In the wake of mass layoffs, tech workers are reconsidering their futures

When Quinn switched from the video game industry to a tech company in 2019, job security was a big part of the reason.

Quinn, who asked that his last name be withheld to avoid hurting future employment prospects, said the gaming world has been “feast and famine,” with people hiring and firing all the time. A traditional software role — working on learning and development in a customer service company — seemed like a safer bet.

Quinn, now 28, wasn’t alone. For years, a job at a large Silicon Valley company was one of the plumpest gigs Americans could find. Even after all the rhetoric in the early 2010s about making the world a better place began to ring hollow in the wake of scandals at Facebook, Uber, and other companies, a killer combination of high wages, plentiful perks, flexible management, and the San Francisco Bay Area. A campus lifestyle fond Many beginners in their careers.

The pandemic seemed to bear this hypothesis. When everyone’s life suddenly migrated online, software giants saw their inventory soar and tech workers enjoyed the luxury of programming from the living room sofa.

Quinn’s decision to enter the industry seemed prescient at the time. “It gave me a strong sense of security and stability that wasn’t really there in hindsight,” he said.

In November, Cowen was laid off, as part of a wave of powerful tech companies Cut jobs and implement a hiring freeze That started last summer and has picked up steam through late 2022 and into this year.

Since January 1st, hordes of employees have been put into Amazon’s shredder (18,000 Layoffs), Microsoft (10,000 Layoffs), Salesforce (8000 Layoffs) and Google (12,000 Layoffs). These cuts came on the back of previous circumcisions in Meta (11,000 Layoffs in November) and Snap (1300 Layoffs in August), as well as on Twitter, which is fade for other reasons.

The industry-wide downturn has caused many tech workers—no longer enjoying the close attention of an industry desperate to attract the best and brightest talent—to re-evaluate their careers just as Quinn once did.

Where they go now could reshape the industry for decades to come.

“One person’s loss is another’s gain,” said Dan Ives, a technical analyst and general manager at Wedbush Securities. Highly skilled developers and software engineers will not be out of work for long, Ives said, and the companies that attract them are likely to be at the forefront of exciting new sectors such as artificial intelligence, electric vehicles, cloud storage and cybersecurity. “I think it’s a repositioning of technology.”

Ives said the cuts come on the heels of rapid, unsustainable hiring over the past five years. “Now, the clock has struck midnight for overgrowth, [and] You see the tech CEOs taking off the band-aid.”

It’s a moment with Notable similarities to the bursting of the dotcom bubble in the early 2000s, when an incomplete version of the internet economy was reduced to a haze before the eyes of investors amid the collapse of Pets.com and other frothy Web 1.0 projects.

Still, that crumbling empire provided the raw materials for the next 20 years of technology, Ives said, by injecting a group of talented software engineers back into the market. He said these recent layoffs could have the same effect.

“I view it as a reshuffling and a change in click order, rather than a sign of darker times,” said the analyst.

Switch on the so-called FAANG COMPANIES – Facebook (now Meta), Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google – an integral part of a larger trend in which tech workers are disillusioned with many of Silicon Valley’s biggest employers, most of whom have at this point caused In the emergence of defects in reputation if not outright scandals.

Some workers may now, now laid off and with their golden handcuffs clipped, take the opportunity to find jobs more in line with their values.

said John Chadfield, secretary at United Tech and the Allied Workers Union in Britain. “It’s not just ambition anymore.”

Some software engineers now expect to prioritize working for smaller companies that can offer them remote working flexibility, four-day work weeks and a better quality of life, Chadfield predicted. Others will switch to flexible Uber freelance work.

But the upcoming shifts may be more radical than simply moving employees from big tech companies to smaller, leaner firms. It is sometimes said that every company is now a software company, given how pervasive technology is in every aspect of the economy, and many non-tech companies still have good reasons to hire people that traditional technology companies just laid off.

Chadfield said he has recently seen technical workers take on roles in government agencies and NGOs.

“They don’t run for cover; many of them don’t need to take anything that comes their way,” he said of tech workers. “They fill open market gaps well and pick where they go.”

Allstate insurance company recently pointed out It plans to hire laid-off tech workers to help boost its technology capabilities. Provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs Similar overtures.

The current turmoil at traditional big tech companies is not representative of tech professions in general, which now span a wide range of sectors, including health care and banking, said one of the engineering directors, Jess — who was let go from a San Francisco software company in December.

“Every company has an app, they have a website, they have a service,” said Jess, who withheld his last name because he is actively looking for work. “You might see an expansion of what it means to work in technology, and what it means to work in engineering.”

A job in technology isn’t necessarily “in a place with a sled and a ball pit,” he said, referring to the popular summer camp atmosphere in which many Silicon Valley companies grew up before the pandemic.

However, some college graduates are still drawn to the tech giants despite the newfound lack of job security available.

Allison, an undergraduate studying computer science in the Bay Area, said she accepted an offer at a FAANG company for two defense industry opportunities in Pennsylvania and Idaho.

“It’s better to apply for a place that gives you $250,000 and be laid off in 6 months… than to go to Idaho and get $100,000,” she said. “I am willing to accept the risk to get a lot more money.”

She said some of her friends, who had previously trained in technology at companies outside the traditional tech ecosystem, were still pursuing full-time jobs at larger companies. Again, push is the drive.

But not everyone is so lucky to get a job before graduation, she said. Many of her friends sent hundreds of requests, some even settling for internships, with no response.

Particularly affected by the pull are non-technical tech workers — those who don’t write code or possess other engineering skills — said Natalia Nedzvetskaya, a UC Berkeley doctoral student who studies tech employee activism.

“The majority of these layoffs affect people [working in] Recruit or serve clients in these companies,” Nedzhvetskaya said.

She said many tech companies also rely on temporary or contract workers who — even in boom times — face vastly less stable working conditions than their full-time counterparts.

“More than 50% of contract labor is for Google, and if these people are not rehired, or if their contract is canceled before its completion date, this will not be recorded as a layoff,” Nedzhvetskaya said.

For Quinn — a tech worker who switched from video games to software in 2019, only to be laid off late last year — changing economic winds have forced him to reconsider his commitment to the tech industry.

Although he initially thought he would simply find a similar job at another tech company after being laid off from customer service, he has since struggled to repeat what he lost. He said many companies’ applications in the past few months were nearing their final steps, only for a sudden hiring freeze to put him back into the search process.

Quinn is now looking for roles in healthcare, game and app development, and even mortgage notarization — that is, sectors that use technology but whose employers are not tech companies per se. He said he wasn’t sure if he was “dead” to stay in traditional technology. He added that many of his colleagues are asking themselves the same thing.

“I think everyone I talk to, at least, has a soul-searching moment: ‘Well, is that what I thought?’” Quinn said. “Am I aloof from all these economic transformations?”

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