Tech recruiting is a tough business right now. Layoffs in the industry have hit recruiting and HR teams harder than any other, and laid-off recruiters say they’re struggling to find full-time work in tech.
Tech companies that have conducted layoffs this year eliminated around half of their HR and recruiting staffers, according to a new analysis from mock-interview site interviewing.io.
- By sifting through spreadsheets of laid-off employees’ names and job titles posted to the layoff tracker Layoffs.fyi, the team at interviewing.io estimated that companies eliminated 50% of their recruiters and 48% of their HR staffers when conducting layoffs this year.
- Laid-off recruiters told me those estimates didn’t seem far off. Carol Raymer, a veteran recruiter who recently lost her job at DocuSign when it laid off 9% of its employees, estimated that 40% of her colleagues lost their jobs. (In a statement to Protocol, a DocuSign spokesperson said the percentage of HR and recruiting roles that were affected was “significantly below the industry averages being reported” and was “of a similar percentage to other departments” at DocuSign.)
- Another laid-off recruiter, who has asked to remain anonymous so as not to hurt her job search, said about half of her team was let go during the startup’s recent layoff.
Some recruiters held onto their jobs for months — even after hiring slowed to a trickle. Tim Nelson, who was laid off after six months at DocuSign along with the rest of the company’s sourcing team, said he was “twiddling [his] thumbs for four months” before ultimately being let go.
- “I was just told to, like, not source,” Nelson said. “I totally understand why I got laid off. I’m not bitter about it.”
- Nelson started his own side business as a recruiter when DocuSign all but stopped hiring, he said.
- Once recruiting work dried up at her startup, the company put recruiters “on assignment” to help out in other departments, the anonymous person said. “I thought that was a really creative way of trying to keep us busy, because a lot of those departments lost head count too,” she said. “But I think it just ultimately wasn’t enough [work for us].”
Many laid-off recruiters are now struggling to find full-time work in the industry. For some, the best option may be to take a sizable pay cut to go to non-tech companies.
- Raymer said some of her peers are looking at roles that pay 30% to 40% less than what they made in tech.
- Nelson, who said he joined DocuSign for the generous parental leave policy — which he won’t get to use when his baby is born in January — hasn’t found any comparable opportunities in tech recruiting.
- “I’ve applied to at least 50 positions,” Nelson said. He’s expecting an offer from a company he interviewed with recently, but “there’s no way I’m going to get what I got at DocuSign,” he said. Some opportunities in tech recruiting seem to be oriented toward candidates who live near the office, Nelson said, which is limiting for him as a resident of the D.C. area.
- The recruiter who wished to remain anonymous said she’s “a little bit hesitant” about joining another VC-backed startup “given what happened.” Her network has been an indispensable resource for referrals, she said. “If I were to apply to a role now that fits what I’m looking for, usually I’m one of 500 applicants,” she said. “I feel bad for people who don’t have access to a strong network.”