This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Quishon Walker, a former Tesla recruiter. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I worked as a recruiter at Tsla for two months before being laid off on June 17. And I’m not alone — the company is planning to lay off 10% of salaried employees.
There was no warning. I wasn’t on any performance plan, and I had received nothing but positive feedback during my short stint.
And for what? All for billionaires to continue to save a little more money so they can stay afloat while uprooting the lives of thousands of people.
esla was my dream company
I previously worked at Apple and Google and consider myself a tech nerd. I was excited to work at Tesla — it has always been a dream company of mine.
My job was to look for candidates to work on the Autopilot self-driving software and on the deep-learning team. I live in Austin, Texas, and worked remotely. I really loved my job and ordered two Teslas for myself, which I have since canceled.
On the last day of April, our company’s CEO, Elon Musk, sent an email saying we needed to return to the office.
My understanding was that I would be a fully remote employee since my entire team was remote. I was transparent with my manager about my intention to work remotely when I was hired, especially since there wouldn’t be anyone to collaborate with or support me if I went into the office. And they shared a lot of my concerns.
Then we got word the company was entering a hiring freeze
I was at an Autopilot recruiting event in California on June 2 when I got the email announcing a hiring freeze at Tesla. It was shocking for me. I hadn’t been through this situation at any other point in my career.
But my colleagues reassured me that I shouldn’t worry about it and that our team would be fine since Autopilot was one of Musk’s priorities and personal favorites. We didn’t slow down; we just started recruiting at a higher bar and made sure only exceptional candidates got through.
The very next day we found out about job cuts
It was just back-to-back-to-back. The day after the hiring-freeze announcement, we were told the company planned to reduce its salaried workforce by 10%. My colleagues were a bit on edge but still not worried. I was concerned, but I trusted their expertise since they’d been at the company longer than I had. But this was also why I was worried: As the new hire, I didn’t have the data or metrics to prove my worth on the team just yet.
Two weeks later, on June 17, while I was on a call with a candidate, I got a text from my colleague that said someone on their team had been laid off.