The State of the Tech Sector Hiring Market

September 8, 2008

I have been receiving a lot of calls on the state of the executive job market. Our business is considered a good barometer of the health of that market and if we are slow it is reasonable to assume the same of the overall job market.
So how are we doing?

First, the good news is that so far, the tech sector is hanging in there. Companies are functioning, in some instances expanding their businesses, and hiring new people. Companies in segments such as wireless, Cleantech, and aerospace, to name a few, remain reasonably robust. Also, tech firms selling into stable markets such as utilities, hospitals and government appear to be business as usual.

For those affected by the downturn selective hiring is taking place around the pain points de jour. For example, as some firms batten down their cost and operational hatches, there has been a somewhat predictable surge in CFO hiring across the sector. There have also been a number of VP Sales openings as companies either blame their existing sales leaders for soft growth or seek different skills to troll for new revenue streams.

Some functional roles appear to be on the wrong side of the trending. Firms do not appear to be hiring VPs of Engineering or Marketing and there are a number of very capable functional leaders on the market whose employers have chosen to make hard decisions on what to keep or cut.

In the VC market, several trends are clear. VCs are rationalizing their portfolios of investments and making hard decisions on where to continue investing and where to cut bait. The performers are attracting funds and hiring new staff, while non performers are being positioned to be sold. Yet others firms, those considered execution-challenged, are attracting sustaining funds on the condition that selected management is replaced. Overall, it is a fluid time, with people scrambling to understand the changing landscape. While the turbulence presents dangers there is a sense that opportunity awaits the shrewd and opportunistic.

We remain busy, albeit less so than in the past. Our pipeline is reasonable and we see new opportunities every day. Like the candidates who call us, it is a time to focus, hustle, beat the proverbial bushes and keep our eyes open. A better tomorrow will reward those who stay in the game.