The number of IT layoffs in 2022 alone accounts for more than half of all terminations since Covid-19, according to layoffs.fyi, a tracking website.
“Tech companies of all shapes and sizes are reorganizing, carefully evaluating expenses, and ultimately, laying off employees,” said Erin Lau, director for service operations at Insperity, a human resources consulting firm.
This makes for a tight labor market that is “flooded with unemployed professionals and qualified candidates,” she added.
Other than intense competition, job seekers also face the challenge of acquiring “adaptive skills” to meet the needs of a rapidly changing tech industry, said Pooja Chhabria, LinkedIn’s career expert.
“Companies are constantly in disruption mode, so today’s requirements for a job could change tomorrow. Employers are therefore keen to recruit agile tech talent — they not only fulfil a specific need of today but have skills that are future-proof to respond to the needs of the future,” she added.
CNBC Make It spoke with career experts who have tips for laid off tech workers who are looking for new jobs in a challenging economy.
Skills are now “the new currency” at work and companies are adopting a skills-first hiring approach, said Chhabria.
“In the last year, 40% of hirers on LinkedIn explicitly used skills data to find talent, which is up 20% year-on-year,” she added.
“What is more telling is that these hirers are 60% more likely to find a successful hire due to this change in approach.”
To differentiate yourself from the competition out there, Chhabria suggested paying attention to “growing fields where investments are being made.”
“For example, we have seen large investments in artificial intelligence and machine learning, so skills like SQL, Python, and AWS are all top in-demand skills in software and IT with meaningful growth since 2015.”
Whether you are looking to update your skills or possibly make a career pivot, do not neglect your transferable skills, she added.
“Oftentimes to pivot into the job or industry you want, you don’t need to completely overhaul your skills and may already have the similar skills needed to switch up your career.”
Setting up job alerts can also help pinpoint learning opportunities, said Vicki Salemi, a career expert from Monster.com.
“Begin with the end in mind. Peruse job descriptions to look at the skills and requirements of jobs you’re pursuing to fill in the gaps,” she explained.
“If there’s a new certification, for instance, in tech that you don’t have but looks like you should and it’s a growing trend, then explore pursuing it.”
The good news is that there are still tech opportunities available in “countless industries,” said Salemi.
Chhabria added that there are currently more than 3.5 million open roles in Asia-Pacific in sectors not limited to tech, such as professional services, retail, health care and financial services.
“Understanding what skills you need to land a job in those industries is an important first step,” she said.
While there are jobs available, experts told CNBC Make It that time is of the essence.
“When I worked in corporate recruiting I typically saw a decrease in applications in December even though we were actively hiring,” said Salemi.
“Job seekers will have less competition when they apply considering the majority of people pause their search until January. Don’t wait.”
LinkedIn’s Chhabria agreed, saying that there are still “many companies” who are hiring now and being the first to apply will give applicants an extra edge.
“LinkedIn [data] shows you’re four times more likely to be hired for a position if you apply in the first 10 minutes, so set up job alerts to notify you as soon as a job that fits your criteria is posted, and apply as soon as possible,” she added.
Other than highlighting tech skills in your resume, soft skills like time management and customer service are crucial too.
“In this uncertain environment, employers are also placing greater emphasis on soft skills such as problem-solving, communication, and resilience. These are key skills that tech workers also need to demonstrate as we are working in a hybrid environment with teams spread across globally.”
Acknowledging that it is natural to feel anxious and lost after being laid off, Chhabria said that “proactively confronting” these feelings is the best way to address them.
“Being part of a community and seeking help by talking to others in a similar situation might also be helpful,” she added.
“Start by reaching out to your network … [that] can be the first step to opening the door to connections and conversations with your current contacts, who might be able to offer advice, support, or make introductions that can help you get hired.”
Chhabria stressed that workers should prioritize networking as professionals are “four times more likely” to get hired through their network.
“Be sure to engage and check in on your professional community on a regular basis to pave the way for mentorship opportunities, career advice and potential job opportunities … Be specific about the type of role you want, your experience level, and the value you bring to a team.”
(With Inputs from CNBC)
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