Layoffs and reality

Layoffs are becoming a common element of discourse within software engineering circles. The recent Twitter layoffs have triggered a lot of emotion. I choose to look beyond the sentiment and ponder some realities. The post will have more questions than answers.

This post might sound like a rant; if it doesn’t, it is supposed to be one.

Most people in software engineering jobs do so for money. Those who don’t care about the money aspect can do it as open source as well very few do so. My journey of becoming part of the software ecosystem is captured in the following episode of my podcast.

Layoff, Recession, and me

I lost my F1 visa after applying for 4000+ jobs in the US for over 18 months during the 2008 meltdown. I was part of a team let go on 31 March 2020. The rest is part of my podcast episodes based on the context of the episodes. For example, during the pandemic, our team got news on a call during lockdown with zero seconds’ notice.

On both occasions, I have been an active LinkedIn user, and on both occasions, I had to find the resources to survive on my own. In 2008 most of my friends didn’t have enough influence to get me an interview, and now they have too much influence to touch my radioactive resume. I understand. In 2008 I finally realized the difference between Arjuna and Eklavya in Mahabharata — branding.

It’s not about the intent of people to refuse help; it’s about how news feeds build up and how your networks might never get your broadcast message. The DM’s go cold in a recession as well. Only “jobless” people are most active on the professional network!

Layoffs messiah syndrome

The news about layoffs suddenly has filled my feed with reposts of Tweep profiles seeking to save their visas. The trend has been rising for other famous valley names or India-based unicorns throughout the last month. The wave of support that often follows such events is beyond the comprehension of my third-world programmer mindset.

Unicorn in bad health sitting on top of computer peripheral trash.

I have my answers, do you?

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

Daniel Patrick Moynihan
  • Tweeps knew about the change in leadership as a real possibility for over six months. Were the tweeps who chose to stay back willing to carry out all orders if not fired?
  • Do you believe that a 2000th repost is going to make a difference?
  • How many layoffs affected people have been helped by the tweep you are supporting in the last 90 days?
  • If the court overturns the firing and demands the tweeps return and at least serve the 60 days notice period. As someone who has hired them, will you be happy about it?
  • Are the tweeps going to take salary cuts? Will they opt for positions outside the US, like places in India?
  • Will you trust their stories of contributions if the outcome app on your phone tells the opposite story?
  • As a hiring manager, will you prioritize your sympathy over skills?
  • Is fast-tracking the application of a tweep to protect their visa status bypassing the candidates in the pipeline fair?
  • If the job seekers are surprised at layoffs, then there is a high possibility there are not “leetcode hard problems in 20 minutes” ready. They will still get hired. Do you think that is fair?
  • The top payers are all on a hiring freeze, yet you will see the valley layoffs resulting in people getting hired there. Is it fair?
  • The magnanimous engineering managers can DM the candidates from the posts, yet they choose to post a comment among hundreds. Is that PR?
  • How many thank you messages are you expecting to receive for your spamming?
  • Will the favor be returned if you are employed in a city like Pune and seeking jobs in the valley?
  • Will you take a salary cut if it saves jobs in your company?
  • Why are you doing the reposting?

Be honest with yourself. Please don’t post the responses to the questions on my profile or this post; remind yourself whenever you hit like, share or repost. Hypocrisy is avoidable.

I am on a break from motivation and bureaucracy to figure out the next career stage, till then, I am teaching everything I know to people who might be in a position to avoid burnout.

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