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Laid Off Tech Workers Quickly Find New Jobs

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Laid Off Tech Workers Quickly Find New Jobs

Openings across the economy are down from highs but far exceed the number of unemployed Americans

By Sarah Chaney Cambon and Gwynn Guilford, WSJ

Updated Dec. 27, 2022 3:54 pm ET

Most laid off tech workers are finding jobs shortly after beginning their search, a new survey shows, as employers continue to scoop up workers in a tight labor market.

About 79% of workers recently hired after a tech-company layoff or termination landed their new job within three months of starting their search, according to a ZipRecruiter survey of new hires. That was just below the 83% share of all laid-off workers who were re-employed in the same time frame.

Nearly four in 10 previously laid off tech workers found jobs less than a month after they began searching, ZipRecruiter found in the survey.

“Despite the widespread layoffs, hiring freezes, and cost-cutting taking place in tech, many tech workers are finding reemployment remarkably quickly,” said Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter. “They’re still the most sought-after workers with the most in-demand skills.”

Job openings across the economy—at 10.3 million—are down from record highs but far exceed the number of unemployed Americans, providing opportunities for workers who lose their jobs and those who choose to seek another.

Workers previously employed in other industries, including entertainment and leisure, transportation and delivery, and manufacturing, also found new jobs quickly, the ZipRecruiter data showed.

The job market for tech workers is slowing as the broader economy falters under the pressure of Federal Reserve interest rate increases and high inflation. Layoffs and hiring freezes are occurring at startups and large tech companies such as Inc. and Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. that hired aggressively early on in the pandemic. The cuts are hitting workers in tech jobs—such as software engineers—and other corporate roles including recruiters.

Still, tech firms making cuts are outnumbered by those that are hiring.

A smaller share of tech workers is spending long periods searching for work after a layoff. About 5% of laid off tech workers who found jobs from April to October had spent more than six months hunting for work, down from 26% of those hired between August 2021 and February 2022, ZipRecruiter said.

Wen Huber, age 23, was laid off from a videographer job at a real estate tech startup in late July. Mr. Huber, who lives near Seattle, thought it would take awhile to land a new position, given he didn’t have a four-year-college degree and many other job seekers were flooding the tech job market.

“When I was applying, to be honest, I didn’t feel very confident because there was such an influx of competition with a lot of people also being laid off,” he said.

Mr. Huber had built up a savings buffer, allowing him to be more selective in his job hunt as he sought to pivot into social media. He documented his unemployment experience in a series of videos on LinkedIn. The videos helped him land an interview—and ultimately an offer—for a social media manager job at a software startup, Mr. Huber said. He started in September.

“I was surprised at how quickly I was able to secure an offer for a job,” he said.

Wen Huber landed a job offer for a social media manager position within one-and-a-half months of his layoff.


Short job searches in tech have become slightly less common as the labor market slows from earlier in the year. Among people who recently lost a job and worked in tech previously, 37% found a new position within one month of starting to look, according to ZipRecruiter. That compared with 50% in February’s survey.

“We’ve definitely seen a slowdown in hiring, but the reason why is that the job creation level was beyond record highs because of the slingshot effect of the pandemic,” said Ryan Sutton, district president at Robert Half, a global recruitment firm. “From August 2020 to May 2022, it wasn’t red-hot. It was lava-hot.”

Usually when mass layoffs hit, there is an influx of tech candidates contacting his company to help with their job search, Mr. Sutton said.

“We have not seen it yet—we haven’t seen more candidates coming to market,” he said. “Our recruiters are having to hunt and hustle just as much as they had to in the last couple of years.”

Client firms in tech also haven’t mentioned any plans to cut jobs, Mr. Sutton said.

About 74% of workers recently hired after losing or leaving a job at a tech company remained in the industry, according to ZipRecruiter. Others who previously worked at tech companies switched to firms in industries such as retail, financial services and healthcare in the six months ending in mid-October.

The recent headlines about tech layoffs don’t seem to match broader economic indicators, which show a strong job market and a historically low unemployment rate. WSJ’s Gunjan Banerji explains the disconnect. Illustration: Ali Larkin

Pinnacol Assurance, a 650-person workers’ compensation insurer, saw a 46% increase in job candidates from big tech companies including Meta, Microsoft and Twitter between September and mid-December, said Tim Johnson, the company’s chief human resources officer.

The influx of applicants has helped Pinnacol fill tech-related roles such as data scientist, machine-learning engineer and cloud architect in recent months. In mid-December, Pinnacol’s recruiting team made an offer to a job candidate from Google, Mr. Johnson said.

Ayanna Chapman, 42, started a systems-engineering job job at Pinnacol overseeing its computer systems in mid-November after she was laid off from another systems-engineer position this spring.

‘Our recruiters are having to hunt and hustle just as much as they had to in the last couple of years.’

— Ryan Sutton of global recruitment firm Robert Half

A generous severance package allowed her to take several months to freshen skills and study for certifications including in the Python programming language. When the Atlanta–area resident began looking for work in the second week of October, recruiters quickly reached out with interview opportunities, she said.

Ms. Chapman was keen on finding a job with stability and thought Pinnacol would fit. She received an offer from the Denver–based company about two weeks after beginning the interview process, much faster than previous experiences, she said.

“I literally cried tears of joy like, ‘Oh, my God, I got the job. I can’t believe it,’” Ms. Chapman said.

Employers broadly are responding to job candidates fast, likely for fear of losing them in a competitive market with a historically low jobless rate of 3.7%. Nine in 10 ZipRecruiter survey respondents said they heard back from a recruiter or hiring manager within a week of applying for a job.

ZipRecruiter’s most recent survey was drawn from 2,550 U.S. residents who had started a new job within the six months ending in mid-October. The data align with other job-market figures that signal the hot labor market is cooling.

Of the ZipRecruiter survey respondents who said they previously worked in tech, most of them likely worked for tech companies regardless of their occupation, Ms. Pollak said. In other words, a recruiter at Amazon would likely be classified as a tech-industry worker in the survey. But a data scientist at Home Depot would be a retail-industry worker.

Separate labor-market figures suggest employers across industries are still seeking to hire tech workers, though less so than earlier in the pandemic. Postings on job-site Indeed for tech occupations are still well above prepandemic levels, but have fallen steeply over the past year.

Software developer job ads on Indeed are down 34% from a year earlier, and ads for mathematics roles—which include data scientists—are 28% lower. Overall postings are down 7.7% from a year ago.

“With tech workers, it’s a much bigger pullback,” said Nick Bunker, an economist at Indeed Hiring Lab. “It’s still above prepandemic levels, but if the current trend keeps up, I don’t imagine that talking point will be true anymore at some point next year.”

The uncertain economic outlook is likely weighing on employers’ appetite for white-collar workers, since they tend to base hiring plans for higher-paid workers on the longer-term business outlook, said Mr. Bunker. By contrast, firms usually gear hiring for waiters, deliverers and other lower-paid jobs according to immediate business needs, he said.

Many companies with among the highest shares of new tech job postings on Indeed in late November were in industries such as consulting, financial services and aerospace.

“For tech jobs, it is still a relatively healthy economic climate and relatively healthy labor market,” said Scott Dobroski, Indeed career expert. “A lot of bright spots for tech workers currently lie outside of traditional tech companies.”

U.S. aerospace companies cut more than 100,000 workers during the pandemic, but have been hiring back at a fast clip and struggling for a year with staffing shortages that have crimped supply chains.

Raytheon Technologies Corp. CEO Greg Hayes said during the summer he was optimistic that layoffs among tech companies would start to ease his own hiring challenges. There are signs that is happening.

“We are starting to see an uptick in interest from the tech layoffs,” said Mike Dippold, chief financial officer of Leonardo DRS Inc., which is based Arlington, Va.

Mr. Dippold said the defense-sensor specialist, like many peers, still had more open positions than it would like, but the staffing situation was starting to improve.

Doug Cameron contributed to this article.

Write to Sarah Chaney Cambon at and Gwynn Guilford at

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