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February 20, 2002
Techies on the Rebound
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High-tech companies have begun trying to rehire some of the employees they shed only a year ago, the Washington Post reports.

For example, Reston, Va.-based Cysive Inc. slashed its ranks by more than half last year, cutting 150 workers. But already, six have rejoined the software company, according to Recruiting Director Penny Jobin.

She added that more may be on the way, especially those with technology experience in areas such as engineering, information architecture, and Web development.

"These people were hard to recruit the first time around," Jobin told the Post. "If I need another one of those, I'm going to look at the people we let go. They know the business and they've proven themselves."

Many cash-strapped technology firms are pursuing the same strategy or something like it. The Post notes that some firms are offering former staffers part-time or consulting jobs, sometimes without health care and other benefits, while they wait for demand for their products and services to increase.

"This is about hesitancy," said Paul Villella of the personnel company HireStrategy. "Not only do we see it, we're getting requests for it. This is so reminiscent of coming out of the last recession in 1993."

Back then, Villella recalled, it took companies from six to nine months to feel stable enough to commit to a batch of new permanent workers. In the meantime, they met pressing needs with temps and contractors, staffers who could be cut loose on an hour's notice if things turned sour.

That's what one telecommunications employee faces today. The worker, who has about two years of experience and who was dismissed in a round of job cuts last year, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of his precarious employment situation.

Jane Weizmann, a human resources expert at the D.C. consulting firm Watson Wyatt Worldwide, told the newspaper that this is where companies will start to benefit if they conducted their layoffs in a dignified way.

"How you treated them when you didn't need them will determine whether they're willing to come back," Weizmann said. "There are ones who left employees in the lurch with regard to travel reimbursements, vacation time.

"In the future, those companies and names associated with them are going to have a hard time recruiting."

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