Unemployment is no longer a stigma thanks to the new breed of high-tech job seekers - casualties of the dot-com collapse. Professor Lisbeth Claus reports
These days the Silicon Valley headlines focus on lay-offs, downsizing, dot-com implosion and economic downturn. Having successfully crossed into the much-anticipated new millennium, the high-tech industry was not prepared at all, just a few months later, for the NASDAQ stock crisis, the rapid downturn of the new economy sector and recent implosion of many dot-com companies.
This engendered a chain reaction in many companies that were closely connected to the meteoric rise and success of the dot-coms. As statistics indicate, since the dawn of the year 2000, many new-economy knowledge staff have received the proverbial pink slip due to the demise of their dot-com company or the extreme cost-cutting measures resulting in lay-offs and high-tech downsizing. Others workers have left for jobs at more secure, traditional companies.
This downsizing phenomenon, although reminiscent of economic recessions of the past, is different from a number of perspectives. It is different because of the type of laid-off employee, the way in which the terminations are being handled and the changed perception of potential employers towards the unemployed. In Silicon Valley style, the dot-com pink slips offer a few lessons for HR professionals.
For the first time in employment history, the profile of most of those made redundant is that of young knowledge worker who has participated in one of the most exciting technological revolutions and entrepreneurial global work environment experiments.
While these workers can be divided into two camps - those with technical skills and those with general business skills - both groups tend to be highly skilled, electronically savvy and multiculturally diverse. They have worked on teams, functioned in a very fast-paced environment and are project-driven. Although their competency profiles should be an asset for traditional companies, the autonomy they have enjoyed in their dot-com companies may not easily fit the more corporate culture of the traditional economy. The lure of foregoing the 24/7 for a more balanced work life and the security of a larger company may counteract their apathy towards a more structured tradi