Tech jobs took a heavy hit in 2022. According to Layoffs.fyi, 424 tech companies laid off 120,253 employees in the first two months of 2023. But it might not be as bad as it sounds. “This kind of realignment happens regularly, and often companies take the opportunity to do this under cover of an economic downturn,” explains Rachel Bellow, a cofounder of Bonfire, a talent development accelerator for the rising generation of women in the workplace.
“If we examine hiring and firing numbers over the past 24 months, we see that companies like Meta, Salesforce, Microsoft and others have hired far more employees than they have fired, sometimes by a factor of 10.” But according to LinkedIn’s February Workforce Report, the industries that have seen the biggest declines since last spring are technology, information, and media (down 41 percent). To stay competitive in those fields, job seekers must keep their tech skills strong.
Whether you’re looking to stay relevant in your current position, survive a company reorg, or secure a new role, continuing to grow intellectually and emotionally will serve your career well. We asked career experts and tech veterans to weigh in on the skills you need to succeed in tech in 2023; as it turns out, some aren’t very techy at all.
“Since the world—and the way we work—has forever changed, how we define terms like management, communication, and leadership must keep up with the times, because so many of our before-Covid ways have become obsolete,” says workplace happiness expert Jenn Lim, CEO of Delivering Happiness and best-selling author of Beyond Happiness. “It’s time to remind ourselves we can be wise about how we choose to grow, develop, and reskill, and if we get better at something automation will never replace—being human—then the likelihood of us staying relevant and valued will always be there.”
LinkedIn’s 2023 Most In-Demand Skills Report is a solid place to start when assessing your experience and where you might need to bolster your skills, but it continues beyond there. “Companies aren’t just looking for software developers; they’re looking for developers who can weave in their knowledge of finance, sales, operations, and cloud computing too,” Lim says, “Companies are looking for people with an array of skills.”
Twenty years ago, people were told to be specialists, but that’s risky these days when a skill may become redundant or automated. “To succeed in tech in 2023, talent needs to have T-shaped skill sets,” says Danielle Boris, CEO and founder of Sandbox, an HR technology company dedicated to leveraging and motivating talent. “People should have a breadth of knowledge across their disciplines and depth of knowledge in one area, making them more valuable to organizations, especially ones continuously adapting their workforces,” Boris explains.
The current job market constantly evolves, and many employers have shifted to a skills-first mindset when hiring. “Weighing a candidate’s skills just as much as a degree or previous experience levels the playing field for millions of folks, explains Andrew McCaskill, LinkedIn career expert and creator of The Black Guy in Marketing newsletter. McCaskill suggests considering your skill set as your “career toolkit,” highlighting the skills you already have and making a list to build the ones you don’t. “Leaning into a skills-first strategy can give you the confidence to navigate the job market, particularly through turbulent times,” he says.
Like LinkedIn, Upwork released its list of most in-demand skills for 2023 and data showing that 60 million Americans (39 percent of the US workforce) performed at least some freelance work in the past 12 months. Success for freelancers also means having a complete toolkit. “I developed most of my technical skills through self-teaching, via sites like the Microsoft 365 channel on YouTube and through trial and error,” says Ryan Clark, Upwork freelancer and founder of Mr. SharePoint. “The more high-quality skills I possess, the more marketable I become, so I consistently stay motivated to learn and be on the cutting edge of technology.”