Googler Laid Off on Vacation Felt Like She Was ‘Just a Number’

  • An ex-Google recruiter says the company laid staff off like they were “just a number.”
  • Louise Coyne was a contractor. Google never contacted her to confirm she’d been laid off, she said.
  • Instead, contractors found out they’d lost their jobs by being locked out of corporate accounts.

An ex-Google recruiter says the way the company laid staff off made her feel like she was “just a number.”

Louise Coyne told Insider she was on paid leave when CEO Sundar Pichai announced Google was laying off 12,000 workers, or around 6.4% of its workforce, on January 20.

Coyne said she heard the news when a colleague messaged her, saying that a number of people on her team – which recruited Google Cloud staff – had been locked out of their work accounts. Coyne, who had worked at Google’s Dublin office for around 18 months through an agency, said that all the contractors within the people operations division in Dublin were laid off.

Google directed Insider to google/message-ceo/january-update/” data-analytics-module=”body_link”>Pichai’s layoff announcement when contacted for comment.

Coyne said she never received any news about her termination from Google itself. Her agency sent an email, viewed by Insider, a few hours after the contractors lost access to work systems, saying Google had informed it that afternoon that their roles had been cut “due to internal operational changes.”

Another Google recruiter based in Dublin told Insider he found out he’d lost his job when he was gradually locked out of company systems, culminating in a call with one of his candidates disconnecting.

The nature of the layoffs was “horrifying,” Coyne said.

“To be quite honest, it’s just such a ‘fuck you, you’re just a number’ kind of mentality that we were so indoctrinated to think didn’t exist there,” she said. “It’s really hurtful.”

“I understand that business decisions need to be made. I understand that working as a contractor, it’s the nature of the beast,” Coyne continued. “But there is a correct way to treat people and this isn’t it … It would’ve been nice to have been told by our managers that this was coming.”

Prior to the announcements, staff had been somewhat anxious about potential layoffs after seeing other tech companies reduce their workforce, but managers hadn’t indicated that Google would be affected too, Coyne said.

The abruptness of the layoffs also meant that recruiters couldn’t update candidates they were working with on the progress of their applications. “We’ve just left these people completely in the dark,” Coyne told Insider.

Google told US staff that they were laid off in an early-morning email on January 20, but some staff who didn’t see the email straight away found out something was awry when they were locked out of their work laptops and emails.

One software engineer who had been at Google for less than six months told Insider that the layoffs were a “rude awakening.” The engineer spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was new to the tech industry and didn’t want to damage his employment prospects, but his identity is known to Insider.

“The worst part is how they let all the employees know,” he said.

He said he woke up when a colleague rang him to say he couldn’t message him on Google’s internal chat. The engineer quickly realized he was locked out of everything, and then saw the email sent to his private account saying he’d been let go. He’d relocated from another state to work at Google’s Mountain View complex in California, he said.

Tim Wilde, a site reliability engineer based in Boston who’s been at Google for around a decade, told Insider that the mood at Google has been “muted” since the layoffs. He said that after seeing high-performing and long-tenured staff let go, employees weren’t as motivated as before because they don’t know if hard work is enough to prevent them from future cuts.

The layoffs could push some people to quit their jobs and make hiring harder, Wilde said.

“They’ve thrown away a ton of goodwill,” he added.

Were you recently laid off by Google? Or do you still work there? Contact this reporter at

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