Despite big layoffs, it’s still a great time to work in tech, experts say: ‘I’ve seen bad job markets…this is not it’
Raveena Mathur had heard the rumors about layoffs coming to Silicon Valley for months — but the warnings didn't scare her.
She had been working at a Big Tech firm as a senior business analyst for eight months, and was convinced she had one of the most secure jobs in the world.
Then, one week before Thanksgiving, Mathur got the call: She was let go, along with hundreds of her colleagues, in a companywide layoff.
"I was shocked," Mathur says. "I thought I had joined a big, stable company, and I was working extremely hard, putting in 70 hours per week and getting a lot of recognition for my work from managers … and then suddenly, I'm locked out of the projects I'm working on, and expected to transfer my notes to other people so they could take over my work? It felt violating."
Mathur is one of the more than 70,000 employees at U.S.-based tech companies that have lost their jobs in mass job cuts over the past 12 months.
However, despite the recent barrage of pink slips, experts say it's still a great time to be a technology worker.
These layoffs represent a small fraction of the tech workforce — and many of the tech workers who lost their jobs are finding new opportunities relatively quickly in a still tight job market. Nearly 80% of laid-off tech workers found new roles within three months of beginning their job search, according to a November 2022 ZipRecruiter survey.
A silver lining in Silicon Valley
The past several years have been chaotic for tech titans like Meta, Twitter and Amazon — from staffing crises to leadership tumult — which has given a leg up to small and midsize tech companies looking to recruit top talent who might have otherwise gone to larger firms.
"We're seeing a lot of active hiring in the small to mid-cap tech companies all across the U.S.," Bert Bean, CEO of Insight Global, one of the largest IT staffing firms in the U.S., says. "These companies didn't overhire as much as their larger competitors did throughout the pandemic when the tech sector experienced rapid growth, so they haven't had to resort to hiring freezes or layoffs."
There has been an "overwhelming demand" for software engineers, full-stack developers, data scientists, cloud architects and other similar, highly specialized roles at these companies, Bean adds.
Mathur started looking for a new role the morning after she got laid off. She updated her resume and reached out to a couple of recruiters who had messaged her on LinkedIn throughout the years to let them know she was on the job market.
One of the recruiters recommended Mathur for an open data scientist role at a consumer electronic company — two months after she was laid off, she got the job.
"Getting laid off was overwhelming at first, but I quickly realized how in-demand my skills were as a tech worker," she says. "There are so many people out there who are willing to invest in your talent and want to work with you."
Three years ago, "everyone wanted to work at the 'big brand name' companies like Google or Uber," Kyle Elliott, a tech career coach, says. "Now, they're realizing that these larger companies aren't as stable as they thought."
Elliott has noticed increased interest in smaller companies among the tech professionals he coaches following the latest round of layoffs.
"Tech workers are changing the parameters around their job search," he says. "They're no longer prioritizing a big paycheck or name recognition — they'd much rather work for a company that really cares about their employees, and isn't going to lay off hundreds of people soon."
Tech talent is still 'desperately needed' in many industries
While some tech analysts have warned that the recent spate of layoffs is a sign for Silicon Valley that the worst has yet to come, workplace experts say these fears are overblown.
Megan Slabinski has helped recruit and hire tech talent in Seattle for almost 25 years, including through the recessions of 2008 and 2020.
"I've seen bad job markets for tech workers, and this is not it," Slabinski, a tech jobs expert at Robert Half, says. "The greatest demand and need we're seeing for hiring right now, in almost every industry, is for tech professionals."
In the past 12 months, businesses spent an average of $11.7 million on IT staff, and 78% of managers say they're planning to increase their budget and headcount toward IT hiring in 2023 to be able to meet increasing digital demands, according to a new report from MuleSoft, which surveyed 1,050 business leaders across the globe.
While the pace and prevalence of digital transformation have been steadily increasing over the past decade, the Covid-19 pandemic "poured gasoline on traditional business models of organization and accelerated this trend — as well as the need for technologists — to keep up with this transformation," Slabinski says.
Companies in non-tech industries such as education, health care and government have often had to compete with larger tech companies for talent, Matt McLarty, the global field chief technology officer for MuleSoft, says.
"Businesses have desperately needed tech professionals for some time," he adds. Now that more tech workers are out of a job — or growing disillusioned with Silicon Valley giants — employers in non-tech industries are being "opportunistic" and "swooping in."
The promise of Big Tech might have lost its luster for some who are looking to more stable, greener pastures — but as technology becomes more and more ingrained in our society, McLarty says, these jobs will become increasingly in-demand, no matter what shape the economy is in.
"At the end of the day, technological innovation is a human endeavor," he says. "Chat GPT can't do everything."
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