“I couldn’t believe it!” Ukrainian Maryana Lukinyuk part of mass layoff by Google

The Ukrainian Maryana Lukinyuk was one of the employees affected by the largest layoffs in Google’s history. Maryana worked at Google under contract through an agency and found out about her dismissal when, one day, she unexpectedly lost access to internal systems. In an interview with the editor of AIN.Capital, Maryana shares how it was and what problems professionals at big technology companies face when they lose their jobs during these challenging times.

How long have you worked at Google? Did you enjoy being part of the team? Did you work remotely or in the office?

I worked at Google for seven months on the recruiting team hiring at Google Cloud in the EMEA region. I live in Ireland, and Google here has a hybrid work model — three days in the office and two days from home.

I had a great team! I was amazed by the high culture at the company, well set up processes, everyone willing to help each other, and lots of growth prospects. If you’ve heard that Google is a great company, it’s true 🙂 I truly enjoyed my job.

How did you find out about the downsizing? Was it a surprise to you? How did you feel? How upset were you?

The job cuts came as a surprise to everyone. We had heard about layoffs at Meta, Amazon, Stripe, Salesforce, etc. But Google had been holding on for a long time, and everyone hoped it would pass us by.

On Friday of last week, I couldn’t access the internal systems at Google. When I started asking my colleagues, it turned out that most of them had a similar situation. Our manager didn’t know the reason either.

We joked that maybe we were laid off, but the company forgot to let us know 🙂

Then we read in the news that Google had announced it was laying off 12,000 employees, and by the end of the day, we had already received official confirmation.

How did it feel? First of all, I was surprised. It happened so suddenly and in such a strange way that I couldn’t believe it. But you have to understand that mass layoffs in big companies are “nothing personal, just business.”

Do you understand exactly how they decided who to fire? Why you?

They identified non-priority sectors and projects that were unprofitable, and they cut roles, in some cases, entire teams. It didn’t matter if they were people who had recently joined or had been working for 10-20 years, C-level workers, or managers.

Unfortunately, HR departments are the ones that are affected first in such cases.

How many of your Google colleagues and acquaintances have been in a similar situation? Do you keep in touch? How have people you know reacted to the layoffs in general?

I had 60 percent of my team downsized. We created a WhatsApp chat to support, talk, share plans, or complain. I also know of global chats for Xooglers (a name for people who used to work at Google) and webinars to support people caught up in the downsizing.

People react differently — from outrage and anger to jokes and words of support and gratitude for colleagues. It depends mostly on one’s character and life situation.

How has the layoff affected your life? What were the main problems it caused? Many people mention their work visa problems, financial difficulties, and difficulties in finding a new job because of the worldwide job market stagnation in the big tech industry.

For me, this layoff is, first and foremost, the loss of a job I love. The financial issue is not that important at the moment. I have a good financial cushion and can stay unemployed and live without income for a while.

Unfortunately, not everyone has that situation. Some people live from paycheck to paycheck, have mortgages and loans, or this job is the only source of income for the whole family.

Also, if people have work visas, they have very limited time to find a new job that will help sponsor them. Unfortunately, there are very few employers like that. I do hope they can find a new job quickly.

Google announced that it would pay cash and bonuses to its laid-off employees. How much will this solve the financial issues for those who lost their jobs?

That’s a question I can’t answer, unfortunately. I worked on a contract through an agency. Contractors do not have any severance packages. Depending on the agency and country worked in, the contractors had their contracts terminated with a week or two notice. No additional bonuses or payments were made.

What are your plans? What are your overall impressions of the current labour market — are the waves of layoffs really as large as we see in the news? How does this affect employment opportunities and the mood of candidates?

The situation on the market right now is not good, to be honest. There are not many job openings, but more people are looking for a job. There is very high competition. People from the big tech industry should expect a significant pay cut.

It’s no secret that big tech offers above-market salaries, and companies that are still hiring will have a hard time competing with that. You should also expect that the job search may take longer.

My plan right now is to sleep a lot 🙂 and look for a job in a relaxed mode. Losing a job can be very stressful, but as long as we are alive, any situation can be handled.