Empowering the Freelance Economy

Laid-off Amazon and Microsoft employees insulted by tech recruiter insensitivity

One of Amazon's Spheres located at the tech company's Seattle head quarters represents better times
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Reports are coming out of the US that recently laid-off Amazon and Microsoft employees are being offered contracting jobs for their previous roles but without benefits and at much lower pay. Could these insensitive recruitment tactics put some IT workers off big tech for good and make every contractor willing to take over a laid-off person’s role a persona non grata in the office?

The Seattle Times headline must have brought it home for those tech workers still licking their wounds from their shock redundancies: “Laid off by Big Tech, then recruited for contract work — at the same place.”

Thousands of workers in the IT sector have been and will be impacted by mass redundancies at big tech firms such as Amazon and Microsoft.

Tech contracting market is about to get crowded

Those same highly skilled people with big tech experience will also be looking for new jobs right alongside contractors. Things are going to get competitive for everyone.

However, when a recruiter asks if you want to work for the employer that just sacked you and rejoin in a freelance capacity for less pay, no benefits or stock options, it smacks of insensitivity. It’s arguably a fire-and-rehire tactic, but much worse in the eyes of people not yet prepared to go solo self-employed.

Nabeel Chowdhury, senior vice president at recruiting firm 24 Seven Talent, told The Seattle Times that “tech companies often ask recruiters to find workers who have already worked at their company, particularly when hiring for a contract position that would require a worker to get up to speed quickly.”

Talk about awkward!

For laid-off workers, recruitment practices are ranging from insensitive to insulting, according to the report:

One former Microsoft worker who was laid off in March and asked to remain anonymous during the job hunt said in the report about recruiter insensitivity:

We all just got the shock of our life, the last thing I need is for you to continue to ask me to go to a company that just let me go.

Another worker, according to the report, who was laid off from Amazon in January and also asked to remain anonymous out of concern for future job prospects said they’ve heard from several recruiters looking specifically for people with Amazon experience.

While this looks very much looks like an opportunity for contractors, it equally highlights the awkward position contractors could be putting themselves in.

This recruitment quandary shines a light on how contractors could be perceived in the tech industry: the people willing to bring just as much skill or more to big tech but for much less financial security.

There have been cases where contractors already feel like they are treated unfairly or with less respect. Fractious working environments could add to this, especially if staff think you might replace them.

Challenges bring opportunities for freelancers

It is becoming clearer that highly skilled and experienced freelancers can provide companies with the talent they need but with less long-term overheads. However, contractors should be mindful that they could be undercutting themselves in this very ego-bruised time in tech recruitment. They should be prepared to negotiate better rates and payment terms. Even if it is to make any frosty working environment more bearable.

Related articles:

It’s a new job scene for tech contractors

Tech layoffs to spur freelancer and startup numbers

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