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After Corporate Tech Layoffs, Can Governments Benefit?

Almost every day, online media sources proclaim new layoffs for tech workers. So how are federal, state and local governments trying to attract these talented pros now?

Will the current private-sector technology layoff pain become your government hiring gain?


Many federal, state and local governments are reaching out to attract laid-off tech workers, and they are being very vocal about it. If you are looking for work in a technology or cybersecurity field, this blog covers some of the ways that a government office near you (or perhaps across the country when/if remote work is allowed) is trying to get your attention.

I was in California this past week at the California Public Sector CIO Academy, and Liana Bailey-Crimmins, the California CIO and director of the Department of Technology, started her opening kickoff with a rousing call for state leaders to champion public service in this current environment. She emphasized the top priority of finding and maintaining talent in technology and security roles.

Given the current round of private-sector tech layoffs, Bailey-Crimmins also announced a new portal called “Work for California,” which can be found here.

As soon as you arrive at the new website, you are greeted with the question: Why work for California? The given answers include great benefits, job security and doing good.

The portal has the social media hashtag #work4ca, with upcoming job fairs announced at this online resource. The new approach offered by California is also making it easier to apply, with no cover letter or resume required. Candidates just put in a few details and a recruiter calls them.

Back at the end of January, CNET proclaimed, “For New Tech Jobs, Forget Amazon and Microsoft. Try the US Government Instead.” Here’s an excerpt: “The U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the government agency that manages civilian employees, is expanding efforts to attract tech industry talent to work in the federal workforce amid continuing layoffs at companies including Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Facebook parent Meta.

“OPM's initiatives include plans to issue new pay guidance to agencies, giving them flexibility to hire tech workers across the government at higher rates. The agency said those increased paychecks would likely be paid for in part by using funds from the 2021 infrastructure funding bill and 2022 CHIPS Act.”


This article from Vox describes a somewhat new trend of individuals announcing when they are newly unemployed on LinkedIn. Given the sheer number of tech layoffs, previous inhibitions seem to be gone, and there are daily updates and posts on all topics related to jobs, layoffs, new opportunities and more. Also, more personal notes are being sent to recruit tech talent based on social media profiles.

Several governments are using this new normal to recruit, with savvy managers taking the matter into their own hands and posting openings. Other examples include National Security Agency (NSA) job postings on LinkedIn.

Exactly how many layoffs have there been? The numbers are difficult to track precisely, as this Slate article points out well. Nevertheless, it is clear that the trend is changing the conversation around the problem of attracting and retaining talent. The battle seems to be heating up, despite recession fears.

Yes, several states are also trying to develop new avenues to “grow their own” tech and cyber pros.

Government Technology recently highlighted one such effort in South Dakota. “Dakota State University is partnering with the National Security Agency and investing heavily in recruiting, research and facilities in order to build a regional hub for cybersecurity studies and workforce development.”


Meanwhile, back in December, the Wall Street Journal proclaimed, “Laid Off Tech Workers Quickly Find New Jobs.” Here’s an excerpt:

“Most laid off tech workers are finding jobs shortly after beginning their search, a new survey shows, as employers continue to scoop up workers in a tight labor market.

“About 79 percent of workers recently hired after a tech-company layoff or termination landed their new job within three months of starting their search, according to a ZipRecruiter survey of new hires. That was just below the 83 percent share of all laid-off workers who were re-employed in the same time frame. …”

Earlier this month, CNBC declared, “Despite big layoffs, it’s still a great time to work in tech, experts say: ‘I’ve seen bad job markets…this is not it’.” The article elaborates:

“‘We’re seeing a lot of active hiring in the small to mid-cap tech companies all across the U.S.,’ Bert Bean, CEO of Insight Global, one of the largest IT staffing firms in the U.S., says. ‘These companies didn’t overhire as much as their larger competitors did throughout the pandemic when the tech sector experienced rapid growth, so they haven’t had to resort to hiring freezes or layoffs.’

“There has been an ‘overwhelming demand’ for software engineers, full-stack developers, data scientists, cloud architects and other similar, highly specialized roles at these companies, Bean adds.”

CNBC also highlighted how the federal government was trying to attract laid-off workers from Meta, Google and Twitter back in December.

This article also provides some helpful insights on where laid-off tech workers may be going.


These new efforts to attract and maintain talented workers have been going on within governments for years, and the challenge is not only in tech or security roles.

The Marshall Project recently did a deep dive on this topic with an article entitled, “It’s Not Just a Police Problem, Americans Are Opting Out of Government Jobs.” They write that “an analysis of two years of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau data shows a steady decline in both law enforcement and local government jobs during the pandemic. From March 2020 to August 2022, the number of government workers dropped by 5 percent, while the number of local law enforcement employees decreased by 4 percent, the most recent data shows. The Census Bureau’s government payroll survey shows similar trends.

“As recently as a few months ago in Tulsa, school districts were struggling to find bus drivers. Lawmakers statewide considered moving schools to a four-day week last October to combat a shortage of teachers.

“The city’s fire department only recently recovered from a deficit of more than 60 members of its squad of nearly 700. And fire department officials cross-trained a group of firefighters as paramedics in December to fix a lack of first responders. …”


No doubt, this topic of attracting and retaining tech and cyber talent will continue to evolve throughout this decade. The pendulum keeps swinging back and forth based on the economy and private-sector market conditions, and of course the pandemic raised new challenges for everyone.

Last year, I highlighted quiet quitting and new government workforce strategies for cybersecurity.

Moving forward, keeping and finding new talent continues to be top of mind for government CIOs and CISOs, and public-sector leaders realize that now is the time to break out of old molds and outdated ways of doing things. Perhaps now this is a chance to bring in experts and young workers who were not considering government opportunities one or two years ago.

What is your government doing to change the conversation on hiring tech and cyber talent?
Daniel J. Lohrmann is an internationally recognized cybersecurity leader, technologist, keynote speaker and author.