Tech workers face unexpected layoff rebounds

Emre Çitak
Apr 18, 2023

In the aftermath of being laid off from some of Seattle's most prominent tech companies, former employees are confronted with a baffling proposition: Would they consider rejoining the very organization that just let them go?

However, these offers come with a caveat. Third-party recruiters, eager to place these workers back at their previous companies, are presenting contract positions instead of full-time roles. These positions are accompanied by an expiration date, reduced salaries, no benefits, and a lack of stock options. Consequently, for many workers, these messages are perceived as anything from insensitive to downright insulting.

Former employees speak out

A former Microsoft employee who experienced a layoff in March expressed frustration, stating that they just received the "shock of their life" and didn't need recruiters persistently pushing them to return to the company. Another worker, laid off from Amazon in January, also requested anonymity due to concerns about future job prospects.

They mentioned receiving multiple offers from recruiters specifically seeking people with Amazon experience. In response, this ex-Amazonian sarcastically told the recruiter to inform Amazon that if they wanted an engineer, they shouldn't have fired them.

Recruitment during layoffs

Tech giants such as Amazon and Microsoft often supplement their recruitment with third-party firms, which help find suitable candidates for new roles, particularly contract positions. Despite ongoing layoffs, these recruiters continue their efforts. Amazon has cut 27,000 jobs since November, while Microsoft announced plans to eliminate 10,000 roles this year. As a result, recently laid-off workers are still getting caught in the pool of potential candidates, whether they want to be or not.

There is a constant turnover of people in big tech companies

The recruiter's perspective

From the recruiter's viewpoint, contacting workers with experience at the same company is logical even if they were recently laid off. Lawrence Dearth, president of staffing company Insight Global, explained that the average recruiter aims to connect with a talented individual and then send their resume to 10-15 different companies. In this process, one of those companies might be the one that just laid off the candidate, but the other 14 could offer new opportunities.

Tech companies often request recruiters to find candidates who have previously worked with them, especially for contract positions that require a rapid adjustment period, said Nabeel Chowdhury, senior vice president at recruiting firm 24 Seven Talent. As companies and recruiters cast such a wide net, it's difficult to gauge how someone might react to an initial message from a recruiter. Some might express gratitude for the opportunity, while others might see the offer as insensitive.


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