Concerns about an economic slowdown, fueled by factors including inflation and a declining stock market, are starting to be felt by individual tech job seekers as some companies start to put the brakes on their employment growth.
In some cases, companies are rescinding job offers after they’ve been signed, creating a difficult situation for people who had cancelled interviews or turned down competing offers from other companies.
However, recruiters and tech leaders say the impact is not yet widespread, and depends highly on the sector in which a company is operating and the types of positions it’s filling. Engineers, for example, remain in high demand.
High-tech real estate brokerage Redfin confirmed Friday that it has “made the difficult decision to freeze hiring and rescind a small number of job offers” in an effort to adapt quickly to “economic uncertainty and a rapidly cooling housing market caused by the fastest jump in interest rates in history.”
“We extend our sincerest apologies to the people who’ve been impacted,” the Seattle-based company said in a statement. “Changing our hiring plans in response to changing conditions is painful but necessary to keep the company on a path to continued growth.”
One recent U.C. Irvine informatics graduate wrote on LinkedIn that a job offer she signed in December with Redfin was rescinded this week, less than a month before she was to start work as a product designer in San Francisco.
Facebook parent company Meta, which employs more than 7,000 people in the Seattle region, also indicated Friday that it’s tentatively tapping the brakes on its growth companywide.
“We regularly re-evaluate our talent pipeline according to our business needs and in light of the expense guidance given for this earnings period, we are slowing its growth accordingly,” Tracy Clayton, a Meta spokesperson, in a statement. “However, we will continue to grow our workforce to ensure we focus on long term impact.”
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s widely cited memo last week was a flashpoint for the tech industry, adding to existing concerns by warning of a “seismic shift” in the markets, signaling tougher times and tighter belts ahead.
Some startup CEOs in attendance at the GeekWire Awards last week acknowledged reading his message closely. Some said their hiring plans would depend in part on their ability to raise funding in the months ahead.
Raising more cash, though, may prove to be difficult as venture capitalists ease their investing pace. “During economic downturns even the top tier VC funds with a lot of money slow down their deployment of capital,” Y Combinator wrote to portfolio founders this week.
At the same time, rapid inflation is causing some companies in strong financial positions to take steps to retain their best employees. Microsoft earlier this week announced salary and stock compensation changes focused heavily on retaining employees who might have otherwise been tempted to look elsewhere.
Particularly for engineers, the job market remains extremely competitive.
“Have some companies decided to scale back? Sure,” said Albert Squiers, managing director of the technology practice at Fuel Talent in Seattle. “However the recruiting industry was at breakneck speed and even with a minimal decline, engineers are still in demand more than ever. Between increasing compensation and the housing market, [it’s] hard to imagine it will slow down much over the next six months.”
After sending that message, Squiers followed up with fresh word of a company that had planned to make offers deciding to slow down hiring except for high priority and business critical systems, due to the changing market.
“However, for every company that closes a job another one seems to open up,” he added, “and I would still describe the engineering labor market in Seattle as ‘very tight’; as in it’s still 100% a candidate driven market.”
At the same time, he said, “Obviously things can change quickly though.”