13 Signs You May Be Facing a Tech Layoff

Nearly 60,000 jobs have been cut since the beginning of 2024 at 245 tech companies, according to the tracking website Layoffs.fyi. How can you tell if your company will be the next to downsize? Should start job searching or work harder to prove your value?

“Right now, you want to be cautious. But you also have a good shot at keeping your job. So stay in it,” advises Allison Hemming, CEO of The Hired Guns, a recruiting company, adding that it’s important to stay focused on making an impact at the office.

[Read: Fired vs. Laid Off vs. Furloughed — What’s the Difference?]

Are Widespread Job Layoffs Coming in 2024?

Layoffs have already been widespread in the tech industry this year, with well-known companies such as Google and Microsoft reducing their workforces by the thousands. But it’s important to note that these layoffs are an outlier in an otherwise strong employment picture: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that the unemployment rate was 3.8% as of March 2024, one of the lowest points in decades.

The BLS also reports that the labor market has remained healthy so far in 2024. Led by robust hiring in health care, government and construction, U.S. employers added 303,000 jobs in March. Plus, with demand high for workers specializing in artificial intelligence and machine learning, many tech companies are still hiring amidst layoffs.

With inflation and other economic risks remaining, there’s no crystal ball to predict what’s in store for 2024.

[READ: How Much Will Salaries Increase in 2024?]

Tech Layoffs in 2024

In 2023, 226,000 workers were let go by tech companies amidst mass job cuts, according to layoffs.fyi data. This marked a nearly 40% increase from the 165,000 layoffs in 2022. Here are some of the biggest layoffs in U.S.-based tech companies since January 2024. Data comes from layoffs.fyi.

Company Number laid off Percent laid off Sector in the tech industry
Dell 6,000 5% Hardware
Cisco 4,250 5% Infrastructure
Xerox 3,000 15% Hardware
PayPal 2,500 9% Finance
Microsoft 1,900 N/A Other
Unity 1,800 25% Other
Wayfair 1,650 13% Retail
Expedia 1,500 8% Travel
Citrix 1,000 12% Infrastructure
Google 1,000 N/A Consumer
eBay 1,000 9% Retail
Block 1,000 10% Finance
Sony Interactive 900 8% Consumer
Vroom 800 90% Transportation
Salesforce 700 1% Sales
Electronic Arts 670 5% Consumer
Toast 550 10% Food
Riot Games 530 11% Consumer
Twitch 500 35% Consumer
Snap 500 10% Consumer
DocuSign 440 6% Sales
Amazon 400 N/A Retail
iRobot 350 31% Consumer
Bumble 350 30% Consumer
Vacasa 320 5% Travel

Who Usually Gets Laid Off First and When?

Newer employees are at risk of getting laid off in the early round of downsizing, as the “last in, first out” saying goes. In some cases, recruiters and higher earners are let go as well.

Upper management may also adjust the business plan, and layoffs will then reflect the company’s new priorities. There may be a greater focus on projects that generate revenue rather than nonessential projects. Those with redundant, outdated or surplus skill sets might be more likely to be laid off.

Layoffs can occur at any time, but as far as when tech layoffs most often occur, January and December are well-known for job losses as employers are reviewing their budgets during that time of year.

Here are some ways to find out if your company is preparing for layoffs.

[READ: 15 Jobs to Consider for a Career Change]

1. Employees Who Leave Don’t Get Replaced

Involuntary attrition means a company may decide to eliminate the position altogether after an employee leaves. This leads to a smaller, streamlined workforce. With more tech companies investing in artificial intelligence integration and task automation, some may permanently axe certain positions to invest more money in AI-related roles.

2. Hiring and Spending Freezes

Hiring and spending freezes help companies save money and reduce costs. For example, as the economy suffered in early 2022 due to rising inflation and interest rates, many tech companies froze spending and hiring to stay afloat, which eventually led to industrywide layoffs later that year.

3. New Projects Get Put Off for Later

This may mean budgets are shrinking for projects that aren’t needed or that do not directly translate into revenue. While the delay of new projects alone doesn’t definitively indicate imminent layoffs, it can be a red flag.

4. A Company Merger or Acquisition Is on the Way

While mergers or acquisitions result in two companies combining strengths and profitability, it may also lead to removing employees with duplicate skill sets. For example, Microsoft recently laid off 1,900 workers in the gaming division after acquiring video game maker Activision Blizzard.

5. Executives Are Exiting the Company

At higher levels, it’s easier to see the financial direction of a company. Executives may notice and leave before things collapse. Their departure often reflects a lack of confidence in the company’s ability to weather impending storms or execute turnaround strategies.

[Related:What Is a Toxic Work Environment — and How Can I Avoid It?]

6. There Have Been Previous Layoffs

If a company is laying off employees with some regularity, it may mean that things aren’t financially stable in the long term.

But also keep in mind that previous or current layoffs aren’t always a red flag. “It’s easy to get paralyzed. … A lot of times, I hear from clients right when layoffs get announced at their companies,” says Hemming. “Many companies will have layoffs and be hiring simultaneously.”

7. Company Restructuring

Company restructuring is a strategic adjustment to align a company’s resources with its evolving needs. In some cases, it’s a way for a company to look ahead and see if it can shed unnecessary job roles. For instance, the technology giant Cisco’s decision to lay off 5% of its global workforce in early 2024 was part of a restructuring to focus on high-growth areas such as AI and software.

8. Reduced Attention to Research and Development

Investing in research and development is crucial for the long-term growth of a tech company, especially since the tech industry is constantly evolving and transforming. Cutting costs in this area may indicate that nonessential roles are also going by the wayside.

9. Decreases in Company Performance

Tech companies may reduce their workforce in response to declining revenue and company performance. So, if the company you work for has not been doing well over long periods of time, it may need to cut jobs and rethink its business plan.

10. Outsourcing Labor

Outsourcing labor may be an effort to cut costs rather than focus on local employees. Restructuring and reorganizing are other ways for employers to shed in-house roles.

11. A WARN Act Is Circulated

A Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice is usually posted in a workplace in advance of permanent closures or large-scale layoffs. This is a sure sign that layoffs are coming. Employees who do not receive 60 days of written notice that there will be layoffs may seek damages and back pay from their employers, according to the Department of Labor.

WARN protects workers in companies with more than 100 employees, and employees also need to have worked at the company longer than six months.

12. An Emergency Meeting Has Been Scheduled

When an email or calendar invite suddenly arrives with a message about an urgent companywide meeting, this may mean that management is ready to communicate about major staff changes.

13. Outside Consultants Are Arriving

If a tech company is considering laying off employees, it may first hire consultants to review company performance and assess how operations may be restructured, including which employees are redundant.

[SEE: 20 Careers With the Most Job Security Right Now.]

How Do You Know if Your Job Is in Jeopardy?

Your manager suddenly becomes very involved. If a manager suddenly asks you to write your job description, the company may be considering firing you. This also goes for a boss who is usually a micromanager but suddenly becomes distant, advises Hemming. A boss who is unavailable to talk about the future of your role should raise concerns.

Your workload shrinks. If you’re losing assignments and there’s been no effort to fix the problem, that may be another sign that you’re not needed.

You’re left out of meetings. No longer being looped in on meetings, emails and other communications may be a sign that you are no longer considered an essential part of the team.

Advice for Weathering Layoffs

Understanding whether your company or industry is performing well can help take the pressure off before you make big career decisions that may not be necessary. Hemming advises setting up Google alerts to get regular notifications in your email inbox to help you understand how the tech industry is really doing.

If you stay on top of the news, you can respond to any changes early, which is a clear advantage, says Hemming: “You might be able to move before the rest of the pack does if you’re feeling concerned about your job.”

Remember, layoffs are not always a reflection of your skills or value but, more often, a business decision. So, if you’re impacted by tech job cuts, don’t take it personally. Instead, use the post-layoff period to revamp your skills, whether that’s learning a new programming language or getting better at public speaking. This way, you’ll be more than ready to seize new opportunities when they arise.

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13 Signs You May Be Facing a Tech Layoff originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 04/11/24: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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