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The great tech hiring slowdown

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Good morning! The plummeting stock market has everyone in the financial world foretelling doom and gloom, and the tech industry isn’t immune. But the stock market isn’t the only indicator to consider when assessing the state of tech — especially where hiring trends are concerned. I’m Anna Kramer, and I’m learning to use an old Canon AE-1. It’s much harder than I expected.

It’s not time to panic — yet

I started yesterday morning certain that the news of hiring freezes and layoffs at places like Meta, Netflix, Robinhood and Uber meant that we were finally about to see some cooling off in the raging hot tech job market we’ve been covering over on the Protocol Workplace team for the last two years. But that’s not exactly what’s happening.

Things aren’t as bad as they seem. After talking with recruiters at big and small tech companies, as well as experts from recruiting firms like Robert Half, it seems more likely that all the course correction in the markets, the bad earnings reports from big tech companies and the layoffs at startups like Mural and Cameo are actually masking what remains an extremely powerful demand for tech workers.

  • Individual companies might be overvalued or have accidentally overhired amid the obscene glut of tech wealth that’s been floating around for the last year.
  • But all of the main indicators for a robust tech job market remain strong despite those course corrections.

Here are some key takeaways from my conversations with recruiters this week:

  • The overall unemployment landscape in the United States still heavily favors workers — according to Department of Labor stats, the number of available jobs hit the country’s all-time record (11.5 million) in March.
  • Those numbers are even more favorable for software engineers and cybersecurity professionals, whose unemployment rates sit somewhere between 0.1% and 0.6%, according to Ryan Sutton, a district president for Robert Half. Sutton considers any unemployment rate between 2% and 4% as exceptionally favorable for workers, meaning that numbers even lower indicate persistent demand.
  • “The traditional trends that tell us the talent demand indicators — average number of offers per candidate, how long it takes us to get a candidate placed, percentage of counter-offers a candidate is facing on a regular basis — those three buckets, we’re still seeing it,” Sutton told me.

Hiring freezes and layoffs are specific to individual tech companies. They may indicate problems with those companies and their specific business models, but likely won’t affect the actual market for tech jobs all that much.

  • Recruiters expect there to be a small decline in the number of counter-offers a person will receive, or perhaps the amount of salary they could negotiate, but pay and job offers aren’t going to substantively decline.
  • One former Facebook recruiter summed up the general feeling shared by everyone: “If I'm gauging on a scale of one to 10 in terms of how concerned I am, I’m probably at a four right now, and it was at two yesterday. There is some concern, but I think for the most part I don't see any dread. Ask me again next week; I might have a different answer for you. I want to keep my finger on the pulse here, but I’m not in a panic.”
Anna Kramer (email | twitter)

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