The tsunami of layoffs in the United States’ tech industry has altered the job market once more. Whether the changes are for better or worse depends on who you’re asking, but the fact remains: the sands keep shifting, and all parties involved need to come to terms with the cards that have been dealt.
A lot’s been said about the state of the tech job market from the moment top industry players –Meta, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Spotify, Salesforce, etc.– began to offload workers by the tens of thousands. After a period of bonanza in the midst of what most businesses (and households) experienced as calamity, the pendulum swung back hard, dealing a wounding blow to employers and employees in big tech.
In order to have a more accurate picture of the tech job market several months into the waves of layoffs, NSAM contacted Jemima Garcia, Director of Talent Teams at Cloudsquare, a tech vendor which provides consultancy services and Salesforce solutions. During the conversation, Garcia charted the waters from the vantage point of a smaller tech vendor which navigates the Salesforce ecosystem.
The state of contract negotiations, the attitude of freshly laid-off talent, remote hiring and the qualities of offshore tech workers are some of the topics addressed by Garcia during our interview. It all comes together to portray a tech job market which feels more stable than in years past but which has yet to provide solid footing.
NSAM: With the recent layoffs in tech, how has the IT job market been affected?
Jemima Garcia: Our company hasn’t laid off anyone; we’re hiring, actually. What’s happening is that, although it is still hard to hire salesforce candidates who are highly technical, it’s a bit better because we have more choices. It’s not going to be as hard as last year, but it’s not going to be that easy either. The only thing is that we can negotiate more on salaries.
There were times when we could not keep up with the demands for salaries. Right now, in our ecosystem, there are a lot of people who were laid off. The market is now favorable to the employer, not the job searcher.
NSAM: Describe the difference between a contract negotiation last year, when the market was more employee-friendly, and now, when it is more employer friendly.
Jemima Garcia: It’s harder. Last year, it didn’t happen only with Salesforce, but with highly technical people too. You were competing with at least three offers. In negotiations, you had to provide a better base salary, better benefits. Salaries and benefits are the force behind employees leaving a company. Salary, benefits and, the third, remote work. At the time, employees could really demand to work 100% remote instead of a hybrid model. It was more competitive, more favorable for applicants.
Now I’m encountering candidates who are freshly laid off. Maybe there’s someone who has two offers, but a lot of times they are so happy to get a shot at having a job. That’s what’s been happening over the last two months.
NSAM: Candidates that just lost their jobs, they’re not as confident about the health of the job market?
Jemima Garcia: No. There might be some highly skilled workers who know they can get a job anytime, but most don’t have that confidence in the job market. Because of the layoffs, they’re competing with a lot of professionals. You have layoffs from Salesforce, Facebook, Microsoft. Those are highly qualified individuals, and you’re competing with them.
We have more choices now when looking at the personality, attitude and cultural fit of candidates. Last year, it was all about what the candidate wanted. So you gave in.
NSAM: From the perspective of Cloudsquare or a smaller tech company, do you prefer to hire former talent from a big tech firm such as Amazon, Microsoft or Meta?
Jemima Garcia: Not in our case. I don’t know about other companies. We prefer a cultural fit. When we hire, we look not only at skills, but also at a cultural fit. Sometimes, when an employee comes from a big company and transfers into a smaller company, the culture might be different, the work might be different, the structure might be different.
We have more choices now when looking at the personality, attitude and cultural fit of candidates. Last year, it was all about what the candidate wanted. So you gave in. Maybe they were not fit for our culture, but we needed that candidate. Now there are choices; you can see who’s interested in your company, in working for a smaller firm; willing to roll-up their sleeves.
NSAM: Let’s say you find a candidate that you’re very interested in, but you notice that the cultural differences might present a problem. How easy or how difficult is it for you, as a company, to readapt that culture and fit it to your own?
Jemima Garcia: I don’t really know. It’s a matter of personality, culture and mindset. It’s hard to change the personality, mindset and work ethic of someone. It has to come from within.
NSAM: So, for you, hiring is like a bet?
Jemima Garcia: Yes. For a smaller company like us, every hire counts. We’re not hiring you because you’re just a number. If we lay you off, we’re really going to be affected. When we hire you, we want someone that will leave a mark, who will contribute. We cannot afford to just hire and fire people.
NSAM: Are you hiring remotely or using a hybrid model?
Jemima Garcia: We’re in a 100% remote model, ever since COVID.
NSAM: Are you hiring remote talent onshore or also offshore?
Jemima Garcia: We’re hiring offshore too. We’re open to hiring people from Latin America, from Europe. We’re also hiring in Asia and Canada. It depends on the skills available. Of course, there are some skills that are not available outside the country [US].
NSAM: Which skills are available mainly in the US?
Jemima Garcia: We cater to financial companies, so there are processes that are only applicable to the US. And most of our clients are in the US.
Based on my interview experience, around 60% of candidates are not fluent in English.
NSAM: When you’re fishing for talent in Latin America, what are some of the major challenges from your side?
Jemima Garcia: They are lovely, they are great. There’s a lot of awesome talent. The only reason why we sometimes cannot hire them is that their English communication skills are not that fluid.
Most of our clients are native English speakers. If communication is not at a level in which the client will feel comfortable communicating with someone outside the US, that can be a challenge.
It’s not really a problem, but there are candidates who are highly technical people, and when I interview them, I tell them: ‘If you were only a bit more fluent or could understand more English…’ I really want to hire them, but they don’t meet the client’s requirements.
NSAM: Is that a common situation?
Jemima Garcia: Based on my interview experience, around 60% of candidates [in Latin America] are not fluent in English. Or if they are not fluent, there’s a strong accent that a native English speaker will not understand.
It depends on the requirements. For us, in the Salesforce ecosystem, you have to be very technical and, at the same time, you have to translate those technical requirements into simple business requirements. We need stricter standards, because we hire for client-interfacing roles. But if the job is more like being a developer, in which you can focus on the technical part, it doesn’t require such a strong grasp on the language.