The technology industry is filled with frowny faces right now. Stock and cryptocurrency prices are sinking and anxiety is up. It feels as though each day brings news of some tech company or start-up laying off workers or putting hiring on hold. It happened again on Tuesday when Coinbase, the crypto exchange, said it was cutting 18 percent of its work force.
The pain is real for people who lose their jobs, but behind it is this bigger picture: The job market at technology companies, and for people with high-tech skills, is on fire and staying that way — at least for now.
U.S. unemployment rates for high-tech jobs range from dinky to non-existent. As soon as one company announces layoffs or hiring freezes for people with those skills, ZipRecruiter sees other employers searching to find and recruit them, according to Julia Pollak, a labor economist with the career website. On average, each tech worker looking for a job is fielding more than two employment offers, the staffing firm Robert Half told me.
“When people say things are slowing, I ask, ‘On what data?’” said Ryan Sutton, a district president who is in charge of technology recruiting for Robert Half. “Everyone wants to say the stock market is down. Well, the stock market is not always an indicator of hiring.”
People who specialize in recruiting for tech jobs told me that hiring has slowed in some areas as the stock market has declined and fears about a looming recession have increased.
But they say that right now, the worst you can say about the tech job market is that it has shifted from insane to merely nuts. The market for tech talent, and for workers of all types at tech companies, is so hot that even job recruitment specialists are being relentlessly head-hunted. Just about every time that Georgena Frazier, a recruiter for the rent-to-own real estate start-up Divvy Homes, talked with potential new recruiter candidates this year, they tried to persuade Frazier to work for their company instead.
There are two big reasons the workers remain in demand. There’s a long-term trend of companies wanting to hire more tech workers, and the number of qualified candidates hasn’t kept pace. In addition, hiring at many technology companies is also still catching up from the first months of the pandemic when many companies froze hiring or laid off employees, only to have to hire staff members when their business didn’t fall apart. Susan Dominus, a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, captured the power of tech workers to hop from job to job, and demand and often receive the compensation and work conditions they wanted, in a wonderful article published in February.
“I was really struck by one tech recruiter who left nothing to chance,” Dominus told me. “Even if someone accepted the offer, she kept recruiting for the position, just in case that person bolted the second another better offer came on.” A handful of companies like Coinbase, Twitter and Redfin have revoked a small number of job offers from people who have accepted them. Tech hiring experts said that rescinded job offers are unusual when there isn’t a widespread crisis like a recession or a pandemic. Some companies, as Coinbase said on Tuesday, may have hired too many people too quickly last year when tech was booming.