Talent in the Tech Downturn: Is there actually one?

It’s never been a more interesting time to work in tech, especially tech recruitment. So in this snappy 5-minute read, we are talking all about talent in the tech downturn and answer your pressing questions like “what is happening?” “what are you seeing in the market?” and “what does this mean for me?”

Quick introduction… my name is Carly Shearman and I am the Principal Consultant at Hunt & Co. If you want to put a face to the name, you can connect with me on LinkedIn! While I predominately work in the Technology and Product space, I also have the opportunity to dive into other areas of digital recruitment to help startups and scale-ups build their team. From Customer Ops, Digital Marketing, Sales to Leadership roles, I enjoy working directly with clients to build their high-impact teams. Why is this relevant? I spend my days chatting to companies and candidates on both ends of the talent experience getting great insight into what really is going on behind the scenes in the tech world. In this article, I am sharing some of the insights I’ve seen!

But first. Let’s get a lay of the land.

Over the last quarter, companies that we saw experience a meteoric rise during the last 24 months have recently had to make some tough calls. Here are just a few of the high-profile redundancies the Australian tech market has seen recently:

It can be rather alarming to open your LinkedIn newsfeed and see a new redundancy being announced weekly, but as people working in industry and with their finger firmly on the market pulse, I am telling you that the market movements are not quite what they seem.

Looking at the macro level…

The TL;DR (too long, didn’t read) version of this can be best summed up by this quote from Dan Brockwell, Co-Founder of Earlywork:

“For every employer you see mentioned [in the news for redundancies], there are a ton of tech companies and startups that have recently raised funding, are growing rapidly, and are still actively hiring.”

For those wanting the specifics, this is for you:

  • As I write this, there are over 6,246 open jobs on LinkedIn just for the keyword “Software Engineer” here in Australia. Similarly, there are 6,481 for “Product Manager” and 7,976 for “Digital Marketing”.
  • It is still a candidate short market. Yes, really! Finding skilled mid, senior and lead technical talent is still an ongoing challenge in Australia. All the things that drove the skills shortage originally are still an issue – specifically skilled migration, Australia’s tech boom and the rise of entirely remote workforces meaning we are competing on a global stage for Australian talent.
  • When a redundancy occurs, there is what industry calls a ‘feeding frenzy’ – this is where other organisations hungry for talent rush to meet with the people that have been made redundant. Experienced, technical candidates that have been made redundant aren’t staying available for long and are typically presented with multiple offers.
  • Agency recruitment is also a great litmus test of market health; not only can startups, scaleups and enterprises afford to hire at scale, they:
    • Do not have the capability or capacity to take on all their recruitment themselves and;
    • Are still experiencing the pinch of the talent shortage so finding talent is challenging and;
    • Require additional support from specialist agencies like us to serve as their talent acquisition team or act as an extension to their already existing TA teams.​
  • Companies are still getting funding. We can’t name names until it’s publicly announced but our clients have recently closed or are in the final stages of closing their Seed, Series As and Series Bs.

If you want to dive more into the tech layoffs and the state of the market, this article by Dan Brockwell is a great read!

Let’s talk about talent (and numbers)…

If we had to pinpoint just one frequently asked question, it’d be about salaries. Everyone wants to know what salaries are doing! After 18 months of strong growth, we are seeing salaries stabilising and holding steady at their current levels. If you are interested, we have our Digital Salary Guideclick here to download.

For the sake of simplifying it, we can see the market almost split into three groups:

  • Businesses are opting to ‘wait and see’ – they are holding off on making any non-critical business decisions until they can get a better read on the market. You may argue that this could come at a huge opportunity cost but it largely depends on their addressable market and industry as to whether it’s a worthwhile decision.
  • It’s business as usual. Their addressable market or industry has been largely unaffected or they have already secured their investment and now need to deliver. Either way, they are still running full steam ahead.
  • These businesses that would traditionally hire permanent full-time team members are opting to hire contractors. This rise in contractors is something we saw in 2020 when COVID hit and we are seeing it again. Contractors can offer a short-to-medium-term solution and reduce the need for any permanent decisions in an uncertain climate. If contracting is of interest to you, we have two handy resources for all your contracting questions. Click here if you are thinking about hiring contractors and click here if you are thinking of becoming a contractor.

Want to continue the discussion or maybe have a question? Whether you are looking to build your team, want to explore what a new role could look like or simply want more information about the market, we are here to help! Reach out to the Hunt & Co. team or send us an email at hi@huntandco.io.

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