Tech Layoffs: What You Can Do to Survive

2022 has been a rough year in terms of the tech industry. The overall stock markets are down, and as a result, incentive plans are less lucrative. The overall market, as a result of that, and interest rates going up have resulted in companies clawing back on their growth plans and conducting layoffs.

In this article, we tell you what you can do in terms of five simple things to help you survive the cut, whether you’re at a large company or a small company. I have experience here because I’m a startup exec at a smaller company, and so I can give you the lens of what we’re thinking about as well as what I would be giving advice to any team member on my particular team.

Layoffs are happening

All right, so the first thing that I think is really important to build context here is that whether you like it or not, layoffs are happening. In fact, there’s this website that I’ve alluded to in the past that you can check out called where they aggregate all the latest news in the tech industry in terms of layoffs that have been happening both in big companies as well as smaller companies.

And the biggest thing that you can tell here when you look at this chart is that since the start of this year, what’s been happening is there’s been a increase in the slope of the number of layoffs as well as employees that have been laid off at companies. So what you can see here is that there is a representation in terms of the number of companies doing layoffs as well as the number of employees that are getting laid off.

You’ll notice that there was a big increase generally in the midpoint of the year. It’s been a little bit of a taper recently. I’ll move this so you can kind of see it, so you can kind of see how like there’s been a little bit of a taper recently, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this starts accelerating once more in the case where the markets don’t recover by the end of the year.

There is large speculation at this point that we are in a broader recession, and what that often means is that companies are looking to cut back on their teams, make sure that they’re as efficient as possible to extend their cash runway. The reason why is because if they run out of cash and they can’t actually operate their business, and so that is an existential crisis that you know you don’t want to put your company in.

So in order to prevent that from happening, what they’ll do is they’ll essentially go through a round of downsizing or what they call right sizing in order to cut down their expenses. But the high level takeaway for you is this. They’re happening whether you like it or not. You need to accept that and then start building towards what you can do to help yourself survive the cuts.

So now that we know the situation that we’re in, let’s talk about five things you can do to survive any cuts that your company might be making.

Tip #1: Start managing up more effectively

What exactly does this mean? It means that in the case where you haven’t been doing things when you tell your boss you’re gonna be doing them, you need to start hitting the mark way more often. This means something like if they are asking you to have something done by Friday, you’re gonna check in with them on either Tuesday or Wednesday to give a status of where you’re at in terms of working towards that particular project. Whether or not you’re actually going to hit it is one thing, but what you need to start doing is communicating and managing up effectively with your boss.

What happens when you communicate to your boss? “Hey, boss, you know that project that you need me to do by Friday, I’m giving you an update right now on Tuesday. This is where I’m at, this is where I’m blocked. This is where I need help. Can you help me out in an XYZ way? That way I’ll definitely get it to you by Thursday end of day.

By proactively communicating where you are in your different projects, you are also kind of doing this thing where you’re gradually building up trust with your boss in terms of being dependable and being the person that they know is going to get something done. Even in the case where you don’t actually get it done on Friday, it’s better for you to have actually communicated on Tuesday or Wednesday where you were at on your project than to have waited until Thursday night and then sent your boss an email or message saying, “Hey boss, I’m not gonna make this deadline, or It’s gonna be tight in terms of making this deadline.”

Make sure that you are being really dependable in terms of deadlines when it comes to managing up. Also, make sure that you are managing up effectively in terms of making it clear and easy for your boss to know exactly how they can help you be more successful. Ultimately, their metrics in terms of being a manager or leader are going to be a direct byproduct of your output. So what that means is that in the case where the team is not performing, that’s on them and that also reflects poorly on you because you’re gonna be a piece of that puzzle.

So what that means is that in your one-on-one syncs up, if you don’t already have some sort of standing document that you are using, you need to start adopting a format that’s gonna work for both of you. Something that I’ve personally really like to do with my direct reports is I like to have a top section where I break down all the active projects that we’re working on, and then a note section for each of those active projects, and then I have a section for what’s going on really well what are some challenges they’re facing as well as questions and FYI and then finally, we wrap up with feedback.

This allows my direct reports to always be able to have an open door of communication back and forth with me in terms of what’s going on with projects, where are they getting blocked, and where are they need my help, as well as do they have any feedback from me to also be a more effective manager and leader for them.

So make sure that you’re managing up effectively. This means upping your communication even in the case where you’re an introvert. I’m an introvert too, you wanna make sure that you are regularly communicating status updates as well as project updates with your boss. This can all be done asynchronously for the most part as well.

Obviously, you wanna have a synchronous meeting here and there. But it’s really nice to have it in writing because when it comes time for your boss to think about who to keep and who not to keep, they’re gonna remember the fact that you are always so on top of things in terms of anything that they put you on.

So, number one, manage up effectively or try to manage up more effectively than how you’ve managed in the past.

Tip #2: Start offering value

The second thing here is that you wanna start offering value beyond your immediate responsibilities. What do I mean by this? Well, there are a couple of different ways you can do this.

On one level, you can start to do the work that’s beyond what your immediate role is in terms of what you might be leveling up to. So in the case where you’re an account executive at your company, it might mean asking your boss for some projects or initiatives that senior account executives might take on.

In other words, you’re proactively taking on more than what your role is actually asking of you at that time. It can also mean though, doing things for the overall betterment of the company. For example, if you notice something about the team meeting structure that you have every week, that could be improved. It could mean writing up a one pager or two page document for your boss that proposes some sort of recommendation or improvement for the team meeting to make sure that the team is running more effectively.

It can also be institutional building from a cultural standpoint. I’ve had team members in the past who take the lead in terms of planning happy hour events or just in general ways for coworkers to bond with one another. And what you’ll wanna keep in mind, because we’re talking about the context of a recession and layoffs, is to do it on a really cheap budget, right? So look for affordable, low cost sort of ideas here if you are gonna take on that sort of role.

But this is a great time for you to be demonstrating value beyond doing the thing that you are hired to do. It’s also gonna make you more eligible for that promotion in the case where they are doing some layoffs, but they’re also looking to promote people, to retain people. Because typically what happens in a company, at least from my past experiences of having to deal with layoffs, is if a company has to deal with a round of layoffs, morale will dip in the overall organization.

And so in order to combat that dip and morale, companies will start to internally promote more people who are staying around after that round of layoffs.

Tip #3: Keep a pulse on market opportunities

It’s a really important time for you to not feel that you have a great deal of loyalty towards your employer.

Ultimately, your employer is going to do what is best for their business and not what is best for you. This could not be more true since the onset of, you know what, in 2020 when tons of people were laid off in their job is because there was a ton of uncertainty in the world. And so do not expect your employer to take care of you regardless of how long you’ve been with them.

You might have been with them for 10 plus years, and you are still potentially on the block here. And so something you want to think about is. Where are some of the best opportunities posted around your particular career or profession? In the case where you follow this channel and you’re really into digital marketing, there are some great opportunities on the Superpath Slack group, and there’s also a ton of opportunities on the Online Genius’ job boards that you’ll find in marketing communities.

But you can also find similar communities on Slack as well as overall job boards on Twitter and whatnot that are being shared. Something that I recommend you do though, is try to identify a couple of these sub communities and identify those boards as opposed just the general ones that are posted on Indeed, LinkedIn, or whatever.

The reason why is because these are usually a little bit more curated and they usually are better opportunities. The other thing that you can check out is Work at a Startup. That’s where a lot of Y Combinator startups as well as general startups will post jobs that are coming up. AngelList is another one that you can definitely check out too.

But just keep a pulse on the opportunities, don’t be afraid as well to just apply for a couple opportunities and see what’s up. Sometimes they say that the riches are made in the recessions, and so it can be an opportunity for you where if you’re a top performer, it could be a time for you to also explore other opportunities. I personally wouldn’t recommend it if you feel like things are gonna get a lot worse, and you’re a little bearish on the overall market, but that’s not to say that you can’t necessarily make the best of the situation itself.

Don’t be too loyal in terms of where you’re currently working. I actually have an article where I talk about why it’s overrated to be loyal to your employer, that you can check out here.

Tip #4: Build multiple income streams

All right, number four is to build multiple income streams. It’s really important that in the case where you’re currently in the situation where your job is the only way that you’re making money, you start to think about different ways that you can offset or diversify the income that’s coming in for you personally. The problem with being a W2 employee or just a standard salaried employee, is that in the case where you do lose your job, you’re in a tough spot, and so a great way that you can diversify is just to think about different side projects or side work that you can take on.

In the case where you can’t come up with something, what I recommend you do is think about two or three skills that your friends are always saying you’re really good at, and then try to productize a service around that. So let’s say for example, they say that you’re really good at negotiating. Well, something that you could do is you could do a negotiation service where they don’t pay you a dime unless you actually save them money.

And then from there, you could help small businesses in providing savings on their annual contracts for different vendors. And then take an X percent cut of all the savings that you get for them. The reason why this is a great win-win in the context of a potential recession or just in general, this sort of doom and gloom scene we see right now, is that companies are also gonna be looking for cutting back expenses. And so this is a win-win situation.

This is so, so important, and it might start out with just you giving up more of your time, but in another world you’d also wanna look for other ways that you can generate cash flow. Cash flow is king in terms of when you’re in tough economic times, just to make sure that there’s stability in terms of you being able to meet your baseline expenses as well as the needs of others that might be depending on you.

Tip #5: Build up your savings

And that leads me to the fifth and final tip that I have for you in surviving the cut, which is build up your savings to be at least three months longer than they currently are for you right now. There’s an enormous number of people that live paycheck to paycheck, and it’s really not sustainable. The reason why is because in those situations when something bad happens, like them getting laid off at their company, it means that what’s gonna happen is they’re gonna have to go into debt with a credit card company in order to typically make ends meet.

And the reason why that’s a problem is because credit card companies will typically charge anywhere from 18 to 27% interest rates if you miss payment. And so that means that every single month your debt is just growing like crazy. So what I reckon you do is if you haven’t already saving more, think about all the things that you can potentially cut out that aren’t true necessities to you surviving, or you and the ones that you love surviving. And then from there, just start socking away more savings than you had in the past so that you can be both more psychologically secure as well as financially secure.

So a good starter tip for you here would be, you know, maybe just expand your savings by 10% the next month, and then see if you can go up to 20% from where you’re currently at. Whatever it is, just make sure that you are building towards having an additional three months on top of whatever your existing emergency savings fund was. So in the case where you previously had nothing, you’ll have at least a quarter to figure things out, three months, and then in the case where you had a three month emergency fund, you’ll now have a half year to figure things out and so on.

This is really great for you to just have peace of mind in the case where things really start hitting the ceiling and you have to figure things out because you’re in a bind. I can’t tell you the number of times in which I’ve seen people get impacted and they just go through a spiral. Because what happens is they didn’t have a backup plan and they didn’t think that they were on the chopping block.

And so this is something that’s so, so important in the greater context of things. So this is something that you can definitely learn a lot more on YouTube. There’s an entire niche around, you know, personal finance and whatnot. There’s so many YouTubers out there. I definitely recommend folks like Graham Stephan and whatnot in terms of learning just the fundamentals in the case where you haven’t already kind of picked them up in the past.

Those are five simple things that you can do to make sure that you’re surviving the cut, as well as securing your overall position in the case where the layoffs get a lot worse and the overall recession goes across the world. It really goes back to the fundamentals of business, which is leading with value, making sure you’re giving a lot of value to other people, and then from there, also know your worth, and also recognizing what the market situation is.

By making sure that you’re secure in terms of your personal situation as well as in your professional situation, making sure that you’re adding a ton of additional value than what they are paying you to do, you will ultimately be able to find yourself on your feet, regardless of whether it’s at your current company or another one.

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