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Is 'Quiet Hiring' Secretly Happening Where You Work?

See the signs and decide how to take action

By Judey Kalchik Published 4 months ago Updated 4 months ago 5 min read

I'm so tired of businesses and the media making cutesy names for questionable business practices. This is one of them: Quiet Hiring.

Quiet Hiring is when a company gets the benefit of a person with a new skill without actually hiring anyone.

  • They can hire a contractor.
  • They can bring in someone as a temporary employee.
  • They can ‘expand the role’ of a current employee.

Why is Quiet Hiring happening?

January is the peak time of the year for layoffs; over 10% of all yearly non-voluntary job loss happens in January.

The article below is one that I wrote in August on Medium to prepare my readers for the possibility. Even if you weren’t hit with a job loss it makes sense for you to institute a yearly job tune-up!

However, many companies eliminate positions year round, just check out the listings and trends on LinkedIn for examples, which makes hiring a tricky proposition: how do they justify new employees right after they layoff people? Quiet Hiring fills that purpose. Here’s a better look at the ways it can happen:


Outsourcing the work to non-employees is a straightforward way of getting the right skills applied to the right tasks.

Using contractors eliminates the hidden costs of hiring: no benefits, no unemployment payments, no HR interaction, no relocation complications, and often no need for a physical space or supplies. Contractors are ‘external quiet hires’.

Cons: There is also often no buy-in with company goals or loyalty to company vision since contractors are not usually working there for the long term.

Pros: Contracting may turn into a permanent position. It allows the worker to know the company and to establish a place for themselves. It allows the company to see the work that is produced. Mutually: it can establish a good fit.

Temporary Employees

An established and limited scope of work within an established and limited timeframe is the perfect scenario for bringing in a temporary employee.

Having a signed contract is a must to protect both the company from unemployment claims at the end of the temping, and to protect the employee from premature ending of the position and thus their pay. Temporary employees are also ‘external quiet hires’.

Pro Tip: If you are considering accepting a temporary position make sure that there is protection for you in case the company wants to end the position before the agreed-upon time. Either a written notice to you 15 working days before ending the position, or a two-paycheck payout to you if it ends early, or something similar.

Expanded Roles

Besides dealing with survivors guilt, the employees left after a layoff may become ‘internal quiet hires’ when they are asked to take on some of the tasks and responsibilities of the departed employees. This could be on a temporary basis or it may become a permanent part of the employee’s responsibility.

Sometimes this is done with a change of title, sometimes a right-sizing of pay, sometimes through a perk such as an office instead of a cubicle, or an extra week of paid time off.

More stealthy still: it can be an elite recognition, perhaps an elevation of the top 1% of employees, incentivizing top performers to take on additional work, drive projects, and create programs. Often the only reward for participation is the prestige of being chosen and participating.

The upsides for the company include: no additional recruiting costs, no relocation reimbursement, no lengthy on-boarding, no extra benefit costs.

There can be upsides for the employee, too, although this ask generally happens during emotional and organizational upheaval when that may not be at the top of the employees priorities! So keep in mind that new responsibilities:

  • increase your experience
  • increase your worth to the company
  • increase your deliverables

These can be used during quarterly (who am I kidding? yearly if you are fortunate!) reviews and salary negotiations with the current employer.

It also makes a person more appealing than others should they end up entering the job market; the expanded role sets them apart from others that may have had the same primary job function.

What does this mean to you?

If you haven’t already, read the linked article above regarding Layoff Season and see if you can identify yourself and your company in the warning signs within the article.

Decide where you want to be: if you sense a layoff coming or are still reeling from one within the past few days: do you want to stay?

If the answer is yes:

  • do you want to have an expanded role? If so, make that known and outline how you want it to be done. being the person to suggest it gives you the advantage and shows you as a problem-solver.
  • will you need additional training or certification? This is a good time to find that training and present it as the solution to getting the right skills in to the company…. in YOU.
  • Training YOU is something YOU get to keep, no matter where you go.

If the answer is no; you don’t want to stay:

  • start work NOW on the strategies in the linked Layoff Season article.
  • Get you resume, portfolio of results, networking, references, and share the word ‘quietly’ that you are open to something new.
  • The very best time to find a new job is when you are currently employed.


With over 30 years of experience, and working through the collapse of THREE companies due to some combination of over-reaching, underperforming, poor leadership, and resistance to change: please allow me to share my lessons with you!

I write shortform business and sales-related content on Medium, where the original version of this was first published (you can find it on my Medium profile page here); please let me know in the comments if you think I should share them here on Vocal, too.


Here's a fun look at a serious issue for anyone with employees or customers:


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You can also find me on Medium, where the author first shared a version of this article.


About the Creator

Judey Kalchik

It's my time to find and use my voice.

Poetry, short stories, memories, and a lot of things I think and wish I'd known a long time ago.

You can also find me on Medium

And please follow me on Threads, too!

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Comments (4)

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  • L.C. Schäfer4 months ago

    This piece reminded me why I like being self employed 🧐 It's hard sometimes, but I really don't miss any of that office culture.

  • Novel Allen4 months ago

    Maybe it's time to give the idea I saw in a movie (forget which one), where everyone is assigned a job at an early age depending on their leanings and inclinations. Do away with the institutional and traditional. I disliked offices with a passion.

  • Dana Crandell4 months ago

    Informative and important. There are so many things I don't miss about the traditional workplace! Great article, Judey, and in regard to sharing your other business-related work, my vote is in favor.

  • Gerald Holmes4 months ago

    Very informative piece Judey. I spent twenty years at a company before being laid off because of contracting. So what did I do? I set myself up as a contractor and stole some of their customers!

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