Brace For Impact: 5 Tips For Tech Workers Facing Layoffs

Amazon released 18,000 people in the last 12 months.

Meta, 13,000.

Microsoft, 10,000 just this month.

And when Big Tech makes changes, the rest of Silicon Valley takes notice. Which means, if you work in tech, you better believe your leaders are asking themselves, “Do we really need all these people to achieve our goals?”

If you work in tech and layoffs aren’t on your mind, you are superhuman.

Don’t let yourself be caught off guard. Pack your parachute, before you need it.

Here are 5 tips for tech workers who are worried about getting swept away in the tech layoffs of 2023:

Tip #1: Listen for signal. Companies are not doing amazing one day and then laying 30% of their workforce the next. Leaders talk.

  • They make plans.
  • They evaluate budgets.
  • Last minute meetings get called.
  • Roadmaps are trimmed and scrutinized.
  • The tone changes, “we have a huge opportunity, but it won’t be easy.”

Pay attention to what’s going around and listen to your intuition.

Tip #2: Separate work and personal files. If you do get impacted by a layoff and you are not prepared, you will have zero time to grab your personal files, passwords, useful templates you created (or brought with you).

It’s annoying to keep separate files, but you will be glad when you are asked to mail your computer back within 5 hours of receiving notice that “your services are no longer needed” and all your company access has been shut-off.

Tip #3: Pre-plan a list of questions for HR. This one sounds weird. A bit like planning for your funeral, but if you find yourself caught off guard and listening to HR explain the layoff situation, your mind will be racing and not thinking about what you should be asking.

Ask questions about:

  • 401K
  • Benefits
  • Referrals
  • Stock Options

Think ahead and get those questions down.

Tip #4: Negotiate your severance. If you find yourself sitting in front of HR unexpectedly on afternoon, do not just take what your company offers. Negotiate. A severance is no different than a salary negotiation.

Remind your employer of the value you have provided during your tenure and the situation they are placing you in. You might not think you have any leverage, but you do. Your voice in the marketplace about the company matters to them. They want to treat you right (and if they don’t there’s more to the story).

Tip #5: Don’t burn any bridges. Business is business. Be gracious in your exit and don’t burn any bridges while you are emotional or thinking irrationally.

Chances are that percentage based layoff was decided by someone several tiers removed from you who is making the decision strictly on numbers. You would probably make the same decision if it were your own money.

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Project leader. Product thinker. Write about human things. Find me at justinzack.com

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