They Promised Jobs — Then Rescinded Them. Key Lessons for New Grads and Tech Companies
By Carol Schultz
Aside from the market crash of 2008–2009 and the subsequent recession, there hasn’t been a more uncertain time for the tech industry in recent history.
A June 2022 Insider article by Jessica Xing explored the current situation, where tech companies like Twitter, Coinbase, Redfin, and Loom have withdrawn job offers to new grads en masse.
For instance, Coinbase rescinded job offers to new graduates via an email with the cheery subject line: “Update to your Coinbase offer.” Coinbase cited the “current market conditions” as the reason for the offer revocations. Twitter swiftly took back its job offers when Elon Musk announced his intent to buy the social media platform, while Redfin and Loom announced they needed to cut costs.
Though they may be tech leaders, none of these organizations led with what’s ultimately most important: putting people first. They weren’t straight with would-be employees and didn’t provide clear communication. Instead, they pulled the rug out from people with little meaningful information.
These energized and eager graduates, ready to embark on their career journeys, were cut right out of the gate, and in many cases before reaching it. It got me thinking about how new college graduates suffer due to the lack of talent-centric companies.
Why the Business Climate Has Changed for the Worse
Over the past few decades, the business climate has undergone a startling metamorphosis, particularly in companies funded with venture capital (VC) and private equity (PE). The investors in these companies want to make sure they get returns on their investments. Consequently, they make cutthroat decisions — like firing new workers — without skipping a beat.
Publicly traded organizations have investors to answer to as well. Most companies justify employee-unfriendly decisions based on their need to comply with various bodies, such as a board of directors.
Let’s refer back to the market crash of 2008–2009. Companies laid off millions of employees, and what happened? Their stock prices rose. Why? Because they had fewer employees, which boosted their financials.
None of this is new. For better or worse, as far as employees go, slashing worker headcounts helps businesses triage and stop financial losses as quickly as possible. And it goes in cycles, just like our economy.
Tech giants like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others are overvalued in the market right now. So, when companies are riding high as they have for years, the only place to go is down, which means companies will have layoffs, reduced hiring, and hiring freezes.
Is There a Way for New Grads to Avoid These Situations?
As it stands, I don’t believe higher education institutions are properly preparing grads for the real world. I would assert that most, if not all, career counselors at the university level have never worked in executive search or recruitment to see what the market is truly like, so how can they give out sage advice?
Yes, a college-level career counselor’s job is about helping students successfully graduate in their fields of study. However, the counselor might not understand today’s volatile business climate. That leaves students trying to find jobs based solely on their education with few tools and little concrete information to help them make the best decisions upon graduation. These new grads are missing out on self-protective employment strategies that will afford them more options.
So, what’s a new grad to do? First, college grads need to develop better priorities than landing a tech job with a high salary. They must learn everything possible about the companies they’re interested in, especially a company’s attitudes toward talent.
Here are some questions new grads might ask during the interview process:
• What does your company offer in compensation and benefits besides salary, such as health insurance and paid leave?
• Does your organization provide training, education, and professional development to earn promotions and leadership roles? How many employees receive promotions?
• What’s the employee turnover rate for internal teams and the entire organization?
• What coaching and training do you provide to foster better employee engagement and relationships?
• What are the job duties and start date? What does your onboarding process look like? Will you guarantee the position if I accept the offer?
Tech Companies Need to Focus on Creating and Maintaining Talent-Centric Cultures
While new grads need to do their legwork regarding understanding the business market, tech companies need to do their work, too.
After such a dismal showing this late spring and early summer, tech companies might want to reassess their approaches toward new hires and employees. Who knows? They might need all those talented grads when the market shifts. But by then, those grads will have moved on — with a lingering bad taste in their mouths for the companies that rescinded offers so cavalierly.
The fact is, today’s talented grads have more choices than ever, thanks to the ongoing, shifting dynamics in the post-pandemic workplace. They can move to smaller tech firms or secure jobs in companies with more realistic salaries but stronger futures.
Here are some ways that tech companies can make the talent-centric adjustments needed to hire and employ people realistically and effectively:
• Make talent — not your bank account — the prime focal point of your business strategy.
• Build peer-to-peer relationships among employees, managers, and executives.
• Identify skills gaps and help talent obtain those skills through training, coaching, or other educational opportunities to ensure their success and secure long-term retention.
• Hold supervisors accountable for employee dynamics and success.
• Provide workers with remote or hybrid work options when possible.
• Be open to diverse ideas from all of your people, and offer opportunities for advancement and leadership roles to the burgeoning talent in your organization irrespective of sex, race, or other markers.
New Grads Can Thrive in Talent-Centric Organizations
Although the idea of a talent-centric organization may seem relatively new for many companies and recent grads, it’s a worthy and mutually rewarding philosophy and model. It simultaneously keeps things real (regarding expectations and opportunities) while fostering a candid and upbeat work environment focused on keeping talent for the long term.
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CAROL SCHULTZ, founder and CEO of Vertical Elevation, is a talent equity and leadership advisory expert with 30 years in the business. She’s helped hundreds of companies transform their organizations and create sustainable, talent-centric cultures that run at maximum efficiency. Her new book is Powered By People: How Talent-Centric Organizations Master Recruitment, Retention, and Revenue (and How to Build One). Learn more at verticalelevation.com.