I am not one of those CEOs with “the sky is falling” mentality as far as the economy goes. I think we’re feeling some pain—but not as bad as some were and are predicting. However, we are in the midst of a so-called “tech-cession,” where we are seeing layoffs focused on the tech sector.
From the employer side of the equation, layoffs can represent an opportunity to look at the big picture and trim bloated departments, or to release employees who are problematic, such as those who may resist the changes in culture and inclusivity in your company, or poor performers.
As always, integrity is essential: informing employees in a compassionate way (news flash: no employee should discover they’ve been let go in a Tweet), perhaps with a severance package, as well as job placement assistance, etc.
According to new data for early 2023, “more than 40,000 tech jobs [were] cut in the first three weeks of the year—across more than 150 companies.” Microsoft, Amazon, Meta, Google have also announced job cuts.
These layoffs are a convergence of a number of factors—the global COVID pandemic’s impact on every industry and sector, recessionary indicators, and corporations adding a lot of tech positions during the pandemic as people used technology to enable them to work from home. Companies like Zoom, for example, reached an all-time usage high in the pandemic. In Zoom’s case, 350 million daily users. However, as people have returned to the office, even if hybrid, Zoom use is cooling somewhat—and in fact, they have announced plans to cut about 15 percent of its workforce.
As devastating as a layoff is for those affected, this is also an employer opportunity to find great people. With many entering the job search, it may be a great time to add tech talent to your company. In industries like green energy, which faces a shortage of workers, “On the installation and manufacturing side, U.S. clean energy companies have announced more than 100,000 new jobs since the August  passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. Globally, the current 6 million jobs in clean energy manufacturing could more than double to 14 million by 2030.” In addition, universities and government programs are increasing training, cross-training, and pathways for those positions tackling sustainability challenges.
It is always a good idea, on the employee side, to make sure your LinkedIn and resume are up-to-date and reflect your skillset. This is also not a bad time for tech people, in particular, but others as well, to examine the fields of AI, manufacturing (the CHIPS act will bring further jobs in the semiconductor sector), and the climate-industry for potential ways to reskill or make a switch.
Finally, in my own career, I have been hired in times when the job market was in a downturn. Those with desired skills and talents, who represent the best in their field, will nearly always find a soft landing. It may take your job search a little longer—but the wisest companies are always looking for those pink unicorns who can add value to their positions and corporations.