The Survivors

The last year has seen a number of large tech companies lay off large numbers of staff. The list for 2023 includes large companies, like Google (12,000), Amazon (9,000 this time), Microsoft (10,000), and Meta (10,000 this time), but also small companies like Zoom (1,300), Rapid (115), and Roku (200). It’s not just tech companies, however, as Disney (7,000), Gap (500), 3M (6,000), and David’s Bridal (9,236) are letting people go. There are plenty of other companies who have let people go, which is interesting to me as the economy has grown in the US, though profits were down. It’s hard to know whether these layoffs are really important for all these companies or whether these layoffs are management’s decision to group their bad news with everyone else’s and take advantage of the opportunity to shrink labor costs.

In any case, layoffs are sad and stressful. Certainly, the people being let go are traumatized and I don’t want to minimize the impact to their lives, but this can be hard for the survivors as well. This isn’t just a Silicon Valley situation, but one that affects many employees all over the world. Whenever there is a large staffing change in an organization, those that remain can be traumatized and unproductive. This is one reason that public companies must notify and disclose layoffs to investors.

This article looks at how some tech company employees react after surviving a layoff, and it reminds me of some of the layoffs I’ve been through. While I haven’t been let go in a layoff, I have had to deal with the aftermath of some friends losing their employment while other friends try to cope. I’ve felt sad, angry, upset, concerned, frustrated, and more. Even as one of the lucky people that kept their jobs, I found myself unable to cope with the changes on the fateful day and for some time after. I struggled to focus during the next few weeks, while also being stressed as I realized the workload grew unexpectedly. There was still lots of work, but less staff to do it.

Anytime you survive a layoff, I think it’s natural to question whether you want to continue working in the same organization. Is business that bad that we need to let people go? Will there be another layoff? Is our leadership actually doing a good job or have they made mistakes by hiring unnecessary people? Am I unnecessary? Are managers appeasing investors who care more about their return or even worried about their own bonuses? All of these thoughts swirl through my head and others’ heads as we move forward. I don’t want you to feel bad here, but to think about your situation as someone that might get laid off or survive one.

Most of us don’t experience layoffs, and if we do, it’s not often that these happen. However, they are always possible, which is why I advocate for all of you to keep learning, regularly grow your skills, keep your resume up to date, and be aware of how your organization is operating. It’s good to work as if you’ll continue in this position (if you enjoy it), but my motto is: hope for the best, plan for the worst.

Of course, if you don’t like your job, you should be working to find another one. The best time to find a new job is while you already have one.

Steve Jones

Listen to the podcast at Libsyn, Stitcher, Spotify, or iTunes.

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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7 Responses to The Survivors

  1. Steve – I’m spoiled in this area as every job I’ve had in my adult life (I don’t consider the retail jobs while in school a part of that) except for the verify first one, I was recruited by the new employer which put me in a position of priveldge. What I can’t reconcile about the current situation with lay-offs is how we can have both a labor shortage and layoff problems. One would think that the labor shortage would make it easy, not hard, for those being laid off to find another job. Is it that within the tech sector there is no labor shortage?


    • way0utwest says:

      You’re privileged like my wife. She sent resumes out once, got recruited many times.

      We have a labor shortage because we don’t have enough good people, or good in the areas that companies want to hire them. I find so many people can’t use git or don’t know anything about DevOps, or are intimidated by CI/CD in databases.

      At the same time, we have lots of people looking for jobs that don’t have soft skills or don’t interview well or don’t have the right experience.

      The good thing is companies are getting more picky, especially at current labor costs. The bad thing is that too many managers still hire on their view of the old world, with their prejudices/preferences and expectations.

      That’s not a commentary on diversity or racism, though those things exist. More, I think we have poorly trained management that gets hung up on certain criteria or expects people to look/act a certain way and haven’t found ways to adapt.

      Add all that up and we have a labor shortage and unemployment together.


    • ” The bad thing is that too many managers still hire on their view of the old world, with their prejudices/preferences and expectations.”
      Yep, like refusing to consider someone who has the work experience but who doesn’t have a college degree regardless if the degree has anything to do with the job they are being hired for. Old Corp World thinking is that the only good people are those who went to colleges regardless of what they got a degree in. You and I have discussed that before.

      In fairness I know little about git simply because I’ve never need to. I’m familiar with it, just not a user but for what I do we don’t need it. I’m sure the dev guys at my former employer know/use it now but when I left there (17 years ago) I believe GIT was relatively new and Subversion was what was what they used but that was almost 2 decades ago and the memory is not the same in your 50s like it is in your 30s 🙂


  2. datamasterchief says:

    I too have the same motto, hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I also consider learning a hobby and have taken up analytics to broaden my dba skillset. I have found however that after recently finishing my masters in analytics, it is hard to find a job in a slightly different field and still make the same money. I have found the competition in the tech job market to be a tough one. Discouraging for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t be a stranger. Steve posts daily during the week and you find some jewels of info checking out the posts. And unlike some other well known people in the SQL World he does reply back to questions/comments made to his site.


  3. way0utwest says:

    Good luck and hope things go well. It is definitely competitive, though I think talented people will always find jobs, just not necessarily the one they want.


    • So true. And when your still young you may find that what you end up really enjoying is not what you studied for. I wanted to be in engineering, an architect and took classes in Highschool to prep for it. Turned out that my talent was in working with data sets via SQL. When I first started reading about it the whole concept just clicked. There was never that Ah-ha moment that I see in others learning SQ and this was after I had been studying C++ and working with VB so I was already biased towards procedural and or OO programming and still SQL made sense to me.


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