Tech is not as collegial. As before. Rocket ships are appearing in disarray, mission-driven startups don’t feel mission-oriented when responding to investor pressure, and rampant strike jobs are crumbling contracts, not sacred vows.
In the past few months, thousands of workers from Meta, Twitter, Stripe, Amazon, DoorDash and countless other companies who didn’t have the chance to become household names have returned to the job market. Industry experts warn that the labor market will not end this year, with layoffs, wage cuts and general ill health.
So where does the technological prowess come from?
The answer is complicated, and it’s too early to have accurate workforce data. VCs want to fund the newest tech mafia startups before banks do, top MBA programs are abandoning standardized test score requirements because they want laid-off workers to join, and tech companies looking to hire want you to know. it is.
In 2023, he spoke to the laid-off workers. At the request of the individuals named, pseudonyms have been used where names are included to protect current and future employment opportunities. The common thread between all the answers involved reframing how “safe” it is to work in tech, and perhaps what it takes to get back into the sector after being burned out.
“I’m taking back my control.”
Aaliyah was fired from her tech job in the spring. Just a month ago, she had a positive review with her boss and promised more stock options.
The dismissal came as a surprise. And like some of her colleagues who put their names in spreadsheets and jumped back into the job hunt, Aliyah took a few weeks to think. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay in tech, I wasn’t sure I wanted to work for anyone,” she says.
“I had to make a decision in terms of what I wanted my day-to-day life to look like financially; am I going to rush or do I want to take what falls in my lap?,” she said by phone.
Currently, Aaliyah works two full-time tech jobs — neither company knows — and does consulting on the side. As more people work multiple jobs to make ends meet, the potential for more full-time jobs in tech has increased with remote work and layoffs. In fact, over 39,000 people belong to the “Overworked” Discord community, which describes itself as “a community of professionals looking to work two remote jobs, earn extra income, and achieve financial freedom. Be free from office politics and layoffs.”
“I’m no longer putting myself in a position where I’m dependent on one income stream from one company,” Aliyah said. They do what they want, and I do what is mine.
It’s a hedge against the bias she says she’s faced as a black woman in tech.
“As a black woman, I sometimes feel like I’m overlooked and that no one thinks I can do more,” she said. “You might not think I can do that much, but I really do – and you never know what’s in my bank account.”
Some are looking at redundancy as their next step, while others are considering how their job title will evolve in this new environment.
Two-time second hire
Sam noticed an unusual pattern in his work. Two venture-backed startups are twice the second financing hire. And he was fired by both companies last year.
“I started my undergraduate degree 15 years ago and chose accounting and finance, so it was strange because I was told that the backbone of business is what they need to run a business,” says Sam. He turned to consultants in the space and said, “Typically their first reaction is that finance is not a function of these layoffs.” Although the technology worker says that “math is thought in technology”, the reality is a bit more complicated.
Although all other CEOs seem to be “seeking more formality” as the reason for company-wide layoffs, even a strong financial runway isn’t enough to keep people from hiring. In Sam’s case, after passing a funding round, he was first released with the S Series B software-as-a-service product, so he began looking for new ventures that promised more financial stability. Over time, he began interviewing a number of companies and chose the ed-tech marketplace, which promised a large cash position during a recent fundraising campaign. Then when that company laid him off, he learned that good books weren’t enough to ensure job stability.
Today, Sam is working the part-time job he set up when he started hearing rumors of a second round of offers and interviewing for full-time gigs. There’s a conflict between what he wants, which is a stable, secure job, and what he naturally envisions as someone who’s spent time working in small teams at mass startups.
“My dilemma now is, where I go through every process with a company that’s healthier than they are, they have a 401(K) match…. If the offer ever comes [those] Companies, can I bring myself around enough to be interested? It’s hard to know what to worry about.”
He is still upset about losing his job at an edtech company.
“Edtech is building a marketplace. And here I am, with the experience and skills and knowledge to help the company do that, I can’t see that either,” he said. “I felt it was a missed opportunity. That’s still what I love to fight for.”
“Not everyone can afford a year’s worth of runway.”
Shortly before being fired from an HR technology company, Mary was given an award recognizing her contributions to the team. The trophy was still engraved in her name when she got the call weeks later that her career had been terminated due to the macroeconomic climate.
To make matters worse, this is the second time the company has fired her. The first time, when Mary reflected, was in March 2020, “When the World Fell.”
“I didn’t feel like there was a lack of corporate responsibility or anything, it was just like everything went up in flames and we were very disappointed,” she said, “and then a few months later they called me back saying things weren’t so bad.” Because the job market was tough — and she didn’t feel any mismanagement — she rejoined, got a small raise, her equity was restored, and the job continued for the next two years until she was fired again this summer. .
Mary is back on the job hunt, this time at a venture-backed early-stage startup. Then she was fired a few weeks into the job. This time, it’s even more exciting — because this is her first job earning a six-figure salary since joining the tech world years ago.
“I only broke six figures for five weeks,” Mary said. “I was really excited to max out my 401(k) and now I’m wondering if I should put those extra two grand in cash.” Now, she plans to get five weeks’ pay, one month of Cobra health care insurance and sign up for Medicare.
“A year’s worth of runway is not something everyone is walking in their pockets,” Mary said. “When people have really high wages and have had high wages for most of their working lives – other people think they have personal savings to protect against that.”[…] But life is very precious.
Although Mary is burned out, she is not leaving the tech world because she is inspired by the “incredibly bright, talented and talented people who are trying to build something.” Next year, she plans to ask her network for help with the job hunt, adding that while Stripe and Twitter talent are being fired, no one will look at cold job applications.
She plans to be direct. “Is it a question of whether profitability is enough?” she said at one point during the interview. “When is it enough to keep your workforce — what math is going on here?”
But she also knew that eventually, what had happened to her in the last twelve months could happen again.
“You can ask all the right questions, you can do all the research, you can ask about burnout and runway and all those things — and even if you say all the right things, if something changes in the market, it’s very little power that you have as an individual,” she said. Other than, you know, save as much as you can for a rainy day.”