The Scoop: Big Tech Freezing Up
More freezes across Big Tech and massive layoffs continue at formerly high-growth startups. How will this impact the rest of the industry?
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Just this week, Google, GitHub, Azure and LinkedIn put hiring freezes in place. Let’s get into the details. But first, an overview of the Big Tech hiring situation:
Google announced a hiring slowdown a week ago. Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent an email to all staff explaining this decision, which I reported on last week, highlighting that managers were worried about filling their headcount before the brakes came on:
“Managers at Google I talked with are worried about one thing: can they fill their existing, already allocated headcount, or will it be frozen or taken away?”
Indeed, managers I talked with were frantically trying to speed up interviews and send out offers to be accepted, before that headcount was taken away. Well, now the door has closed, and Google is putting a freeze in place. As reported by The Information:
“Google said it will pause hiring for two weeks, after saying last week it would slow its pace of hiring for the rest of the year.
In an email to employees viewed by The Information, Prabhakar Raghavan, a senior vice president at Google, said the hiring pause would not impact offers that had already been extended to applicants, but that Google would not make any new offers until the pause was over.”
It’s not too surprising that the company is hitting ‘pause’ to avoid precisely what I described: managers frantically trying to hire, before the headcount goes.
This freeze is more of an administrative step to get headcount in order, and stop ad-hoc hiring. Once the freeze is lifted, we’ll know more on which organizations still have headcount, and which don’t.
Microsoft has implemented a similarly aggressive hiring freeze across several organizations.
Azure has frozen all headcount, and new headcount can only be obtained with special approval from Executive Vice President, Scott Guthrie, an engineering manager working in the organization.
LinkedIn has a similar freeze in place, shared an engineering manager working there.
GitHub has notified the majority of software engineers in its hiring pipeline that it’s closing the positions they applied for. They sent out a variation of this email to most people (emphasis mine):
“Unfortunately, we are unable to proceed with your application at this time. This decision has been made in an effort to prioritize our hiring and be strategic about the roles we are continuing to hire for as GitHub grows the home for all developers. While we’ve closed this role, we’d like to stay in touch in the future.
We’re continuing to invest in our company, product, and people as well as being committed to building what’s needed for our community, including the importance of the entire developer ecosystem. Please keep an eye on GitHub’s Careers Page to stay informed about new opportunities, and be sure to bookmark the GitHub Blog and follow us on Twitter for the latest GitHub technology and company updates.
GitHub Talent Acquisition”
I talked with engineers at GitHub who tell me “generic” hiring is now gone, and hiring continues only for key positions and strategic ones. This is typical of how hiring freezes work, and is also the case for Twitter and Meta.
Speaking of Meta, the company still has a hiring freeze for all software engineers below E6 level. Machine learning and AI engineers are being hired at E5-and-above, and Production Engineering is also hiring.
A former Meta engineer published their thoughts on why production engineering is still hiring. The short of it is that this speciality is harder to hire for and therefore Meta is not shutting down this pipeline.
What does all of this mean for hiring managers and software engineers?
If you are a hiring manager, expect hiring to become a lot easier. The formerly well-funded startups and even Big Tech are playing defense. Those top-of-market offers are disappearing, which means more candidates for everyone else hiring in the market, and less competition on packages.
I know of several companies where CTOs are rubbing their hands, getting ready to play offense while everyone else is playing defense, and investing in their technology teams. Amazon and Booking.com are two such examples – and Adyen is also doing the same.
If you are an employee, it’s already harder to get top-of-market offers, and to get into Big Tech. Moving into VC-funded, high-growth startups is risky, unless those startups are profitable.
The job market has not dried up and there are many companies hiring aggressively, and I talk with hiring managers at companies of all kinds struggling to hire great people and I’m also seeing large interest in companies signing up for The Pragmatic Engineer Talent Collective and contacting standout candidates directly.
What is changing is the effort of landing a great job. It’s now more work, and more competition.
Read more about Apple slowing hiring, Meta’s engineering calibrations, internal controversy at Stripe, back to the office at Adyen and more in this week’s subscriber-only The Scoop issue.
The perfect storm causing an insane tech hiring market
In September 2021, I wrote an article that would be heavily referenced across the newsletter for months: The Perfect Storm Causing an Insane Tech Hiring Market.
This post summarized the heated tech market as the first among all publications, and six months before The New York Times covered the same topic in February 2022 - repeating several of the points this article made.
To date, this Pragmatic Engineer article is the most in-depth overview of the tech hiring market of 2021 for software engineers.
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