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It's a precarious moment for the technology industry. Here's what job candidates need to know.

  • At a shaky moment for the tech industry, the landscape for workers appears a bit more precarious.
  • But career experts, economists, and executives agree that tech talent should stay calm.
  • The sector is fluctuating, but that's expected in the post-pandemic economy, they told Insider.
  • The past decade has been boom times for technology companies and interested job seekers.

    Tech giants like Google, Apple, and Meta (formerly known as Facebook) saw record-breaking profits and growth, and there were frothy, eye-popping valuations for startups. In turn, employees have enjoyed fat compensation packages, complete with generous bonuses and equity offerings.

    But today, at a shaky moment for the industry, the employment landscape may appear a little more precarious.

    This week, Netflix said it was laying off about 150 employees because of a drop in customers. The week before, Meta announced a hiring freeze that "will affect almost every team in the company." And a leaked email from last month showed that Amazon planned to lower its hiring goals for its retail department. 

    Additional rounds of layoffs are expected.

    Yet tech-recruitment experts say the situation for tech job seekers may not be as bad as it seems. Even during a slowdown, companies of all sizes continue to need tech workers to ensure their products run smoothly — and there are often exceptions for certain roles even during hiring freezes. What's more, some headhunters predict that this period of flux paves the way for startups and other lower-profile and nontech companies to poach talent they previously could not attract or afford.

    "This presents an opportunity for smaller companies — absolutely," Rob Barnett, a headhunter in New York City who sources candidates for media and technology companies, said.

    The same goes for job seekers, he added: "A lot of candidates I work with who've experienced negative environments at large companies are excited and intrigued by the idea of getting into a place where they're able to have more of an impact, get things done quicker, and where they won't spend all their time in meetings."

    Barnett and other experts agreed that even as some major tech companies pulled back, candidates still had solid options — provided they're realistic about their prospects, know where to look, and are smart about how they position themselves in the job market. 

    What the landscape looks like now

    Despite a barrage of bleak headlines, the US labor market remains tight. The most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated many people were still leaving their jobs and confident they would find new — and better — ones. Last month's figures showed 11.5 million job openings and 4.5 million quits in March, the highest levels since the data started being collected in December 2000. 

    In other words, it's still largely a job seeker's market — even in the tech industry, experts say, where the unemployment rate is 1.3%.

    "It's been very difficult for companies and recruiters over the past six to 12 months," Barnett said. "Right now, for instance, I am trying to fill a senior UX designer role — a popular job that a lot of companies have — and it's been surprisingly hard."

    Software-development job postings are up 125% from pre-pandemic figures, according to Indeed, a job-search site. In the San Francisco metro area, a technology hub, job postings are 36.1% above pre-pandemic levels.

    "In terms of where we are going over the next few months, I would say there's really nothing that indicates to me that suddenly there's going to be disaster or anything like that," AnnElizabeth Konkel, an Indeed Hiring Lab economist, said.

    Yet there's no question that economic red flags — high inflation, a slumping stock market, and continued supply-chain snarls — loom in the background. As of Tuesday, Meta's stock had tumbled more than 40% since mid-November, while Amazon, Google, and Netflix have respectively fallen 37%, 22%, and 71% in that same timeframe.

    "If you have a meteoric rise, it's likely that you'll have an aggressive fall, too," Sheridan Orr, the chief marketing officer at the tech online community Built In, said.

    She acknowledged the recent layoffs but said the workers did not experience sustained unemployment, highlighting how the shift was more a redistribution of workers.

    "Today there's really two openings for every tech professional in the United States — there's a lot of flex in the market, so to speak," she said.

    Andrew Flowers, the lead labor economist at Appcast, a software company that helps companies with their recruiting, said his "sense is that these factors hurt tech companies but not tech workers."

    After all, software engineers don't just work at Google. Retailers, government agencies, and other nontech companies also require tech talent.

    "The outlook for tech occupations is much stronger than the outlook for the tech industry," he said.

    What it all means for tech workers  

    If you're a tech worker wondering what all this means for you, experts have two words: Don't panic. Konkel, the economist, said that it's essential to remember these layoff announcements and hiring freezes were not indicative of what was happening across the tech sector. 

    "I think people, when they heard these announcements, were very concerned: Is there some tidal wave coming?" Konkel said. But in reality, "it looks more like a ripple," she said.

    Even if the market is a little more challenging, the vast majority of tech workers have plenty of good options, according to Will Rippetoe, a technology-industry career coach in San Diego. "If you are an attractive candidate, and if you have desirable skills, leverage still exists," he said.

    First, Rippetoe recommends making yourself " recession -proof" by learning skills and gaining certifications. Artificial-intelligence, cybersecurity, and cloud-computing skills are the top in-demand skills in the tech industry, according to a September analysis by Indeed.

    "It really is critical to ensure that you're putting yourself in the best possible position to get offers for the opportunities that exist," he said. 

    Next, think broadly about your target companies. Consider startups, medium-size enterprises, and smaller companies. Look into jobs at other industries, too. There is a world of opportunity beyond Meta, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Alphabet, Barnett, the headhunter, said.

    Besides, he said, the hiring processes at those companies are notoriously long and arduous.

    "Every open job has thousands of résumés. You need to be interviewed by eight or nine people and take all these tests, and then people have to vote on you," he said. "The odds of getting hired are long, but if you're lucky enough to have it happen — congrats, you're one of countless geniuses, and you're going to spend a lot of your time in meetings."

    If you do crave the experience of a larger company, Thomas Vick, a regional director at the human-resources consulting firm Robert Half, said plenty of big firms were seeing an influx of hiring and simply continuing with their normal hiring practices. He called companies like Meta and Amazon "not always a direct reflection of the entire market." 

    Instead, Vick emphasized an outsize need for information-technology professionals because of an increased interest in cybersecurity, cloud migration, digitalization, and more as companies across industries look toward becoming more technologically savvy.

    "While the entire organization may or may not be impacted, what we do continue to see is more and more organizations — even those large tech companies — continuing to invest dollars when it comes to their IT-related positions," Vick added.

    Finally, it's important to be open-minded when it comes to compensation and equity, said Lauren Maillian, the CEO of Digital Undivided, which elevates financial growth for Black and Latina women entrepreneurs.

    Salaries may be less negotiable at smaller organizations, but stock is often flexible. Keep in mind, she added, equity grants and options allotted during a market dip may ultimately turn out to be quite valuable. 

    "If you change your mindset a little bit on this if you're someone looking for a job at a place that's going to grant stock," she said, "it's like, 'Wow, this is a great time to go get the stock when it's low and then hold on for a year or two or three and trust that everything goes in a cycle.'"

    Source: It's a precarious moment for the technology industry. Here's what job candidates need to know.

    Biden focuses on technology gaps and security during his first trip to Asia as president

    Judy Woodruff:

    For more on Biden's first trip to Asia as president, we get two perspectives.

    Frank Jannuzi is president of the Mansfield Foundation, which seeks to promote U.S. relations with Asia. He also worked at the State Department and as a staffer for then-Senator Joe Biden. And Bonnie Glaser is the director of the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

    Hello to both of you. Welcome back to the program.

    Frank Jannuzi, let me start with you.

    At this moment — what is it about this moment that you believe has led President Biden to go to Asia?

    Frank Jannuzi, President and CEO, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation: Thanks for the question, Judy.

    Deep in Biden's DNA about U.S.-Asia relations are the words of Mike Mansfield, who taught Biden that the most important bilateral relationship in the world for the United States, bar none, was the U.S.-Japan alliance.

    So, I think, at the core, you have Biden attempting to reassure allies in South Korea, Japan and across the Indo-Pacific that the U.S.' credible nuclear deterrence remains strong in the face of North Korea's continued nuclear testing and missile development, that the U.S. commitment to Asia will not be in any way diminished by the conflict under way in Europe, where the U.S. and NATO allies are responding to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

    So, security leads here. And Biden's Asia DNA, if you will, inherited from Mansfield, has brought him to this region before traveling even to Kyiv.

    Source: Biden focuses on technology gaps and security during his first trip to Asia as president

    How technology is keeping affordable strawberries on your table

    PRUNEDALE, Calif. – Tom AmRhein breaths a sigh of relief when he looks over his fields, lush with strawberries during the National Strawberry Month. The recent drought has made this moment an uphill battle.

    “So in California, we’re under generally some pretty severe drought,” said AmRhein. “We’re always aware of that the water situation. And the cost of the water, even in a non-drought situation is increasing so much.”

    And any rise in his costs will end up coming out of our pockets when we put the nutritious fruit on the kitchen table. Up to 90 percent of strawberries come from California, so they are tough to avoid if the strawberry is a staple on your family’s kitchen table.

    The recent Drought Monitor shows 95 percent of the Golden State in severe drought and almost 60 percent in extreme drought. 

    Monterey County, home to AmRhein’s farm, experienced its second-driest January to April on record and is 10.74 inches in the red for rainfall. Even so, he says his area has been luckier than most.

    “We’re in a particularly blessed area,” he said. “We have groundwater. We got rain. And so for now in this place at this time, we’re in pretty solid shape.”

    Scare water forced him to go high-tech in recent years to allow the farm to be in solid shape under these rain stats.

    Hector Gutierrez, a strawberry farmer in the Camarillo area, has his crop bounced back from the rain healthier than ever.Monterey County experienced its second-driest January to April on record.Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

    “We have to have some very advanced irrigation technology which has changed greatly since I started farming back 40 years ago. It’s all drip irrigation now,” said AmRhein of his very technical solution to saving a crop that is still hand-picked after generations. “It’s the application of the latest technology to increase irrigation efficiency.”

    Drip irrigation actually “drips” directly over the root ball instead of spraying water into the air. Much of water from sprinklers evaporates before hitting the ground. Water drops also land in a larger pattern on leaves and dirt in the alleys between rows where the precious resource evaporates before it can nourish the crop.

    He placed plastic mulch over the beds which prevents direct evaporation from the soil. The blanket also absorbs the sun’s energy which warms the top layers of soil and keeps pests under control. The insulated soil stays warm at night which enables young plants to establish quickly.

    mes via Getty Images writer Hector Becerra picks boxes of strawberries alongside workers in a Santa Maria, California field on April 2, 2013. Becerra writes a first person story about picking strawberry crops and why there's an american shortage of workers willing to do this type of work.Advanced irrigation technology is keeping the strawberry crops robust, Tom AmRhein told FOX Weather.Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

    “It also the selection of varieties,” he said of his high-tech choice of strawberry species to plant. “We’re always working on advanced breeding of new and more efficient varieties to make the most of the resources that we have.” 

    Scientists cross different varieties of the berry to create plants with characteristics that thrive in the local climate and soil. The result can be a high-producing plant that is drought and pest resistant.  

    And he said being smarter about water not only allows his crop and bottom line to succeed, but his whole community.

    Woman carrying crate with strawberries. Picking seasonal fruit on an organic farm. Woman holding freshly picked strawberries in the crate.Ninety-five percent of California is in severe drought, according to Drought Monitor. Getty Images/iStockphoto

    “The industry tends to stabilize the community because the families do stay with it for generations and generations,” he said in a California Strawberry Commission interview. “It’s a big business. But, there’s the stewardship of the land, the care of the people. Because, without the people, there is no food and without the stewardship of the land, generation after generation, there is no future for me or for my family because this is what we do.”

    After 40 years, a man still works with him. The employee started with AmRhein when was just a grad out of college who dreamed of owning a farm. The first five acres grew into a family legacy. His wife is a fourth-generation strawberry farmer.

    “My mother-in-law,  she was in the internment camps in World War Two. And the family went through the internment and came back out and went back into the strawberry business and built it back up,” he said. “That leads to an appreciation for the history…  the history of the land, the history of the business we represent, the work that the previous generations did that got us to where we are today. And we don’t forget that. We have to live up to the standard that was set.”

    AmRhein smiled and said, “it’s looking like it’s going to be a nice year for us here.”

    “This is the peak time. We have a wonderful crop. We’ve got wonderful crew of people. It’s a team effort,” he added. “There’s thousands of people working in this industry that pick these berries and pack them for the market. And we’re working hard to do that.”

    Source: How technology is keeping affordable strawberries on your table

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