The massive increase in layoffs related to COVID-19 has placed the technology in a unique position. While the startup world itself faces layoffs, it also tries to get people back to work.
At the end of 2019, the belt tightening phase supported by SoftBank led to a flood of crowdsourcing tables with employee names of companies like Oyo, WeWork, Zume and others. The spreadsheets appeared as a bet on the network effect, with the ultimate goal of hoping that the spreadsheets would end up in the hands of a recruiter who wanted to hire one of hundreds of layoffs. Now that COVID-19 is crippling the economy, layoffs have increased dramatically after this one period.
On the one hand, we reported on the number of tech companies that are cutting staff Oyoto ZipRecruiterto TripActions. On the other hand, we also saw the rise of platforms to connect the layoffs and Promises from employers not to lay off workers during this difficult period.
In a world where Zoom is firing people, the efforts of technology to offer the fired community and action are undoubtedly important.
So many startups have made layoffs or plan to do so that at this point it would be easier to list those who * don't * cut staff.
Here are some places that try to help laid-off employees:
– Erin Griffin (@eringriffith) April 2, 2020
The current pandemic climate and the resulting massive unemployment mean that a table with a long list of employee names and unchecked contact information doesn't help.
Shannon Anderson, director of talent at Madrona Venture Group in Seattle, saw that her company's portfolio companies were struggling with layoffs and the changing economy. Two of the portfolio companies, Textio and Rover, fired employees along with a number of other companies.
"We wanted to expect a reduction in power across the ecosystem," said Anderson. "It is a global problem."
To strengthen the layoff network, Anderson turned to a number of human resources managers, including Chris Brownridge, the founder of Silver Lining, a job platform for the laidoff. He started Silver Lining after closing his startup last summer and firing his 20 employees.
"I have felt the pain (from layoffs) on the part of the employer, and it is painful for the employer, especially if you take care of (your employees)," he said in January. "I don't want spreadsheets to be thrown around. I think that's not the right answer. We need a standardized way of dealing with it, with a community behind it."
Silver Lining is a platform that allows candidates to submit profiles for recruiters from top companies for review. The job seekers on the website range from architects, UX designers, engineers, community managers and more.
Then COVID-19 spread around the world, forcing people to stay home and spend less. The economic downturn has had an uneven impact on companies around the world: where redundancies exist for the travel sector, there are spurts of use for remote workers. Overall, however, the workforce has problems. Last week alone, 6.6 million Americans registered unemployment.
Madrona said that she is donating part of her budget to help Silver Lining offer more services to layoffs. The company declined to share the total amount of the donation.
Silver Lining will now also offer coaching, resume and emotional support to people on the platform, Brownridge says. Thanks to donations from Madrona, Skytap, Bandwidth, Voodle, the Female Founders Alliance and others, the website can be used free of charge.
The increase in layoffs has resulted in Boston-based Drafted, a referral startup, launching a product called Layoff Network to help the layoffs. The startup previously sent a newsletter, discharge list, with a weekly list of layoffs with hyperlinks to spreadsheets. During the SoftBank layoffs, Olivia Clark, the newsletter's creator, noticed an increase in traffic – more than 1,000 recruiters signed up.
Now she says traffic has increased 2,000%, and in just two weeks, Drafted's engineering team has turned this newsletter into a job search network.
The layoff network connects with recruiters who have been recommended by their peers and “approved” for their skills. If you are fired, you can sign up and create a profile and ask a previous employer or colleague to recommend you. According to Clark, this is similar to LinkedIn's "advocate" feature to ensure that people are credible.
Once approved, the person is added to a talent feed. Recruiters can search for candidates, job titles, companies or locations here. Unlike a table, this navigation is much easier and adds another level of human touch.
Clark says the platform will be free for layoffs who are recruiting or hiring. Drafted has a paid corporate level for organizations that want to mass layoffs and support former employees.
The basic efforts are large and varied. Here is a list of companies that are actively hiring. Here is a list for Canadian technicians and one for the Colorado tech scene. And here's a live tracker of startups that have made layoffs started by the team at Human Interest, a startup that has nothing to do with layoffs.
Megan Murphy, who created Chicago superstars for the Chicago tech scene, has not yet received any donation or support. As the number of unemployed increases, Murphy notes that there is a lack of clarity about which companies are hiring and which job vacancies are still active. If a company hires a job in January, it may no longer be the case (to keep costs down).
"I can't waste time writing cover letters and custom resumes for jobs that don't really evolve," she said. "There are tons of crowdsourcing tools out there trying to identify who is actually hiring while others are trying to identify who initiated a hiring freeze or lay off employees, and in the meantime the company's career pages are not up to date." We need a source of truth – and at the moment nobody is really prepared for it. "
At the moment, Murphy says she's getting creative on her own search and asking others to do the same. "Virtual communities and experiences are becoming more important than ever." She names guerrilla slack channels and reddit as examples of organic communication.
How can she keep up with the demand from people who need help with their next job? Murphy, who is looking for a job herself after being released, says she has fewer interviews with potential employers, so she was able to help those who sign up.
The work of these entrepreneurs is scratching the same hope that lies in the hundreds of contact information in a crowdsourcing table for layoffs: the need for a community in a difficult time. And these days remind us more than most of the power of having a group of people together.