By Ryan M. Sutton, Executive Director, Technology Practice Group, Robert Half
Every day there’s a new story about a tech firm in trouble or how the industry is crumbling. And the interest in these articles is through the roof: They’re continuing to hit the front pages in print and getting the lion’s share of views online. When I open LinkedIn and check the “News” section (the box in the upper right corner), a recap of the latest layoffs is always the most popular article, drawing a significantly higher readership than any other piece.
I can understand the interest. Each time employees read a layoffs story, they’re thinking, “Am I next?” Executives reading these stories are thinking: “How will these cuts impact our industry, supply of talent or the stability of our firm?”
If we shaped our views and activity solely based on headlines, we’d be in deep despair about the state of technology and what’s to come. But at work, as in life, nothing is black and white. There are several points missing from the conversation about the tech landscape.
I want to reframe the dialogue and add different perspectives — ones that I hope will help us all move forward. Below are three of the most common questions I get from job seekers, C-suite executives and reporters, along with answers to provide a fresh context.
1. When will the market go back to normal?
First, we need to redefine “normal” as the market since COVID-19’s onset is anything but — and it shouldn’t be used as the benchmark to compare all others. The massive cuts at the onset of the pandemic were followed by a hiring frenzy we’ve never seen before. As I mentioned to a journalist recently, hiring between August 2020 and May 2022 was like lightning in a bottle.
Is the market as good as it was in 2021? No. But contrary to what the headlines would have us believe, it’s not falling apart. Nationally, there are 1.9 job openings for every unemployed person. And according to recent stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment rates are at their lowest levels in decades.
Demand for technology professionals continues to be solid right now, but the layoffs have not created a surge of available tech talent in the market. It continues to be challenging for employers to find and recruit the right staff.
Workers who have lost jobs in Big Tech are more intrigued by roles at small and midsize firms. Those who previously valued pay and name recognition above all else now place significantly greater value on other factors — like stability, a positive work culture and flexibility — that smaller firms offer.
New perspective: We’re adjusting to a new environment and, in doing so, will establish new benchmarks — or a new normal — moving forward.
2. Why do we see so many organizations making such large cuts?
Some Big Tech organizations hired tens of thousands of workers during the hiring frenzy. They are now shedding positions as they deal with reduced demand, other business challenges, or the recognition that they were overstaffed. These hiring sprees were simply not sustainable over the long term.
Note that when I use the term “Big Tech,” I’m referring to large, publicly traded, well-known names. As you read about cuts, it’s important to note that these firms are making the largest share of them.
It’s also critical to understand that Big Tech does not define the entire tech hiring landscape. In today’s environment, practically all firms are tech firms. The reason? Regardless of industry or size, most organizations rely on technology to operate effectively: We depend on functions like cybersecurity, data analytics and artificial intelligence, to name a few.
Robert Half is known as a global talent solutions firm, but we’re powered by technology to offer the best services to our clients and candidates. We wouldn’t be successful without it.
New perspective: Big Tech doesn’t dictate the health of the entire industry or the demand for tech talent in other industries.
3. Is this a good time to make a career move? If so, how?
The headlines may have people believe that it’s the wrong time to make a move — and that sitting tight or postponing a job search is the way to go. This is not the case.
- Moderate your news intake, and keep it in perspective. Big layoffs aren’t impacting all companies — or even all of technology.
- Talk to a local recruiter who specializes in the roles that interest you. That person can give you an accurate snapshot of the trends, salary ranges and open roles that apply to your specific situation. Having this intel can fuel and speed up your search.
- Ask tough questions in the interview. Focus on company stability and future plans for the role. If a slowdown occurs, what happens to this position?
- Be open to contract work. Some hiring managers are cautious right now, turning full-time roles into contract or contract-to-hire positions. And, some contract roles that used to be six-month projects are now perhaps three months to give the hiring manager flexibility. Don’t ignore these positions — they could lead to a full-time role or, at the very least, give you the added skills and experience that will lead you to one.
New perspective: Don’t think about it being a bad time to make a move because it’s not about time. It’s about making a bad decision for the wrong reasons. Do your research and ask questions, so you can make the right decision and go to the right firm for you.
The market is constantly shifting, and it can be difficult to keep up. Know that when one firm is making news by shedding workers, others are hiring, often under the radar and without the glare of the media. Robert Half works with growing firms and often learns of positions before they hit the open market. Reach out to us so we can offer a balanced, local market perspective. We’re here to help you make the best decisions to build your career.
Ryan M. Sutton is an executive director at Robert Half, leading the technology practice for the firm. He joined the company in 1999 as a recruiter and has been promoted multiple times to roles of increasing visibility. Prior to joining Robert Half, he worked in public accounting.