How Layoffs, Remote Work & AI Reshape The Hiring Process For Software Developers

March 19, 2024 in Uncategorized

Even Elon Musk said he does “not know what the hell is going on” with the global economy. 

Luckily, we have some ideas – let’s look at how past year’s layoffs, advancements in AI, and remote working have shaped the software development industry.

What Happened So Far in the Tech Industry?

We all know that 2022 and 2023 were not the best years for the tech industry -the economic downturn, inflation, and higher interest rates created a challenging financial environment for businesses, leading to cost-cutting measures. Overhiring during the pandemic, driven by the sudden surge in demand for tech services, also contributed to the need for layoffs as companies looked to streamline their operations.

Here are the numbers: Layoffs.fyi, which monitors job cuts in the technology sector, highlights a layoff surge last year. About 784 tech firms have laid off approximately 208,181 employees so far – a 26.6% increase from 2022’s 164,411 layoffs. Surprisingly, software engineers took the biggest hit, constituting nearly 20% of those layoffs, despite making up only about 14% of the workforce. Talk about a disproportionate impact!

From Accenture laying off 19,000 staff members to Amazon announcing plans for 9,000 more layoffs, it’s been a tough time for employees. Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, and Zoom Video Communications are also facing significant staff reductions. 

Even giants like Google, Microsoft, and Spotify have not been spared, announcing layoffs of thousands of employees. The list seems endless, with big-name companies from various sectors in tech, like Coinbase, Shopify, Lyft, Stripe, X, Asana, and Redfin, also experiencing workforce cuts.

Unfortunately, this situation hasn’t improved as it’s only been 2.5 months into 2024 and more than 50,000 positions have been slashed at over 200 tech companies!

Layoffs disrupt the workflows of remaining engineers as they may need to take on tasks beyond their usual roles or areas of expertise.  Small startups, usually hiring versatile engineers, may handle such changes more agilely than larger, established companies. In large firms, specialized engineers may have to adapt quickly to a high volume of diverse tasks, causing an increase in technical debt. 

When clearly defined roles become vacant, all employees may need to wear multiple hats and adjust to constant context-switching. The result? The sudden shift in responsibilities and the ensuing morale issues can create a challenging work environment. 

Remote Working – the New Norm for the Global Workforce

Remote working, already popular in tech and ‘digital-first’ businesses, gained wider acceptance during the pandemic, even among traditionally conservative firms. Even as far back as 2019, a poll conducted by IWG revealed that 83% of employees would let flexible work options influence their job decisions. 

Research conducted by MarketsandMarkets reveals a promising outlook for the remote workplace services market. The study projects a significant increase in market size, from USD 20.1 billion in 2022 to a substantial USD 58.5 billion by 2027. This anticipated growth indicates a resilient and thriving industry poised to withstand the challenges posed by the recent Big Tech layoffs. 

In the same line, a 2022 LinkedIn survey showed over half of 32,000 respondents would reject a job that didn’t allow remote work, while a study by Remote found that 76% of workers desire such flexibility.

So, here’s the main prediction – remote work is not just a passing trend. Turing’s 2023 poll shows that 86% of software developers currently adopt some form of remote working. This setup will likely become a fixture in the tech industry’s future operations.

Remote work is not just about sending employees home with laptops – it’s much more! 

Companies need to invest in the right tools and infrastructure to make this work seamlessly. From virtual collaboration platforms to cutting-edge communication tech, it’s time to level up and create a workspace that empowers employees to thrive, whether at home, in the office, or somewhere in between!

Artificial Intelligence – the New Frontier for Software Developers?

As AI reshapes software development methods, the demand for professionals specializing in machine learning and data science has surged. Searches on Indeed for terms such as “AI” or “machine learning” have seen an increase of 182%.

From predictive maintenance and fraud detection to self-driving vehicles, AI introduces new use cases in software development. In other words, software developers have a lot to catch up with. 

It’s not all doom and gloom… In fact, AI helps software developers design project roadmaps, streamlining client presentations. AI-backed project management systems facilitate real-time project tracking, enabling swift identification and resolution of issues. 

McKinsey concludes that generative AI can enable software developers to accomplish coding tasks at a speed up to double the usual rate. Besides, tools like ChatGPT and GitHub’s Copilot make coding more accessible to novices by offering real-time feedback and code optimization suggestions.

AI’s Impact on Software Development Careers

Even though this is self-explanatory, we must clearly address this – AI advancements are transforming software development, prompting necessary updates in job skills and knowledge in this field. 

Automation is already eliminating some roles, such as manual testers, but it’s also creating demand for upskilling and new roles like AI engineers, data scientists, and ML experts. 

And this is available for everyone, from juniors to managers and other seniors who need to understand AI’s impact on their roles and the industry overall to stay relevant and competitive. In short, these are the most pertinent developments:

  • Intelligent Coding Assistants – AI accelerates code creation and optimization while minimizing manual coding and increasing demand for developers familiar with their integration.
  • Smart Prototyping – AI algorithms generate functional software application prototypes based on developer inputs, expediting the prototyping process.
  • Error Management – AI tools identify, diagnose, and suggest resolutions for software errors, increasing efficiency and allowing developers to concentrate on more complex tasks.

What’s Next for Hiring & Recruitment in Software Development?

Staying updated on market trends and the latest software development technologies helps HR departments identify ideal software engineers and enhances recruitment efficiency. 

More than ever, employer branding is in the spotlight, with job seekers evaluating potential employers based on values, culture, and social responsibility. Remote work, now a permanent trend, necessitates assessing candidates’ ability to thrive in a remote environment. Also, there is a pressing need to watch out for employee well-being, as burnout is very common among software developers, with 50% citing heavy workloads and 28% lack of support, communication and resources to do their job (Robert Half, 2023). Plus, the gig economy remains relevant, requiring talent acquisition strategies to adapt to effectively engage with freelancers and gig workers. 

Aiming to balance these dynamics, data-driven decision-making is paramount, as companies deploy data to optimize hiring strategies and predict employee turnover. Talent pools and continuous engagement represent talent hotspots, as organizations can partner with potential hires even before they officially join the team. Keep in mind as well that interview formats are evolving, embracing innovative methods like video interviews and gamified assessments. Talent analytics, which predicts candidates’ success based on skills and behaviors, holds the potential to create highly productive and satisfied workforces. HR tech tools offer insights into employee engagement, hiring trends, and predictive analytics. 

In line with estimates from Market Research Future, the AI recruitment market is expected to reach 590.5 million by the end of 2023, 

These are of the most significant developments in AI will drive up the hiring and recruitment process:

  • Candidate Sourcing – Automated tools speed up candidate search on job boards, databases, and social media, connecting recruiters with relevant talents faster.
  • Candidate Screening – Screening tools extract vital applicant information, efficiently identifying the best candidates among a large pool.
  • Talent Assessment – Advanced assessment tools use gamification and skill testing to analyze candidate competency and personality traits.
  • Candidate Interviews – AI-enabled interview platforms streamline the process, conducting pre-screening interviews through video calls and text-based interactions.
  • Offer and Onboarding – HR teams leverage AI-based tools for personalized onboarding experiences for new hires, ensuring a smooth transition.

Stack Overflow concluded that JavaScript continues to dominate as the most widely used programming language, capturing the preference of more than 65% of respondents. Rust retains its title as the most beloved programming language, with an overwhelming 86.73% approval rating.

Why You Should Care as a Hiring Manager: 

As a hiring manager, it’s important to stay on top of the changing dynamics in the tech industry in order to better adapt and attract top talent. Recognizing the demand for remote work, the impact of AI in hiring, and how the market fluctuates will help in making informed and strategic hiring decisions in a competitive space.

Check out our next blog post in the Hiring in Tech series on Precision Strategies for Sourcing Software Developers here.