Hiring Talent From a Layoff: 3 Tips to Make Their Loss Your Gain

Hint: Recruiters will need to offer more than just a fat paycheck.

Written by Madeleine Nguyen
Published on Sep. 21, 2022
Hiring Talent From a Layoff: 3 Tips to Make Their Loss Your Gain
Brand Studio Logo

When news broke that Peloton was reducing its workforce by nearly 3,000 employeesLinkedIn exploded with posts listing available positions and messages of encouragement from people around the country. And although layoffs at that scale don’t happen every day, it’s clear that the echoes of this story won’t be forgotten anytime soon, especially by tech employees at comparable companies.

For many, the bottom line was simple: There is no guarantee that a big name offers protection, and a healthy salary isn’t as important as knowing your company has your back. Going forward, it’s likely that we’ll see a shift in what applicants are prioritizing in the job search, and for all those looking to hire them, it’s important to adjust recruitment and acquisition strategies accordingly. Here are three ways to shift your mindset and stand out amongst the dozens of companies looking for top tech talent.

3 Ways for Recuiters to Stand Out When Hiring Away From a Layoff

  1. Forget about the numbers, focus on the entire offer.
  2. Get creative in your methods and try something new.
  3. Remember that you need them more than they need you.


1. Forget About the Numbers, Focus On the Entire Offer

If there’s one thing that most tech applicants already expect going into the job search, it’s the generous salary ranges most positions currently offer. While there are always exceptions to the rule, the average salary for the majority of tech jobs sits comfortably in the six figures, and even starting salaries tend to be higher in tech than in many other industries. For context, programmers with three to five years of experience used to command a salary of $130k at the higher end. That number has jumped to $190k for engineers with similar levels of experience, and we’ve seen some offers that include up to 1 percent equity alongside that base number. The same upward trend is true for anyone with a decent level of experience, whether they are marketers, recruiters, or applicants for an entirely different position in tech.

With all that being said, no applicant is going to jump at the promise of a competitive salary alone — especially with the current labor shortage giving them ample leverage to expect bigger and better things from a job offer. Talented candidates want to work for companies that are employee-centric and value loyalty, and it’s foolish to assume applicants are unaware of the difference; platforms like Glassdoor, Blind, and the whole host of social media outlets have made it easy to swap information about compensation and company culture, much of which was previously taboo.

This age of information has, quite simply, emboldened people to demand what they know to be achievable when it comes to salaries and benefits. In order to stand out, job postings need to be more focused on what an employee stands to receive outside of the number on their paycheck. Recently, a friend at a big-name tech company turned down a role that would give her a 20-30 percent increase in annual salary. Why? Because she was more interested in a company signaling a commitment to her longer-term growth — laying out what potential bonuses or promotions lay ahead, and what they saw the role growing into a few years down the line. High compensation numbers might look shiny from the onset, but none of it matters to people if they need to worry about getting laid off a year later. They are more than willing to sacrifice some financial gain for the intangibles — like feeling secure.

Highlight any more progressive offerings your company provides — whether that’s the ability to designate meeting days, an annual stipend for each employee to do online trainings and attend conferences of their choice, or ownership of their own projects and initiatives, explicitly laid out from the get-go — and you’re far more likely to attract top applicants looking for companies that will invest in their futures, rather than the reverse.

Read More About Investing In Your Team on Built In’s Expert Contributors NetworkLeaders: Building Talent Should Be a Bigger Priority Than Hiring It


2. Get Creative in Your Methods and Try Something New

It may be a difficult pill to swallow, but the current methods of recruitment are broken, so addressing those gaps in your own practices is a critical first step to winning the attention of ideal applicants. For one thing, we’ve relied for far too long on outdated standards based on the prestige of an applicant’s university or former employer, but that’s a poor predictor of their future performance and abilities.

Gone are the days of using a top-25 school as a marker of someone’s ability; we are seeing coding-bootcamp graduates and those who participated in apprenticeship programs killing it in the job market. The bottom line? An engineer who can start contributing quality code on day one is a valuable asset, and eliminating someone based on their pedigree, or lack thereof, is a mistake.

Along the same lines, diversity in hiring has become a hot topic — particularly in tech — and many companies are scrambling to cultivate a more diverse workforce. But instead of doing so by changing the geographical locations or educational backgrounds they’re screening for, they continue to follow the same tired methods that can only result in an overly homogenous workforce.

If the goal is to attract top applicants, it’s important to understand that those applicants will come from a range of different backgrounds with different experiences, and the combination of these different elements are what helps to build a successful team. Stop filtering out the best people by relying on what worked in the past. One of our greatest recruitment success stories was a professional chef for 10 years who decided to pivot in his early 30s. He attended a coding bootcamp and graduated with multiple competing offers, despite having zero work experience in tech.

His experience should serve as a reminder that a “traditional” background or path isn’t everything, so it’s pointless — and damaging — to rely on old standards. Diversify your hiring methods — sourcing candidates from historically black universities, post on job boards that cater to underrepresented minorities, and committing to interviewing and hiring candidates sourced from these places are all good steps in the right direction — and you’ll be sure to reach the best of the best, whoever they are and wherever they come from.

Learn How to Imrpove Your Recruiting Practices on BuiltIn.comWhy Your Hiring Process Is Screening Out Potential Top Performers


3. Remember That You Need Them More Than They Need You

The pandemic has fundamentally changed the labor market to one where employees have the upper hand. For the tech industry in particular, the demand for skilled workers has never been higher and is only going to increase. Y Combinator interviews more than 16,000 startups per batch — twice a year — and plenty of these workers are choosing to be their own boss, so companies that don’t recognize this shift are priming themselves to fail.

With the current economic climate being what it is — and no signs that it will change anytime soon — you need to remember that you need talented workers more than they need you (especially since your competitors will happily scoop them up if you don’t) and your hiring practices need to reflect that understanding. Beyond offering great salaries and benefits, it’s crucial to highlight why your company is the best place for applicants and how your company culture is geared towards making the experience of employees a top priority. Focus on them.

With so many open positions still floating around across the tech industry, the Peloton layoffs could prove beneficial for companies looking to scoop up their talent for themselves. But it’s short-sighted to believe that top tech applicants will settle for the same standard conditions and environments that have dominated corporations for decades.

This is a moment of reflection and an ideal opportunity for hiring and recruitment to undergo the overhaul it desperately needs. For tech companies that recognize the value of this moment, these strategies will prove to be the catalyst for a new wave of talent and vitality within their ranks.

Read More on Hiring Practices in Tech on Built In’s Expert Contributors NetworkCalling All Tech Employers: 4 Ways We Can Fill the Recruiting Demand

Hiring Now
Cloud • Fintech • Information Technology • Machine Learning • Software