First 4 things to do when you get laid off from your SF tech gig

Today, it was SoundCloud. People headed to work as usual, looking forward to (catered?) lunch, and maybe even yoga with coworkers. But, they left without jobs.

Reality is, tech layoffs are more common than many people realize, even when the economy is doing well. Paul Sawers weighed in that early layoffs and closures in 2017 suggest a rocky year ahead for tech industry. Similarly Josh Constine reported that Unicorns And Little Ponies Hit The Slaughterhouse one year earlier. All the while, the NASDAQ kept pushing towards all-time highs.


While tech reporters dig up and publicize select rounds of layoffs, many more go unreported. Why? The people involved generally have incentives to stay quiet:

  • VCs want to protect the startup’s valuation and their firm’s reputation.
  • Company executives want to maintain the ability to hire going forward, and improve their chances of a turnaround.
  • Affected employees often want to avoid announcing “I’m unemployed!”

Especially among people that have not yet been downsized (so far), there remains subconscious questioning and erroneous misconceptions. Just check out last week’s thread about us on Hacker News that mis-characterizes our candidates as having been “fired.” To be clear, Layoff-Aid is not a platform for people who were fired. Even if the general public doesn’t know the difference between layoffs and firings, savvy recruiters do. With that said, if you or someone you know has been laid off by an SF tech startup, we suggest the following:

  1. Apply for unemployment ASAP (the earlier, the better!)
  2. Catch your breath
  3. Update your GitHub / LinkedIn / resume / portfolio
  4. Build your job search strategy, as below…

We built Layoff-Aid specifically to help SF tech talent affected by layoffs. While we’re excited to offer exclusive access to accelerated interviews, we don’t have every opportunity in our network just yet, and we want to help job-seekers however we can. So, you may also find it worthwhile to run a traditional job search in addition to working with Layoff-Aid, to increase your odds of getting offers quickly. Below is a list of ways you can look for your next gig:

  1. Layoff-Aid.com: Get “pre-qualified” for many local opportunities in under a minute. A vetted network of high-quality startups will review current openings and reach out to you directly if there may be a fit, and they understand that they’ll need to move quickly.
  2. Networking: Focus on face-to-face meetings. Reconnect with former coworkers, classmates, friends, strangers, and friendly strangers. VCs in particular are great contacts if you can find some, since they’re well-connected in the startup community. Be specific in terms of what you’re looking for and let people know what you can offer. Where possible: Meet in-person and if you can’t, set up a video call. Offer to talk on the phone and if that fails, rely on email.
  3. Job boards: Look on AngelList, LinkedIn, aggregators like Indeed, and career pages of target companies to identify open opportunities of interest. Then, contact your 1st or 2nd degree LinkedIn connections to ask if they might be up to refer you. If you fail to immediately get an introduction, apply directly.
  4. Neglected LinkedIn messages: Now’s a good time to dig into your many LinkedIn messages and reply to every recruiter as follows: “Hi! Thanks for your note and sorry it took me a little while to get back to you. Timing is better on my end as I’m now open to new opportunities. Please drop me a note if you’re still looking here in SF. Hope to chat soon.”
  5. Headhunters: Staffing firms (also known as recruiting agencies) are often the only way to access certain opportunities, and they can otherwise be helpful at getting you in front of certain startups that depend on them for sourcing candidates like you. Example SF firms that can do some legwork and introduce you to companies that are hiring include: Elevate Recruiting Group, Talented Recruiting, The Sourcery, DeWinter Group, Your Cadre, among others.
  6. “Talent Marketplaces:” SF engineers may have success with platforms like TripleByte, though you’ll have to pass an online coding quiz / programming challenge that most people fail. AngelList offers similar services. Engineering, Product, Data, Marketing, and other business candidates may have success with Hired or Underdog.io (referral links so they know we sent you! yay!), where you fill out a single application to get in front of many companies at once.

Getting laid off is an unwelcome surprise for anyone, and searching for a job when you just lost one brings its own set of challenges. We’ll address some of those in our next blog post: “How to talk about getting laid off and what you want next.” Meanwhile, we’d love to hear your thoughts, tips and suggestions here on Medium, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Onward and upward!