Prescriptive layoffs show how coding jobs are no longer safe at tech companies

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If you’ve been lucky enough to have lost your job in the last 15 years, someone might have suggested – often unhelpfully – that you “learn to code”. It was an acronym for “do something actually useful that would have kept you from being laid off in the first place”.

This advice is starting to feel less welcome.

The latest round of layoffs at Facebook parent company Meta has taken its toll on its employees Primary technical roles Such as data scientists and software engineers – positions that were once thought to be flawless. This represents a stark turnaround for a company that, until recently, offered exorbitant salaries and Basically hoarding People in these highly sought after technical positions. And now, as part of the company’s “Year of Efficiency,” I’ve let some of them go. As Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “We’re in a different world.”

Nor is the beleaguered social media company alone.

Software engineers had the highest percentage of layoffs in 2023, relative to their employment, according to data requested by Vox from workforce data firm Revelio Labs. last yearWhen big tech layoffs first began, recruiters and customer success specialists faced the biggest impact. So far this year, nearly 20 percent of layoffs of 170,000 technology companies They were software engineers, although they made up roughly 14 percent of the employees at these companies.

“Early layoffs have been dominated by recruiters, who forego future hiring,” Rehan Ayas, chief economist at Revelio, told Vox. “While in 2023, we are seeing a shift towards more core and software engineering, which signals a change in focus on current business priorities.”

In other words, tech companies aren’t just cutting fat by firing the people who fill their vast ecosystem, which ranges from marketers to Massage therapists. They’re also, for the first time, making cuts to the people who build the products they’re best known for, who enjoyed a kind of revered status because, like the company’s founders, they were programmers. Software engineers are still important, but they don’t have the power they used to have

“Before, it was just a matter of ‘the more or the better, whatever it takes to hire the best talent,'” Daniel Keum, associate professor of management at Columbia Business School, said of tech companies. improve and provide them.

He added, “This is a completely different mentality. We haven’t seen this before.”

Tech companies have grown rapidly during the pandemic, when people were at home and their services were needed more than ever, but much of that demand has vanished. Meanwhile, tech companies that had greatly expanded their capital numbers at the time failed to come up with the next big thing, meaning they had no new sources of massive revenue to draw from and had to shift from growth mode to maintenance. Meanwhile, the economy isn’t as strong as it used to be, and Wall Street is telling tech companies that less is more. The emergence of artificial intelligence at work is also a contributing factor, as it allows programmers to be more productive, or perhaps it allows employers to do the same work as before but with fewer workers.

In addition, Keum said that it was Elon Musk who fired the shot 80 percent of his employees but still had a (sort of) functional product, he became a sort of inspiration for other tech executives, who see his drastic cuts as a way to make their more modest businesses look “morally and culturally acceptable”.

their position? “Thank you, Elon Musk, for showing us that this can be done. And thank you, Elon Musk, for taking the blame,” Keum said.

Of course, this may be short-term thinking. While they may save companies some money, ultimately layoffs can be bad for business, lowering morale and productivity and making it harder for companies to grow in the future, when the economy improves. That fact doesn’t seem to stop tech companies from joining the layoff bandwagon, whether it’s absolutely necessary or not.

But for software engineers and other tech workers, this doesn’t mean the end of the world. They are still in great demand, but their bargaining power and ability to demand perks and superior salaries have been silenced.

Last Monthly jobs report The technology industry association CompTIA found that although employment at technology companies (which includes all roles in those companies) fell slightly in March, employment in technical occupations across industry sectors increased by nearly 200,000 positions. So even if tech companies are laying off tech workers, other industries are picking them up. Unfortunately for software engineers and the like, this means that they may also have to follow the pay schemes specific to these industries. The average base wage for a software engineer in the United States is 90 thousand dollarsaccording to PayScale, but could be much higher in tech companies like FacebookThese workers also receive bonuses and stock options.

“If you were a tech person, before, you only thought of Silicon Valley and the Big Five,” Keum said. “Now, our graduates are thinking, well, maybe an industrial company. They’re diversifying away from traditional ‘technology’ jobs.”

“You have to look a little wider now,” he said.