6 Steps for Startups to Tap Into Laid-Off Talent

One of the key factors to a startup or tech company’s success is having a strong and capable team to drive growth and innovation. This year has presented unique challenges, but also new opportunities for growth and adaptation. 

An average of 1,600 tech jobs have been lost every day since 2023 began, representing nearly 300 companies impacted. At this moment, growing tech companies have a unique opportunity to tap into a wider pool of talent.

Knowing where to look for the best employees and matching their skills to your needs is a science and an art. You want to be sure that you’re hiring the right talent— people you can retain at your company and who will contribute in both the short and long-term.

Not sure where to begin? In this article, we’ll share 6 steps you can take to tap into laid-off talent.

To start, spend some time and energy working with your senior team on laying out very specific job descriptions, which include not only the technical skills required, but also the personality types that tend to thrive in your organization. Have your interview questions and team ready, and be sure to add some queries related to candidates’ recent experience. We’ll delve into that in Step #4.

Step 1: Make sure your company’s brand is reflective of your current mission and goals. 

As a startup/scale-up, you likely don’t have the same size marketing budget as a big tech brand. Applicants may have never heard of your company.

Branding and marketing should be year-round priorities, but they become especially important when you’re seeking new talent. 

Audit your website to make sure it’s up-to-date, and if you don’t already have a Careers page, create one. Consider including pictures of and quotes from people who work at the company and what they like about it.

Top candidates will have many choices, and your website and other online presence should make potential applicants think, “Wow! That’s a company I’d be proud to work for!”

Be sure to remove job listings once positions are filled. 

Step 2: Use the best talent sources.

Layoffs.fyi and Parachute’s site are both great resources to find reports on which tech companies have eliminated positions, but also lists of job-hunters.

Before you start the interview process, consider which companies may match your company’s culture and future needs. Don’t be swayed just by “brand cache.” In other words, someone who was a superstar at a tech giant with the right skills may have a tough time adjusting to start-up life. 

As with any hiring process, you want to find those candidates who are a great fit and can add immediate value.

Step 3: Be open-minded.

Use this opportunity to create more diversity within your organization. For example, older job seekers often face discrimination. But they may have a wide range of experience and skills that would be of value to your company. 

DEI functions have been hit especially hard by layoffs. Tap into that talent (people who’ve led DEI teams) to build a more inclusive and collaborative culture in your own organization.

Be creative in who you hire and what roles need to be full-time. If you can’t currently afford to hire for an in-house role, consider offering a long-term consulting or SME (subject matter expert) role to an unemployed candidate on a contract basis. It could be a win-win. You can engage a seasoned professional and determine if someone is an excellent long-term hire. 

Step 4: Leverage your network.

Social media is a very powerful tool for finding job hunters. 

Professionals are posting almost immediately on LinkedIn when they’ve lost their jobs. Their supervisors, colleagues, and co-workers often comment same-day, recommending their former team members. 

Pay close attention to how people are posting. If they express gratitude toward their previous employer and articulate what they have to offer another company, you can glean signs of candidates’ attitudes and level of professionalism. 

As a hiring manager, you should showcase the fact that you’re hiring.

  • Post your open positions on LinkedIn.
  • Send an email to your network letting them know you have open spots.
  • Share open roles within your company’s employee base. Not only may some people be interested in applying for those positions themselves, but they may also have friends or former colleagues who are job-hunting or worried about losing their jobs. Offer “finders’ fees” as an added incentive (but only pay out once employees have been on board for a sufficient time period).
  • Use LinkedIn searches and seek out companies and industries that match your needs. People will sometimes post that they’re “Open to Work” on their profiles. Using some of the sources noted above, use company names as a filter.
  • Put a “We’re Hiring!” banner or burst on your company’s website home page and throughout your social media (See Step #1.)
  • If you have a VC and they have a job board, share your open positions on their site. Here’s a great example of a VC job board. 

In other words, cast a wide net and use both automated and human means of sourcing candidates.

Step 5: Tailor Your Hiring Process to Laid-Off Talent.

People who have recently lost their jobs may be insecure, distrustful, anxious, or even depressed. Be sensitive and empathetic. 

Candidates will likely trust you and your company if you build meaningful relationships with them versus transactional ones. Be prepared to engage in open, honest conversations and be clear about your hiring process and timeline. If you aren’t hiring someone, still follow up and thank them for their time and interest. No one likes to be “ghosted” professionally or personally.

Job hunters often share with their downsized colleagues what their experiences are throughout the interview process, and even if someone doesn’t get a particular job, you want them to come away with a positive view of your organization. 

Speaking of positivity, create screening questions that help you understand how a particular candidate deals with sudden changes, disappointment, or failure.

For example, if someone expresses anger or resentment towards their previous employer, be cautious. Of course, being upset when one is let go from a job is a natural human reaction. But if someone bad-mouths their prior company, executives, or co-workers during the search process, your business could potentially be their next target one day.

Today’s job applicants are seeking more than just a salary. Talk to each candidate as an individual to get a better sense of their “hot button” requirements.

Nine out of ten employees will give up income to engage in more meaningful work. Well-being initiatives are also becoming more critical to today’s workers. They are a clear signal that companies are willing to invest in their employees. 

As noted above, company culture is vital. In fact, 60 percent of employees chose their current job because it aligns with their values. 

Remote or hybrid work, PTO, sustainability initiatives, and family leave are all among the other factors that applicants will consider when they are choosing among companies.

Be prepared to answer questions about the financial stability and future plans for your own company. People may be looking for reassurance that they won’t lose their jobs again. But you can’t make any guarantees. Answer any questions about your culture and financial projections honestly and directly.

As with any hire, check references thoroughly. Try to get the best possible understanding of why certain positions were eliminated within the candidate’s former employer.

Step 6: Make Sure Your Job Isn’t Just a Way Station.

You may be enamored by the thought of hiring a senior engineer from Google or Amazon. And the candidate may tell you they love your company’s mission and culture. However, keep in mind that start-ups and scale-ups differ vastly from large established businesses. 

Candidates who have been laid off from a huge organization may take the first attractive offer presented to them but ultimately want to return to the big-brand world. 

Again, be totally transparent with every person you interview to make sure the “fit” is correct. You’ll be hiring for today and potentially for years to come!


Tapping into the pool of laid-off talent can be a great opportunity for growing tech companies to build a strong and talented team. By following the 6 steps outlined in this blog, you can attract the right candidates, create a dynamic work environment, and achieve your business goals.

If you're ready to take the next step in finding the best candidates for your open positions, we invite you to try Consider's talent sourcing software. Our platform helps you connect with top talent and streamline your hiring process, so you can focus on what you do best - growing your company. Reach out to book a demo today!

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