Tech Layoffs Aside, Workers (and Skills) Remain in Demand

February 17, 2023 | Activate Learning | 6 min read

You've likely noticed posts on social media from some of the 60,000+ tech workers who've been laid off in just the past month (or 100,000+ in 2023 so far). Some felt blindsided or insulated from cuts — only to realize the sinking feeling of being let go.

Survey data from Skillsoft's annual IT Skills and Salary Report shows most tech professionals felt at least somewhat good (47%), or even extremely good (36%), about their job security in the fall. Seemingly, not many would've guessed big-tech companies letting thousands go amid concerns of an economic recession.

But a common theme found in the endless scroll has been an outpouring of encouragement, with people offering to make introductions, pass along resources or even lend their time to talk. (If you're in the market, search #Hiring on LinkedIn to see for yourself.)

While it's left many feeling like the rug has been pulled from beneath them, these difficult times also give way to new opportunities.

This wave of tech layoffs comes at a time when tech skills are in demand and the labor market remains trying for organizations across industries, many desperate for skilled talent.

"Every company is in some sense a technology company right now. And for coders, engineers and AI experts and data experts, these people can find a place in so many other industries," Carolina Milanesi, a consumer tech analyst for the research firm Creative Strategies, told NPR.

For those impacted by the tech layoffs, this may come as some semblance of good news. For employers, perhaps less so.

Atta Tarki, founder and chairman of staffing firm ECA Partners, put it this way: "Instead of having an abundant talent pool to recruit from, companies find themselves fighting over a tiny talent puddle."

In this way, workers impacted by these historic layoffs may find an organization that has an immediate need for their skills sooner rather than later.

Jobs in Cloud, Data Science and Cybersecurity Are the Hardest to Fill

IT leaders listed talent retention and recruitment as their leading challenges going into 2023, according to Skillsoft's annual report. The areas with the greatest need? Cloud computing, data science, cybersecurity, DevOps and application development.

These same IT leaders say they struggle to hire candidates with the skills they need or find it difficult to attract talent to their industries. In turn, these gaps in capability strain their departments by adding more stress to team members.

All this is to say that while many have felt the sting of these tech layoffs, there are organizations out there (right now!) eager to extend an offer letter to skilled workers. A win-win for many.

Read next:Can't Hire Enough Tech Workers? Johnson & Johnson Found a Solution

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Tech Workers Want Opportunities to Learn and Grow Their Careers

Most IT leaders (66%) say they struggle with skills gaps. While the lion's share of these leaders say they plan to train their existing staff to close gaps, almost 20% have plans to hire more team members.

Now that tens of thousands of highly skilled workers landed on the market, this may be the opportunity for some businesses to close their gaps.

However, this may also be a time to scrutinize their hiring requirements.

Millions of tech workers in the United States have been passed up by companies that require a college degree for employment, while dismissing the important tech skills that candidates have.

Resume-scanning bots and arbitrary hiring standards overlook candidates who don't meet requirements like these, keeping hard-working, qualified candidates out of tech roles. This so-called paper ceiling enables gaps and disparities in tech to grow, in spite of a great need for workers.

Recruiting teams must constantly find ways to promote equity in their hiring practices. Doing so will benefit their clients or organizations, while also giving someone the chance they need to break into a life-changing career.

Once organizations manage to recruit the talent they need, they must invest in employees' ongoing skills development, their careers and future. This investment in talent can lead to several benefits for not only the individual but the organization as a whole, including a greater competitive advantage. It also helps build a team's confidence and loyalty.

Consider this data from the IT Skills and Salary Report. Many IT professionals end up leaving their employer due to a lack of professional development opportunities.

Impacted by the Layoffs? Consider This Next…

Being laid off from a job can feeling dizzying at first. It's disruptive, scary, frustrating. Naturally, take the time you need to process the situation and work through the ramifications before taking on anything extra.

When you're ready to start sending out resumes or connecting with recruiters, consider taking the actions below to stand out in the job market.

Read also:4 Steps to Take After Being Laid Off [Codecademy]

Diversify Your Skillset

Adding new skills to your toolkit can open new opportunities, boost your confidence, and help attract recruiters. By taking the initiative to learn new skills, it demonstrates to potential employers your drive and commitment to furthering your career.

In between applying for jobs or interviewing, consider exploring courses on topics you've been interested in learning more about. Skillsoft offers a deep portfolio on a number of courses — many you can access for free — on topics ranging from cybersecurity and cloud computing to Agile or Python, Java and more.

Work Toward a New Certification (or Badge)

Much like adding new skills to your portfolio, certifications can help attract recruiters and potential employers. The highest percentage of IT leaders believe certified staff add $30,000+ in value to their organizations versus non-certified staff. They see certifications as a trustworthy sign of one's skillset and clearly value them.

If a certification is too much to take on right now, work toward a badge. Learners earn badges when they complete courses with Skillsoft. Like a certification, once you've successfully completed a course, usually after passing a test, you get a digital badge that serves as a mark of completion.

As you earn new certifications or badges, make sure to add them to your LinkedIn profile and brag about your progress.

Heads up: Skillsoft has dozens of free prep guides for popular certifications from Microsoft, AWS, Google and others. Find them here.

Build a Portfolio that Reflects Your Work

If you don't already have one, consider building a website to showcase your work. A portfolio like this helps demonstrate your capabilities to hiring managers. A website or portfolio is a great way to extend and complement your LinkedIn profile and share more about your experience.

Our friends at Codecademy offer 6 tips on what to include on your website to land a job in tech. Read them here.

Learn About More Trends in Tech

Read Skillsoft's annual IT Skills and Salary Report to learn how IT professionals rate their job satisfaction, key challenges, and compensation.