This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with a former Amazon employee laid off on January 18 as part of the company’s 18,000-person job cut. She spoke on condition of anonymity to protect her career, but Insider has verified her identity and former employment. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
It sucked to find out I was laid off over email. I know it was probably timed to go out to everyone at the same time, but it was a very generic email, which didn’t feel great.
The first email came early in the morning on January 18, saying something along the lines of “layoffs are coming, we’re here to support you,” and then an hour later, I got the email confirming they eliminated my position.
For the past year, I’ve worked as a technical recruiter at Amazon Web Services, and I loved it so much. It’s just devastating to have gotten laid off. When you find a team that is so supportive, it’s really hard not to take it personally when these kinds of things happen. I thought I was doing well, and I had pretty high numbers for what I was doing.
After receiving the initial email informing me that I was laid off, I heard from my organization’s higher-ups and later from HR. It felt extremely robotic.
This whole process has been extremely frustrating because of the lack of transparency we were provided. I know Amazon is a giant company, and I know the logistics of a more personalized approach would have been a nightmare, but on the other hand, we are human beings. This is our livelihood.
I expected more job cuts ever since our CEO, Andrew Jassy, put out a statement 2 weeks ago that more layoffs were coming on the 18th.
It was terrifying. All of us were on edge for 2 weeks, but I was in denial. I thought I was safe.
Although I worked in recruiting and Amazon had been on a hiring freeze since November, we had projects that we were working on, and we were keeping busy.
Most of the time I worked at Amazon, it didn’t feel like a giant corporation. I’m sure everyone says they were on the best team, but I truly believe I was on one of the healthiest teams I’ve ever experienced.
I’m just speculating, but I wonder if the higher-ups would have even told us that layoffs were coming if it hadn’t been leaked first. It felt like they weren’t going to tell us until the day before.
Over those 2 weeks after the story about additional layoffs leaked, there was no clarity from management. I didn’t know if it would be random, performance-based, or based on tenure. The lack of transparency made it feel like I was just a line item instead of a human being.