July 4, 2023
Across the tech industry, the early months of 2023 have been particularly tumultuous ones, with a wave of layoffs hitting tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, and more recently, Meta and Accenture.
The good news for those tech engineers who’ve experienced a recent layoff is that the job market remains surprisingly strong, with many talented workers getting scooped up much more quickly than is common for other roles. And in some cases, workers are getting rehired at higher salaries than they were making at their former jobs.
But let’s not undersell how challenging it can be trying to come back after a layoff. Digging through and applying to the countless job openings out there can be dispiriting, and even when you do get an interview opportunity, sometimes it doesn’t go as well as hoped. Being a great tech engineer doesn’t necessarily equate to nailing questions in an interview.
The process of finding a new job may take longer for some skilled tech workers, but rest assured, plenty of opportunities exist. That’s because one group out there has a particular need for the tech talent currently flowing into the job market: small- and medium-sized companies. The last few years have been challenging for these businesses in terms of hiring, since tech giants have had the advantage of offering not just higher salaries, but unheard-of benefits packages that other companies often aren’t able to compete with.
But if a job isn’t fulfilling, all those nice perks may not matter as much. And that’s where smaller companies can set themselves apart. Compared with a tech giant, where a worker might be siloed into a very specific type of work as one of thousands of people in an engineering department, smaller tech companies provide opportunities for workers to learn new skills through exposure, take initiative on unique projects and work with all levels of leadership. Instead of helping to turn the wheel, so to speak, you have the opportunity to build the wheel.
Thanks to the shift toward remote work that took place during COVID, job seekers also have a new level of flexibility to pursue positions nationwide or even worldwide without having to relocate. When meeting prospective employers, candidates often don’t even ask “Are you remote?” anymore. It’s “You’re remote, right?”.
Unlike having a fancy coffee machine or a video game room in the office, hybrid working isn’t a perk as much as it’s a way to accommodate employees by letting them determine what working model they like best. Most people prefer hybrid or remote work for a simple reason: It provides a better work-life balance. Spending less of your day in an office or en route to one provides more time for life outside of work -- whatever that might look like.
Transitioning to a remote work setting has absolutely broken down the walls for people to find new and unique opportunities. But, despite this and other promising trends, not every skilled tech worker who’s been laid off is necessarily going to land that perfect new job right away.
Sometimes, a bit of old-fashioned legwork is still necessary. If you fall into that category, here are a few tips:
Make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile are up to date. The first thing most prospective employers will do is glance at your LinkedIn profile, so you can make it easy on them by giving them the essential facts they’re seeking about your skills and job history. Along the same lines, whether you’re actively applying for jobs or simply responding to a request from a recruiter, it’s always good if your updated resume is ready to share at a moment’s notice.
Share your status on LinkedIn. You want everyone you cross paths with online to know you’re in the job market, and LinkedIn makes it easy to do so in a couple of ways. First is its #OpentoWork feature, which lets you tell recruiters and your LinkedIn network you’re open to certain job opportunities using a button on your profile.
Another great tool LinkedIn offers is Active status, where you can signal that you’re currently active on the site using a small green dot that appears next to your profile picture. Turning on this feature also lets you see who else is currently active, which could provide an opening to message a recruiter and get a speedy response, for instance. However, you do it, make yourself known. Your future employer is out there looking for you, so make yourself easy to find.
Leverage your network of friends, acquaintances, and former colleagues. Sometimes the ideal job is closer than you realize and could come by way of somebody you already know. Reach out to people outside your normal circle of friends -- your “weak ties” -- and ask them to keep their eyes open for any jobs you might be a good fit for. According to a recent experiment co-directed by an MIT scholar and incorporating data from 20 million LinkedIn profiles, those weak ties actually have a higher likelihood of resulting in new employment, since those people’s social networks tend to overlap less with the job seekers.
Despite some additional layoffs likely to come, as well as wider uncertainty in the economy, there should continue to be active competition among small and medium-sized companies for talented tech workers. Workers who’ve been laid off and land in new positions that better match their talents might even agree that the short-term inconvenience of the job hunt was worth it in the end.
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