Richardson, a 40-year-old in Raleigh, N.C., had been working remotely for the past four months with a team she liked and was just finding her groove when she and about 11,000 of her colleagues lost their jobs.
“I just started yelling,” she said. – I had never been in that position before. … I started thinking, ‘Oh my God, what if I can’t find a job?'”
Richardson joins hundreds of thousands of tech workers who are in the same boat — unexpectedly out of a job and hunting for their next gig. Twitter, Meta, Stripe, Lyft and most recently Salesforce and Amazon are among some of the most notable companies that have cut their workforces.
While many laid-off tech workers are finding open positions, they say there are far fewer and they have to fight off larger numbers of top talent for new roles. The layoffs do not deter workers from the technology industry, several workers say. and they still see technology jobs as opportunities for professional growth and increased earnings. But the cuts make them look for roles that can provide more job security in the long term.
Data show that the outlook is not so bleak yet. Employers added about 223,000 jobs in December, and the unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday. Tech layoffs are not entirely a reflection of economic conditions, wrote Rand Ghayad, head of economics and global labor markets at LinkedIn in a recent blog post. They are partly a move to return to more normal employment.
Richardson posted on LinkedIn a month after being laid off to let her network know she was open to new opportunities. When she started applying for jobs in In December and January, she found herself competing with hundreds, if not thousands, in the industry for the same positions. (LinkedIn shows how many candidates have applied for the position at the top of job advertisements.)
“The competition is going to be tougher,” she said. “For the jobs I’ve applied for, I’ve had more rejections than I had in the past,” she said.
Hiring in the technology, information and media industries is at its lowest level since July 2020, according to LinkedIn member data. Still, almost 40 percent of LinkedIn members in the industry who jumped into jobs in November stayed in the industry. Others have gone into professional services, such as law or accountancy firms, or the financial services industry. The wait for tech workers to land their next gig may not be long, according to October data from ZipRecruiter. About 37 percent of the surveyed laid-off technology workers found a new job within one month, and 79 percent were hired within three months.
For Meagan Moakes, being laid off was unfortunately a familiar experience, but this instance may have come at the worst time as her husband was laid off two days before. Moakes, a 37-year-old Dallas resident, has been laid off four times in his career.
“By the fourth time, you’re kind of numb to it,” Moakes said. “We went from a two-income family to a one-income family to a no-income family within 48 hours.”
Moakes said her situation has been in stark contrast to her husband, who appears to be more in demand as a video game developer. But as someone who has worked in customer relations roles for tech companies large and small, she applies to jobs that often have between 350 and 3,600 other candidates, many from large tech companies, she said. As a result, she begins to doubt her own skills and achievements.
“I feel like I’m lost in a sea of numbers,” she said.
Vahan Terterian has applied for at least 150 positions since he lost his job in December, but only a handful have responded with interest. The 26-year-old Denver resident was most recently product manager at rental technology company Nomad, where he worked for seven months before the layoffs.
“I had a sinking feeling in my chest,” he recalls thinking about the upcoming layoffs.
After spending a few days recovering from the shock of losing his job, Terterian said he also began to realize how many people he’s up against for current openings — a much different reality than when he got his job in May.
“The market is flooded with quality talent,” he said. “So it seems slower than when I first got this job in May. It flourished [back then].”
Terterian said he asks hiring employers more specific questions about their financial stability, employment and prospects to avoid another layoff.
For 36-year-old Amber Adamson, the strategy is to strengthen her coding skills to make her more employable in technology. Adamson, a resident of Norristown, Pennsylvania, who has stepped down from his teaching role, started his first tech job as a junior email developer for veterinary company Covetrus in June, but was laid off in September.
She says there are many barriers for new players in the industry. Firstly, prerequisites often require many years of experience for entry-level positions, she says. Then there are hundreds of qualified candidates she is competing against. She sees more and more laid-off workers from Big Tech companies posting that they are available for hire.
“I hope to make myself more desirable to recruiters, so they will reach out to me,” she said. “You really have to be prepared to sell yourself because the market is saturated.”
Some workers find that the best route to a new job is through their professional network. Charell Star, a former head of brand media, social media and partnerships in Meta’s payments business who has worked in marketing for the past 20 years, was also part of Meta’s layoffs in November after working for the company for more than two years.
The Maplewood, NJ, resident was four months into her five-month maternity leave. It was the second layoff of her career.
Star said the best leads come through connections who either heard about her layoff or saw her LinkedIn post announcing it. She gets tips about jobs that haven’t been posted or roles that haven’t been created yet, and some of her employee contacts redirect recruiters to her. So although the redundancies may increase competition, they also create a sense of community, she says.
“There’s a camaraderie between us going through this together,” she said. “I advise people to start networking and reach out to old contacts … you never know where an opportunity will come from.”
Richardson, the former content designer at Meta, said she’s getting creative in her job search. With a background in fashion and interests in media, fashion, retail, entertainment and technology, she contacts her big dream jobs. How large? She said she has contacted the head of human resources at Parkwood Entertainment and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter’s company, and reached out to the Obama Foundation.
“My advice is to have a positive mindset and don’t be afraid to shoot,” she said.
Five quick tips for job seekers
- Include a summary: All professional profiles and resumes should have a summary at the very top that highlights a job seeker’s most marketable skills and gives employers a sense of their personality. This is even more important for candidates who may not have direct work experience for the position they are applying for.
- Use keywords: Professional profiles, especially those that are online, should have keywords sprinkled in to help the candidate get past the computer systems that may be reviewing their resume first. Experts say job seekers should research the most common attributes and skills needed for the job and include them, if applicable.
- Highlight achievements: Job seekers should refrain from relying on job descriptions to explain their previous experience. Instead, they should highlight their achievements with as much detail as possible.
- Connect with professionals online: The candidate’s professional network can often lead to the next job. Experts say that job seekers should contact people they know in the industries that interest them. But they should also ask for introductions to people their friends, family and colleagues may know, as well as message people they have no connection with at all.
- Post on social media: To increase their chances of getting hired, experts say job seekers would be wise to post on their personal social networks to let people know they’re looking for a job and provide details about what they hope to find.