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'Talent directory': Tech firms put up lists of retrenched workers to help them find new jobs

SINGAPORE — They used to keep things "hush-hush", but now some tech startups have been publishing the names of employees they have retrenched as a way to help them find a new job.

'Talent directory': Tech firms put up lists of retrenched workers to help them find new jobs

Tech startups are helping workers get other jobs by putting up their profiles on public lists.

  • Such public listings have emerged amid slew of layoffs during the Covid-19 pandemic 
  • More than 500 retrenched individuals in Singapore are on these lists
  • Firms put positive spin on their lists with one endorsing listed individuals as “an asset for any company”
  • A retrenched individual on the list said more than five people have reached out to her with opportunities 


SINGAPORE — They used to keep things "hush-hush", but now some tech startups have been publishing the names of employees they have retrenched as a way to help them find a new job. 

These lists are called “alumni” or “talent” directories.

It is unclear which company started the trend but among those that have published such lists are food-delivery company Deliveroo, travel firm Klook and professional networking portal LinkedIn. 

Employees said that with a number of firms publishing such lists, it has helped to remove the stigma of being retrenched.

A local initiative called FreshlyBaked.io, which is collating these lists — including a few that are community-led, said that there are more than 550 professionals, managers, executives and technicians in Singapore on these lists. 

For instance, rental accommodation firm Airbnb has the profiles of 44 Singapore-based individuals who consented to be named on its list, which was published in May. More than 1,000 Airbnb employees worldwide are on the list.  

Meanwhile, ride-hailing company Grab has 121 former employees on its directory, including 46 who are based in Singapore.

Recently laid-off Grab employee Silas Khua, 33, said his decision to be part of Grab’s directory was a “no-brainer”.

“During this period, it's better to have more sources to put your name and experience in front of more potential employers,” said Mr Khua, who held the position of a regional rewards partnership associate.

A Grab spokesperson said its talent directory is part of its job transition “toolkit” for displaced employees which also includes learning resources and guides.

She said: “We are glad that some potential employers have been reaching out to alumni in the talent directory to arrange interviews and we will continue to support them (our employees) in the coming months.”

EMPLOYEES WHO WERE LET GO ARE ASSETS: COMPANIES 

Skyscanner is one of the latest firms to start its own directory which it is promoting on multiple channels, including LinkedIn and Twitter.  

The list, which went live on Tuesday (Aug 11) following its restructuring announcement last month, said that the employees featured are “some of our amazing and talented team”. 

Its spokesperson told TODAY that the directory was put together to recognise employees impacted by proposed changes to its business. 

“It is worth noting that the changes we are proposing to make to our structure and teams are in no way a reflection of the quality of our excellent people and their work,” she said.

“They are the result of a global pandemic that no one truly anticipated and the widespread impact that this has had across our industry.”

She added that the talent directory is one of the ways it is supporting its employees during this time. 

There are also an alumni networking group, enhanced redundancy pay for the majority of employees and time off for internal and external interviews.

“This is an incredibly hard time for our people and teams, so throughout this process our priority — as it always is — will be to treat everyone with empathy, care and respect,” she said.

Gojek, which made its “alumni directory” known on July 20 through a blog post, said then that these people were “let go through no fault of their own” and “would be an asset for any company”. 

Co-chief executive officer Kevin Aluwi wrote then: “The directory will act as a resource that pulls former Gojek employees into one place so prospective employers can easily access and search for their next superstar hire.”

NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OFF: EMPLOYEES

A 32-year-old talent acquisition executive, who is on one such list but declined to be named, said some of her retrenched colleagues had reservations about putting their names on the list.

But to her, it “makes sense” to be on the directory and let recruiters know that “good people” are being laid off at this time.

Shortly after she was listed this month, her LinkedIn profile received double the number of usual views and more than five parties reached out with opportunities, she said.

Before some of these tech companies started putting out their official lists, a number of ground-up initiatives consolidating profiles of those who were retrenched were already circulating.  

Last month, TODAY reported that at least two community-created and managed spreadsheets were circulating online.

Ms Jennifer Noviana, 26, a community specialist who will be with Skyscanner till mid-August, started a list last month before Skyscanner created an official one. 

“I don't think the people being laid off are out of a job because of their incompetencies but because of company needs, so it's nothing to be ashamed of,” she said. 

“Layoffs are an unfortunate situation to be in but I don't think it should be a taboo for individuals to be recognised as being laid off, especially in a situation where the economy is bad and companies need to make difficult decisions to let people go to survive.”

Her list was shared by colleagues and also higher management. 

She said that any help at this time is appreciated as the job market is highly competitive at the moment with more people vying for fewer openings. 

One job opening can now attract hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants, she added. 

Mr Paul Endacott, 44, chief executive officer of human resource technology and recruitment firm Grit Search, which is behind FreshlyBaked.io, said that retrenchment lists are not something that firms naturally do but times are changing and employers are responding in the correct way.

“The employer-employee relationship has begun to change over time and when you look at leadership and how people are saying it should be, it should be more about empathy, vulnerability etcetera,” he said.

“I don’t think anyone is going to point a finger at companies that are having to let go of people because of this pandemic. People understand there are broader issues so I would encourage companies to move in this direction (of having such initiatives to help employees).”

Related topics

Jobs retrenchment Covid-19 coronavirus

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