With job losses increasing in technology, finance and other industries, why wait to lay off when you can get right to hiring?
The move, dubbed “career dampening,” involves crafting a plan B while still fully employed, especially when job cuts are imminent. This is usually done discreetly – maybe a networking chat over lunch, or taking the time to catch up with old colleagues.
Some employees of Amazon.com Inc. take it a step further and publicly post on LinkedIn that they are #OpenToWork while still employed by the company. It’s all out there for everyone, including their bosses and bosses of bosses, to see.
One of those Amazonians is Kayla Look, a hiring coordinator. In an interview, Look said her anxiety was running high when layoffs were announced in November: the holidays were approaching, she had just graduated from university the year before and was planning a wedding. The costs and uncertainty mounted.
The unease started when the Seattle-based company froze hiring a few weeks earlier. She thought she could relax if she survived the first round of job cuts, but when the company announced it would cut 18,000 jobs — instead of the first 10,000 — the sense of relief evaporated.
She knew it was time to be proactive. “It’s been two and a half months since the concerns of being laid off first started,” she said. “I’m tired of being anxious.” Her managers don’t know more than she does, so there’s no one to answer her questions, she said.
Amazon says it was a “tough decision” to cut jobs.
“We don’t take these decisions lightly or underestimate how much they could affect the lives of those affected by them,” Amazon CEO Andy Jassy wrote in the most recent note on the impending cuts, which are mostly will be concentrated in the People. department , Experience and Technology. “We are working to support those affected and are offering packages that include divorce benefits, transitional health insurance benefits and outside job placement support.” Amazon declined to comment further.
When one of the managers on Look’s team posted last week that she was #OpenToWork on LinkedIn, it was like a green light. “She’s one of my leaders – I should follow her if she doesn’t seem confident in our chances,” she said. “Since I’m still new to the workforce, I felt if I do this I’m not showing any loyalty and that’s why I’ll be fired. But no – it gave me reassurance that it’s okay to take care of yourself. “
The banner, which LinkedIn introduced in 2020 after Covid-19 hit, has become an increasingly common image on the platform as layoffs ripple through the tech industry.
Although she eventually wants to stay with Amazon, Look sends out resumes.
Robin Ryan, who works as a career coach across the lake from the e-commerce giant and has advised many who want to join (or leave) the company, says she sees the messages as something of a pushback – a way of saying “‘Hey, I can go somewhere else.'”
At Amazon, which has 1.5 million employees, the recruiter’s job is challenging: “The churn there is incredible. Most people quit. It’s a very stressful place to work,” Ryan said. Recruiters have many roles to fill – many of which are highly technical and involve in-depth sourcing and rigorous interviews.
Those who have been in uncertainty for months tend to feel some degree of resentment, Ryan said. And like Look, many in the recruiting are entry-level professionals who don’t get the huge salaries earned by veteran engineers. They often don’t have much left after rent, car payments, and other expenses, which makes the prospect of losing their job all the more unnerving.
Look’s was one of more than six #OpenToWork posts from current Amazon employees viewed by Bloomberg News. Other employees, some of whom accepted voluntary buyouts, wrote similar messages last month.
“In this case, you’re trying to get people into the organization, and they just kicked you out,” Ryan said.
Look is hopeful that the waiting game will come to an end soon. “They were going to start sending letters next week,” she said. “Honestly, I’m excited about that because I’m ready to find out if I’m here or not so I can move forward.”
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