Tech giants report slower growth, but IT job market remains tight

A ‘tale of two job markets’: Tech earnings stumbled in Q3, but IT hiring remained strong.
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· 4 min read

If you only look at the headlines, you’d think the tech job market is in crisis. Alphabet, Amazon, Meta, and other giants are cutting jobs and freezing hiring as they report lower earnings.

“There’s no question we’re operating in an uncertain environment,” Philipp Schindler, Google SVP and chief business officer, told investors in October.

Indeed, earnings calls from the tech giants have been dire. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, reported a drop in growth from 41% last year to 6% this year. Meta saw share prices go into what looked briefly like a total free fall after audience numbers remained static and CEO Mark Zuckerberg reaffirmed his commitment to bug-infested VR platform Horizon Worlds. Amazon stocks fell 13% on weak earnings reports.

But the struggles of the tech behemoths belies the strength of the actual IT job market, ZipRecruiter chief economist Julia Pollak told IT Brew.

“In the headlines, we see tech companies saying that they’re instituting hiring freezes and pulling back,” Pollak said. “But it’s not showing up in the aggregate data on those industries at all.”

By the numbers. Put simply, even with the big-name companies floundering, there are still more positions than skilled workers, even if those positions aren’t necessarily in the prestigious tech companies where IT professionals might want to build their résumés.

According to ZipRecruiter data that Pollak shared with IT Brew, almost every IT position across the board is up since February 2020—the beginning of the pandemic and the sea change in how Americans work and live. The “digitization of everything,” as Pollak described the ongoing changes in day-to-day life, have led to a massive increase in tech jobs.

“Everything from your local library to your kids’ school is becoming more dependent on web-related services, email-based services, etcetera,” Pollak said. “This digitalization of the economy is a very broad, rapid, unstoppable trend and force, [which] was accelerated by the pandemic.”

According to ZipRecruiter, telecommunications job offerings are up 115% from two-and-a-half years ago, by far the highest increase. Gaming jobs are up 59%, data jobs come in at around 32%, project management and software are up 30% and 28%, respectively. Only web administration jobs have seen a decline, dropping 17%.

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On the ground. With the exception of Twitter, where layoffs were done seemingly without much strategy, most tech giants are cutting positions unrelated to IT and engineering, said Chicago-area technical recruiter Alexander Finch. Tech companies need to grow, and in order to do so, they need to retain the people putting together their product.

“If you’re an engineer, you’re still sitting really pretty,” Finch said. “I have had some friends laid off, who are software engineers, and their inboxes are still completely full.”

Finch told IT Brew that, broadly speaking, people entering the workforce with the skill sets needed to succeed in the IT sector are going to be in luck. They’ll just need to temper their expectations for what their jobs look like. Salaries won’t likely be as high and budgets internally may be restricted, meaning that opportunities for bonuses and raises may be harder to come by.

“If they were making $100,000, now the budget’s $75,000—these very direct cuts are being made,” Finch said. “Even if the jobs are there, there’s definitely a lot of belt-tightening going on right now, and I think at the entry level, it’s always gonna feel the hardest.”

Pollak agreed. She explained that while there are plenty of jobs, income expectations may need to be tempered to meet new realities.

“I think this pandemic has given us a tale of two job markets,” Pollak said.

Logan Egbert, an IT professional in Oregon, said he’s still seeing a lot of activity from recruiters and in-house talent scouts on LinkedIn. A lot of smaller companies are looking for help as the economy continues to digitize.

“It’s definitely still a very fruitful market,” Egbert said. “What I will say, though, is that if you’re looking for a job at a major company, let's say Adobe, or Microsoft, big companies, I definitely do not get the same sort of response if I’m proactively applying to those sorts of companies.”—EH

Top insights for IT pros

From cybersecurity and big data to software development and gaming, IT Brew delivers the latest news and analysis of trends shaping the IT industry, like only The Brew can.