Unethical Exits

Mishandled layoffs & firings, Microsoft & Google reducing headcount, skills-based hiring > experience

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👋 Welcome, Jobseekers

In this week’s newsletter:

  • 🔐 Career CoPilot: Unethical Exits - The Aftermath of Mishandled Layoffs & Firings

  • 📉 Layoff Report: Microsoft and Google both reducing headcounts in their cloud units

  • 📊 Trends & Data: Tenure Requirements Dropping, Shift to Skills-Based Hiring

  • 🔧 Jobseeker Tools: AI Lawyer, Sonia AI Therapy, Focused Work, Otta

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💔 Unethical Exits - The Aftermath of Mishandled Layoffs & Firings


With more than 500,000 tech employees laid off since 2022 (as per layoffs.fyi), it’s wildly unreasonable to think that each person experienced a completely fair and compliant exit. I think we all remember in December 2021 when Better.com laid off 900 employees via Zoom and set the tone for the next 3 years of layoffs.

If you’re browsing the r/layoffs subreddit, you’ll find a layoff or firing horror story literally every day. Just a few recent examples of what we’re up against:

What do unethical exits look like?

Below are a few common narratives that occur during a layoff, but the last few years have shown us that companies’ creativity for reducing headcount knows no bounds.

1. The Whoopsy:

Situation: Employees often find out they’ve been laid off with little to no notice. Poor communication from management exacerbates the shock and confusion.

Action Items:

  • Document Everything: Keep a detailed record of all communications and documents related to your layoff.

  • Seek Legal Advice: Consult with a labor attorney to understand your rights and explore possible recourse.

  • Prepare for the Unexpected: Build an emergency fund and keep your resume updated to be prepared for sudden changes.

2. The Silent Termination:

Situation: Employees are abruptly terminated without a clear explanation or just cause. This practice can tarnish a professional’s reputation unjustly.

Action Items:

  • Request Documentation: Ask for written reasons for your termination to understand the company’s standpoint.

  • Protect Your Reputation: Reach out to colleagues and clients to provide a clear narrative about your termination.

  • Legal Recourse: If the termination seems unjust, consider seeking legal advice to challenge it.

3. The Severance Snub:

Situation: Companies may offer minimal or no severance, leaving employees financially vulnerable. The lack of support during the transition period can be detrimental.

Action Items:

  • Negotiate: Try to negotiate for a better severance package, including extended benefits and support services.

  • Financial Planning: Create a budget to manage your finances during the transition period.

  • Seek Support: Look for community resources, job placement services, and unemployment benefits to bridge the gap.

4. The Blacklisting:

Situation: Some companies go as far as blacklisting former employees or providing negative references, significantly hindering an individual’s ability to find new employment.

Action Items:

  • Network Actively: Leverage your professional network for referrals and references to counteract any negative impacts.

  • Request References: Ask for letters of recommendation from colleagues or clients who can vouch for your work ethic and skills.

  • Legal Consultation: If you suspect blacklisting, consult a labor attorney to discuss potential legal actions.

5. The Gag Order:

Situation: Some companies may try to silence you by including non-disclosure or non-disparagement clauses in your exit agreement.

Action Items:

  • Understand the terms: Carefully review any agreements before signing, and don't be afraid to negotiate if you feel the terms are unfair.

  • Seek legal advice: A lawyer can help you navigate these clauses and ensure your rights are protected.

  • Know your worth: Remember that your reputation and integrity are valuable, and don't let a startup bully you into silence.

6. The Blame Game

Situation: Companies may try to shift the blame onto you for their own failures or unethical practices.

Action Items:

  • Keep a record: Document any evidence that contradicts the startup's claims, such as emails, performance reviews, or other supporting materials.

  • Consult with a lawyer: An employment lawyer can help you understand your rights and potential legal options, including filing a wrongful termination claim.

  • Consider your options: Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to negotiate a severance package, file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or even take legal action.

Why are these unethical practices so common?

Economic Pressures

The sad reality is that companies have always, and will always, do what will please their their investors. In the current structure of the market, that means a healthy, green bottom line.

Legal Loopholes

In a similar vein, if there is a legal loophole, you know damn well your company is going to exploit it. Legal = Ethical in a company’s mind.

Communication Breakdown

Poor internal communication and the rise of remote work can complicate communication, leading to impersonal and insensitive layoff processes.

Toxic Culture and Poor Management

Companies sometimes fail to plan adequately for downturns, leading to hasty, poorly executed layoffs. In some cases, those in leadership positions may lack the experience or training to handle layoffs compassionately and ethically.

Crisis Response (COVID Bust & Boom)

The tech industry experiences rapid booms and busts, leading to periods of over-hiring followed by sudden mass layoffs when the market contracts.

Find me a lawyer!

Many action items from above involve collecting documentation and seeking legal counsel. If you find yourself in one of these situations, below are a few of the top online platforms for finding a lawyer:

LegalZoom: Provides affordable legal services and documents, and can connect you with an employment lawyer for advice.

Avvo: Offers a directory of lawyers, user reviews, and the ability to ask legal questions online.

Rocket Lawyer: Offers online legal services, including consultations with attorneys and access to legal documents.

UpCounsel: Connects individuals and businesses with top-rated lawyers for a variety of legal issues, including employment law.

Justia: Provides comprehensive legal information, lawyer directories, and the ability to ask legal questions.

Nolo: Offers legal information, books, and a lawyer directory. Nolo also provides a platform to ask legal questions and receive advice.

Ultimately, the odds are that if you’ve experienced a layoff, or were fired, your company may have mishandled it and there could be some actionable recourse. If that is the case, protect yourself, document it all, and don’t let your exit be the end of the story.

📉 Layoff Report

  • Google conducts sweeping layoffs in its Cloud unit, Business Insider reports

  • Microsoft has confirmed it's cutting an unspecified number of jobs in its Azure for Operators business, LightReading reported. Business Insider earlier cited anonymous sources in saying the LinkedIn parent was cutting an unspecified number of jobs in its cloud unit.

  • Nike is cutting an unspecified number of jobs from its sneakers archive, as part of a plan announced earlier this year to reduce staff by 2%, Bloomberg reports.

📊 Trends & Data

Tenure Requirements Dropping, Shift to Skills-Based Hiring

Employers are relaxing tenure requirements, favoring skills-based hiring. The percentage of job postings specifying years of experience has dropped significantly, particularly in high-wage sectors like project management and engineering. This shift aims to attract a broader pool of candidates and reduce hiring costs, emphasizing skills over formal tenure and education.

Key Takeaways:

  • Skills-First Hiring: Increasing emphasis on relevant skills over years of experience.

  • Sector Variations: High-wage sectors reducing experience requirements most significantly.

  • Broader Candidate Pool: Opportunity for job seekers with strong skills but less formal experience.

🔧 Jobseeker Tools

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Other Jobseeker Tools:

  • Sonia AI Therapy - An emotionally intelligent AI-powered therapist

  • Focused Work - A powerful timer for

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  • Otta - Only relevant roles. At the most exciting startups. Discover your top recommendations now.

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