months on the job, my job didn't exist anymore. Many great people were affected, and that's mostly it for now. When I'm not on "garden leave" anymore, I might have more to say. More likely, I'll just let it be.

Spare me the platitudes

2023 has been the year of reading layoff announcements on LinkedIn. I find that they roughly fall into two categories: just saying it and platitudes.

The "just saying it" camp often shows up as the basic announcement that they're in the market for a new job. I really can't argue with that. So far, that's basically what I've done.

Platitudes posts are the ones that talk about the great opportunities and how lucky they were to have the job and how grateful they are to the very people who decided they were disposable and on and on and on.

The end result for the person posting the message is the same. People know you got laid off. You get some reactions, comments, pointers to potential jobs, etc. I worry, though, about everyone else.

It's OK to be sad, angry, and disappointed

There are not enough negative emotions in these posts. People lost their jobs, their income, and their subsidized healthcare. Family dynamics are interrupted. Financial situations are altered. Some people will have to relocate for their next position. Being angry, hurt, or sad is NORMAL.

Can good come from this? Sure. Do you HAVE to be grateful to the company which decided you weren't worth the money? Absolutely not!

So this is my angry post. I was given a role that wasn't even open when I applied. They basically opened it for me. They created the role without acknowledging the realities of their situation. Tech hiring was nearly frozen when I started and completely frozen a couple months later.

Would I have been better off with my 2nd choice offer? Maybe. They also had layoffs in the Spring. That doesn't mean I need to be happy about the situation or grateful to the people who overextended their budget.

I'm fortunate

I am privileged and fortunate to have the resources I have. I have a long career at major companies, a resume that's only a few months out of date, and many connections at other companies. Many of my colleagues who were affected don't have these things. They spent years in their roles and suddenly find themselves with a couple months before the money stops flowing in. I feel for them, no matter what type of post they put on LinkedIn.

I'm going to set up some open mentoring slots soon. It will be linked from this site[1]. If you're going through layoffs or any software engineering career struggles, I want to help, even if that just means listening.

Good luck to all my friends and colleagues looking for new jobs. I hope you find something amazing!

  1. Update: It's here. ↩︎