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Laid-off tech recruiters are looking for work outside the industry

Protocol Workplace

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. Today, tech recruiters who lost their jobs in recent weeks are struggling to find similar jobs that pay what they made in the tech industry. Plus, gig work companies don’t sound too worried about a new proposed rule from the Labor Department, and a look at HR leaders’ top concerns for the upcoming year.

— Allison Levitsky, reporter (email | twitter)

Tech recruiters aren't OK

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

  • By sifting through spreadsheets of laid-off employees’ names and job titles posted to the layoff tracker, the team at 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.”

Gig work woes

Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash all made statements last week suggesting they’re not too worried about the Labor Department’s proposed rule that would reclassify some gig workers as employees, according to Protocol reporter Hirsh Chitkara. The rule would reintroduce Obama-era test factors, such as whether the work is core to the employer’s business.

Lyft put out a statement that this change was expected since President Biden took office, and DoorDash said this rule wouldn’t change its business model. Uber pointed to the fact that its industry grew “exponentially” under Obama. Some industry groups’ responses, Hirsh pointed out, are more alarmed than others.

Read the full story.


Today, we expect instant results from our every action, from calling an Uber to ordering a t-shirt. Companies can no longer afford to not adopt technologies like automation. We are now living in the Automation Economy – a new world that requires agility and a complete reimagining of how we work.

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By the numbers

Leader and manager effectiveness comprise the top priority for HR leaders this year; 60% referenced it as a main focus, according to a new Gartner report.

  • Organizational design and change management are on most people leaders’ priority lists (53%), followed by employee experience (47%), recruiting (46%), and the future of work (42%).
  • Almost one in four HR leaders said their leadership development practices aren’t preparing their company’s leaders for the future of work, Gartner found.
  • 45% of HR leaders said their employees are suffering fatigue “from all the change.”

Some personnel news

Anyone else having a bad case of Great Resignation whiplash? It’s hard to keep up with which tech companies are growing, shrinking, floating, or sinking. We’re here to help.

⬇️ Activision Blizzard just got sued again for sexual harassment, reports TechCrunch.

⬇️ Equifax fired at least 24 employees for moonlighting at other companies, according to Insider.

For more news on hiring, firing, and rewiring, see our tech company tracker.


Today, we expect instant results from our every action, from calling an Uber to ordering a t-shirt. Companies can no longer afford to not adopt technologies like automation. We are now living in the Automation Economy – a new world that requires agility and a complete reimagining of how we work.

Learn more

Around the internet

A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

80% of executive roles are remote-friendly, but more than half of managers and execs want employees at the office full time. (Vox)

Shopify’s twice-annual employee survey covered co-workers’ productivity, video games, and competition with Amazon. (Insider)

The hottest Silicon Valley trend: a good night’s sleep. (The Information)

Amazon warehouse workers near Albany are voting on unionization this week. (The New York Times)

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