HR Getting Cut In Microsoft Layoff

Jan 22, 2009
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

Microsoft this morning said it would lay off 5,000 of its nearly 100,000 workers over the next 18 months starting with 1,400 today.

The layoffs will be spread among many, but not all, divisions including HR, which was specifically mentioned in the announcement. At least some of the company’s 250 or so internal recruiters are among those laid off today.

One recruiter, who works outside the company’s Redmond, Washington, headquarters, told us he and his colleagues were “still sorting it out.” He was not directly affected, “as of now.”

Another recruiter, who works far from Microsoft headquarters, confirmed she was among those let go.

“It’s OK,” she said. “I understand. Things happen with the economy.” She had few details about the severance package or other terms of the layoff, explaining she would be meeting with HR later. However, she was certain from she had been told so far that the company “is not going to leave you out in the cold.”

Last fall, Microsoft began trimming its contract workforce including all its contract recruiters. Shally Steckerl, a former recruiting director at Microsoft and now a VP with Arbita, told us that he personally knew of 35 whose contracts were ended. Many of them, and many of his former recruiting colleagues from Microsoft, have reached him to him in the past several months, reinvigorating their networks.

Finding new recruiting jobs, Steckerl told us, is not impossible, but it is challenging, especially for those who have spent their career in a single industry. Those recruiters, he says, will have a “tough time making that transition” from one industry to another. Recruiters with experience in other industries, even if it’s “old experience, but a variety of experience” will find the going easier, Steckerl says.

Microsoft will provide outplacement services for its laid-off workers, according to this morning’s announcement. How that will be handled wasn’t detailed, and contacts at Microsoft either couldn’t be reached or didn’t know. However, one Microsoft recruiter who declined to give us her name said she had heard that some recruiters would be reassigned to work with the displaced workers.

Google terminated some 300 contract recruiters last fall and then earlier this month laid off 100 internal recruiters as part of a company-wide belt tightening. Google disclosed its cuts on the company’s official blog. Microsoft has so far said nothing about staff cuts on its blogs and even its Employee Evangelist, Heather Hamilton, has not yet discussed the layoffs.

Challenger, Gray, and Christmas, the outplacement firm, issued a press release shortly after the announcement noting that the layoff was the “first layoff event of this size and scope in the company’s history.” The firm warned that “other companies that have proven adept at avoiding layoffs, such as Southwest Airlines, FedEx, Aflac, and Toyota North America, may find themselves equally vulnerable as the downturn continues to transcend industries, while companies like Hypertherm, Lincoln Electric, and Nucor, might have to rethink their no-layoff policies or find increasingly creative ways to cut costs.”

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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