A coaching client recently asked me: “What do you think of the 2024 high tech hiring? I am curious why FAANG and other big tech companies are not laying off 30%, they hired too many in the past 2-3 years, IMHO.”
Here is what I wrote back: tech hiring is going to be tight. The heydays of FANNG and tech hiring are gone. There are still a lot of fat in FAANG companies. I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon does another round of layoff in January 2024. Amazon’s “OP2” (mid-year planning) process ends around January and it typically makes strategic and headcount adjustments around this time. I think Google is still very fat, and it still has a country club culture that is hurting its growth. I’d expect another tech bubble in the horizon, but it’s unclear when exactly tech hiring boom will happen again.
I still think startups will be the bright spot for tech hiring. On the enterprise side, it has gone through several iterations in the past 30 years — Client/Server, Application Service Prover (ASP), Mobile, SaaS/Cloud. The next iteration will be AI enablement/empowerment, which will take time but it’ll eventually be here. The new applications needs to be built. On the consumer side, we’ve already seen a proliferation of AI powered apps, but most of them still have some distance to go before they can become the killer app. Early-stage startups (particularly the ones with recent funding rounds) have the money to hire and grow.
For folks who have been aiming for FAANG companies, you might want to consider a startup as a stepping stone. In the past I have strategically joined startups to give my career a boost, but I didn’t bet on hitting home runs with the startup. My strategy focused on three pillars:
1) pick the right startup to meet and work with great talents that I really respect. Even if the startup fails, the smart people will find their ways eventually. Bet on people.
2) pick the product/technology that is creating a lot of values for either consumers or enterprises. Startups move much faster. Your learning will serve you well if you decide to join a large company later.
3) Startups don’t pay as well as large companies so you should develop second source of income and/or side hustles.
You’re the CEO of your own career. The future of tech work is portfolio career, not to put all of your eggs into one basket. Act accordingly. Take control of your career.