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Boom or Bust? Deciphering Mixed Messages on the Tech Job Market

Why so many layoffs? Are technology jobs plentiful or lacking? With unemployment relatively low, why are many cyber pros and tech experts struggling to get an interview?

digital illustration of people in business suits separated into cubes on a wall
Adobe Stock/Feodora
Is it the best of times or the worst of times for tech and cybersecurity job seekers?

The answer depends on who you speak with and/or what media coverage you are following.

First, consider these headlines and stories from the first half of 2024:

Geekwire.comTech job market remains in flux as layoffs continue and experienced workers struggle to get hired:
“After she was laid off in September, Jenny Richards didn’t expect to spend more than six months trying to find her next job. She had worked in product management roles at Seattle tech companies like Expedia, Tableau, Microsoft and Accenture. Her most recent gig was at a startup developing recruiting software, so she knew the intricacies of tech hiring.

"But after applying to hundreds of jobs, many with internal referrals, nothing stuck. She was on the verge of losing unemployment benefits. Finally, she made it to the final round of an interview process — but then was abandoned, with no explanation.

“'I couldn’t get a job,' Richards said. 'I couldn’t get anybody to call. Nothing.'”

CNNThe college job market offers a warning sign to the US labor market:
“It’s almost laughable at this point when Bryn Savidge gets a job rejection email.

“'It’s like they’re all using the same AI algorithm to say, ‘Write this person a rejection letter,’ said Savidge, who graduated from Kenyon College, a small liberal arts college 50 miles from Columbus, Ohio, with a major in environmental science. A classic refrain is 'We can tell you really want to change the world, but we’ve gone for more qualified candidates,' she said. 'They always add an environmental quip.'"

TechopediaTech Layoffs Predictions 2024: When Will the Job Cuts End?:
  • “The layoffs at tech companies continue: Tesla, Amazon, Microsoft, Meta, Apple, Cisco, SAP, and Sony have all made significant cuts.
  • More than 270 tech companies in the tech sector have laid off more than 70,000 in the first quarter of 2024, according to the layoffs tracker.
  • Layoffs reflect a broader trend in the tech job market, where companies increasingly lean on AI and automation for efficiency and innovation, often resulting in a reduced human workforce.
  • Massive tech layoffs spurred ‘Layoff Diaries,’ an emerging trend in which employees film and share their layoff experiences online.”

Federal News NetworkBy one count, the cybersecurity job market is running dry:
“Tom Temin - Now, you’ve often heard the statistic we’ve all heard that there’s a million jobs going, wanting in cybersecurity in the country, your report shows about 330, maybe 331,000 listings? Could it simply be that, golly, the other two-thirds of a million have been filled, and things are getting better?

"Deidre Diamond - That’s one way to look at it. I wish that were the case, you know, the million-little-plus jobs that are open that we’ve all heard about is a bit of a myth to us all. So there’s one piece of data that we’re all unsure of. So I would say that what we do know is that there’s a decrease in the advertisement of cyber jobs in, you know, corporate U.S. as well as state and local governments and government contractors. I mean, this, this data represents, you know, 30 major job boards, as well as websites of Fortune 500 companies. So I don’t think anything’s getting better. I’m 10 years into this now. And I get the, you know, more and more nervous every day. Because burnout has been our biggest threat for the last many, many years. And now with this economic shift, causing capitalism to reduce the need of cyber professionals in organizations, burnout is even getting higher and higher.”

CNBC‘NEETS’ and ‘new unemployables’ — why some young adults aren’t working:
“Although the unemployment rate has spent 30 months at or below 4% — a near record — not everyone who wants a job has one. And not everyone even wants a job at all.

“Some, referred to as 'NEETs,' which stands for 'not in employment, education, or training,' are opting out of the labor force largely because they are discouraged by their economic standing.

“Others, alternatively, are well-qualified but often younger candidates who are struggling to find positions, comprising a contingent of “new unemployables,” according to a recent report by Korn Ferry.”


But before you get too depressed, consider these job market headlines telling a very different story:

Washington Post Demand for better cybersecurity fuels a booming job market:

“The number of cyberattacks has almost doubled in the past five years — averaging 758,000 annually — according to the FBI’s Internet Criminal Complaint Center, also known as IC3. Those are the cases we know of. When the FBI infiltrated the Hive ransomware network in 2023, they discovered that only one in five victims had filed complaints with law enforcement. The growing threat has created a booming job market for cybersecurity specialists. The Labor Department forecasts steady growth, and a widely circulated report by Cybersecurity Ventures says unfilled jobs in the industry more than tripled worldwide since 2013. Though the pace has leveled off — and the U.S. tech industry shed jobs last year — there are many vacant positions in the United States.

“The need has been especially keen in the nation’s capital, as government agencies and private corporations compete for qualified people.”

CNBCMove over, remote jobs. CEOs say borderless talent is the future of tech work:

“To work remotely or not is no longer the question. Experts say it’s borderless hiring for technology roles that is stealing the conversation.

“'Remote is like the gateway drug to borderless,' said Jeremy Johnson, CEO of AI-enabled tech talent marketplace Andela, whose customers include Goldman Sachs, Github and Coursera. 'Once you realize that you don’t have to all be in the same office five days a week in order to build a compelling culture and feel connected to the mission and solve complex problems, you then start thinking there are great people all over the world.'”

CSPAN — Emily Peck on the U.S. Job Market and the Economy


My take on what is happening currently is that we are seeing a mixed picture around the country regarding tech and cyber roles.

On the one side, the market for AI expertise is currently off the charts, and many people are retooling, taking classes and rewriting their resumes to including GenAI and AI skills. We are also seeing a continued need for certain cybersecurity skills, especially in hot geographic areas like Washington, D.C., which has a large federal workforce, along with contractors supporting the defense and intelligence communities.

Nevertheless, at the same time, I am hearing from many excellent cyber and tech pros in multiple fields, from programmers to data experts, who are finding it hard to land roles around the country that they consider “long-term career moves.” These pros are finding short-term positions and project work, but many continue to struggle to find a career match in tech roles.

There is no doubt that many tech companies, while seeing a surge in stock market value, continue to be very selective in hiring, if not instituting a hiring freeze. However, I am not seeing the same level of caution with state and local tech and cyber jobs.

I am advising some colleagues to consider government jobs, and I know of experts and leaders who are considering a switch to the public sector despite substantial pay (and stock option) differences.

Before I go any further, I want to point you toward some resources already provided on this topic from Lohrmann on Cybersecurity. Last year I presented some details on how to get a job in cybersecurity, and I have also written that the private sector’s pain may be to the government’s gain in this piece about corporate tech layoffs and how the public sector can benefit and attract talent.


We are at a strange juncture, with some saying that the U.S. economy is slowing, while others say that the tech job market continues to boom.

It is also difficult to gauge how topics like our growing remote workforce and COVID-19-era hiring have impacted our current job market situation.

Are we going though adjustments in staffing levels now, after companies overhired for several years? Many think the answer is yes. We clearly are seeing a slowdown in technology and risk management roles in the private sector.

But only time will tell if we are in a temporary lull in hiring tech and cyber workers or if this is the beginning of a more dramatic change in the job market in the nascent "age of AI."
Daniel J. Lohrmann is an internationally recognized cybersecurity leader, technologist, keynote speaker and author.