What just happened? Many former employees at big tech companies are admitting that they had very little to do at their jobs, despite earning high salaries. One such under-worked and overpaid former tech worker is 33-year-old Madelyn Machado, who left Microsoft to join Facebook's parent company Meta as a recruiter in the fall of 2021.

In a viral TikTok video, Machado claimed she was hired for a $190,000 yearly salary, but had basically nothing to do during her stint at the company. "I do think a lot of these companies wanted there to be work, but there wasn't enough," she said. Talking to The Wall Street Journal, Machado said that on most days, her work included attending virtual meetings from noon until 3:30 pm before logging off for the day.

Curiously, Machado says she was told by her recruiters at Meta that she wouldn't be hiring anybody during her first year at the company. She also claims that some of her colleagues told her that they had spent two years at the company without ever hiring anyone. Unfortunately for her, she only worked for six months at Meta before being fired last year for posting TikTok videos that the company said posed a conflict of interest.

Another former Meta worker who recounted a similar story is 35-year-old Britney Levy, who says she joined the company in April 2022 but received her first and only assignment shortly before being laid off in November. Since then, companies across the tech industry, including Amazon, Meta, Microsoft, Twitter, PayPal, Yahoo, Zoom, IBM, Spotify, and others, have announced massive layoffs, affecting tens of thousands of employees.

Talking to the WSJ, experts said they believe companies overhired during the pandemic-era boom not because they needed more workers, but to hoard talent from rival companies. According to Vijay Govindarajan, professor at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, the hiring spree was initially fueled by a shortage of tech talent but eventually became a competition, which led to companies "hiring ahead of demand." He also pointed out that that the situation was very similar to what happened in the finance industry in the early 2000s, when companies overhired during periods of high growth, leaving many workers with not enough work.

Others, however, say they believe the tech companies have valid reasons to hire new talents, despite not having enough work for them from the get-go. According to Patrick Moloney, the head of global technology practice at the advisory firm Willis Towers Watson PLC, workers like AI engineers are expected to be in high demand in the near future, so it makes sense for companies to hire them aggressively even if they didn't have a lot to do in their initial months. However, it still doesn't explain why a company would need recruiters with nothing to do but attend meetings all day.