It's a tale of two tech markets: Tens of thousands of workers are being laid off at the same time companies are making big investments in the future, where recession fears have not yet given way to a definite downturn, and where, despite it all, it's still a pretty great time to be a job seeker in tech.

Despite a boom in hiring during the pandemic, companies are scaling back on spending and looking for ways to deliver products without the costs associated with full-time hires. From Google to Microsoft to Amazon, the results of this effort can be seen in daily headlines about layoffs and hiring freezes.

To mitigate the impact of losing full-time employees, more companies are looking for cost efficiencies through offshoring or nearshoring, and using project-based or contract talent. These solutions can work, but they require shifts in culture and management.

At the same time, there's an acute talent shortage for in-demand tech skills — especially:

  • cloud development/engineering
  • e-commerce developers
  • full-stack/front-end developers
  • various roles throughout cybersecurity, database and business intelligence

As a way to mitigate this, companies are rapidly looking for tech vets with transferable skills who can be quickly reskilled, as well as recent grads who they can upskill via bootcamps. While many companies have started to shift their strategies, that only accounts for one part of the hiring equation. In tech, as in any other industry, it takes two to tango — and employers must ensure their offerings are enticing enough to be chosen by talent in return.

what it takes to compete in today's talent marketplace

We've gone from in-office amenities being key for attracting and retaining talent to remote work being a must in a short span of time. And while those factors remain relevant, many of today's job seekers are going back to basics. Pay is once again paramount for job seekers. Year-over-year salary increases of 15-20 percent show compensation is making a comeback.

Without compensation that aligns with the broader market, employers will have a hard time landing top talent, but they also may have trouble hanging on to those already in the workforce. Insufficient pay was the top reason job seekers cited in a Pew Research Poll when asked why they left their jobs — and that can have obvious downstream effects on productivity and culture.

Another must-have in today's market is a culture that prioritizes open communication and transparency, especially for companies that want to attract today's early-career tech talent. Most recently, we've witnessed the risks of failing to embody this ethos in the highly-publicized misfires regarding companies' return-to-work campaigns.

remote, hybrid or onsite: what we've learned so far

There's still no clear solution when it comes to remote versus hybrid versus fully onsite. There are pros and cons to each working model, and the best choice will vary between workplaces. While at least some sort of flexibility remains important to job seekers — more knowledge workers, for instance, preferred schedule flexibility (95%) to location flexibility (78%) — how companies communicate their rationale for choosing their particular working style seems to matter just as much.

In other words, if a company wants workers back in the office full-time, it needs to state clearly why they made this decision and how it benefits their workforce and the company at large. Many of the biggest return-to-work blunders failed to account for this principle: From late-night, one-sentence email commands, to tone-deaf announcements that ignored those who perform better at home, companies who faced the biggest blowbacks failed on this front.

At the end of the day, there's no clear "winner" in terms of working style. The only real winners, in fact, are the organizations that have found ways to attract and retain the best possible talent in a way that makes sense for their companies.

leading through change: challenges continue

Navigating the return to work is just the tip of the iceberg, and companies are still learning hard lessons about how to manage through uncertainty and periods of change.

Layoffs continue to surprise workers, which has obvious negative effects on morale and productivity. However, communicating that layoffs or furloughs may be coming in the near future can also be a distraction and impact morale. It's a delicate situation with no easy answers. However, whenever employers find themselves in doubt, erring on the side of communication is likely the way forward.

Six out of 10 employees, for instance, said companies could boost trust during layoffs by:

  • stepping up communication with those whose jobs were spared
  • offering robust severance packages
  • being more open about the reasons behind the cuts

Being warned ahead of time appears to be preferable, as workers often appreciate being helped to understand why these changes may happen — and if layoffs happen, they appreciate hearing how the decisions around those layoffs were made by leadership.

how tech talent can capitalize on today's labor market

To capture attention in the market, focus on your network. Build relationships with mentors and companies that have their finger on the pulse of the technology market.

Networking, while critical, is a long-term strategy that rarely leads to landing a job immediately. To find purposeful, lucrative work in the near term, don't rule out contract work. The benefits of contract work aren't limited to just greater pay in the near term. Contract roles can expose workers to new technologies, different ways of working and new cultures that can inform where they want to go in their careers, how they market themselves — and which new skills they pursue.

what to expect in tomorrow's tech talent landscape

So what can we expect for the tech talent market in the near term? In an industry defined by change, it can feel too much like tempting fate trying to pin it all down. But the closer you look, it's clear there are undeniable indicators that can serve as sturdy guideposts for employers going forward. Expect:

  • Decreased demand for full-time employees, and increased demand for temporary talent, contingent workers and project-based services.
  • Increased focus on skilling, and more reliance on boot camps and similar skilling initiatives.
  • Newfound value in partnership, working with firms with innovative initiatives and access to broad talent pools.

In an uncertain climate, shifting your talent strategy to prioritize these points will provide the most stability, and put your company in a position to attract, retain and develop the top talent it needs to thrive. 

about the author
Justin Priest
Justin Priest

Justin Priest

executive vice president of sales, randstad technologies

Justin Priest is an accomplished and results-driven executive with over 16 years of experience in sales and business development. He currently serves as the Executive Vice President of Sales for Randstad Technologies, a leading global digital technology and talent services company.

In this role, Justin is responsible for leading and managing the company's sales and business development efforts across the Midmarket segment, driving revenue growth, and building strategic partnerships with key clients.

Before his current role, Justin held several senior leadership roles in sales and business development at Randstad Technologies. He has a deep understanding of the technology and talent landscape and has successfully developed and executed go-to-market strategies across the U.S.