It should come as no surprise that 2020 was an unusual year for recruiting. The Covid-19 pandemic caused a contraction in hiring for many jobs across many different industries. And while tech hiring didn’t contract, it did change in several major ways.
Throughout 2020, companies continued to add tech jobs, although they did so at a slower pace than in 2019. In 2021, tech hiring completely rebounded. There were, in fact, more jobs advertised in 2021 than in pre-pandemic 2019. Nonetheless, the pandemic still had an impact.
For this report, we collected job listing data directly from over 10,000 companies for the years 2019, 2020, and 2021. Looking solely at U.S.-based technology jobs, we analyzed the data for trends. What we found was several major shifts in hiring for technology jobs. They include an increase in hiring at smaller companies, a shift from larger cities to smaller ones, and a rise in experience requirements.
→ The initial shock of the pandemic led to hiring stagnation in 2020 across all sectors, including technology. However, tech hiring bounced back massively in 2021 with a surge in advertised jobs. New jobs emerged as public and private markets fueled massive rounds and valuations, and the Great Resignation brought talent attrition to its highest recorded levels.
→ Amid these changes, hiring shifted away from traditional industries and markets. Fortune 500 companies (the largest U.S.-based companies) fell to their lowest proportion of jobs since 2019. Meanwhile, Startups (Privately Held, smaller but backed by funding and rapidly growing), Unicorns (Privately Held with a $1 billion evaluation), and Non-big Tech (non-tech companies hiring for tech jobs) picked up the slack, accounting for a substantial portion of tech job growth.
→ The San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle saw their contribution of jobs fall nearly 25% in favor of emerging tech hubs. Underlying the public migration of tech Venture Capitalists (VCs) like Keith Rabois to Miami was substantial growth in Miami and other emerging tech hubs like Austin, Salt Lake City, Atlanta, and Detroit.
→ Product Management, User Interface/User Experience (UI/UX) Design, and Information Technology (IT) Support jobs grew the fastest. Jobs in Infrastructure Engineering, Project Management, and Information Security (InfoSec) grew slower than the overall market (they still grew, just at a slower rate). Meanwhile, the sector saw a shift away from Entry-level jobs (not typically requiring prior work experience) and Senior jobs (typically requiring 10+ years of experience) in favor of Junior jobs (typically requiring fewer than four years of experience) and Mid-level jobs (typically requiring between four and 10 years of experience).
The first major shift has to do with the size of companies advertising for jobs. For this, we looked at the number of jobs posted by companies of different sizes. While most of the analysis of tech jobs focuses on hiring at Traditional Big Tech companies (well-established large companies like Intel, IBM, and Oracle), those companies only account for a minority of U.S. tech workers overall. To see the big picture, we needed to look at trends across all employers.
Our analysis revealed a significant change in the hiring landscape from 2019 to 2021. Job postings at Traditional Big Tech companies proportionately declined. Job postings also proportionally decreased at large, global companies like Facebook and Netflix (i.e., Fortune 500), representing a separate trend from Traditional Big Tech, although some overlap exists.
Meanwhile, the proportion of job postings from recently listed Public companies (publicly listed but not large enough to be in the Fortune 500), Startups, Unicorns and Non-big Tech companies rose. In essence, growth in tech jobs came from a broad swath of employers outside of Traditional Big Tech and FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google).
While the rate of growth in tech jobs slowed somewhat in 2019 and 2020 because of the pandemic, it rebounded strongly in 2021. And the overall number of advertisements for tech jobs in 2021 was nearly double the number for 2019 or 2020.
Smaller companies including Startups, Unicorns, and more modest Public companies accounted for most of the tech hiring growth.
Our analysis also revealed a change to the seniority levels that companies required in their job posts.
We found that, throughout 2021, companies advertised for proportionally more Junior and Mid-level jobs, with a significant decrease in the proportion of Entry-level jobs.
Companies also defined the seniority level of jobs more clearly. Proportionally fewer job postings were ambiguous about the number of years of experience required.
Where companies hired also changed. Currently, the San Francisco Bay Area is the heart of the global tech industry, while New York City, the District of Columbia, and Seattle are important U.S.-based tech hubs. We were curious whether the growth in tech jobs was occurring in these hubs or elsewhere as a result of the pandemic.
We found that hires in powerhouse U.S. tech centers didn’t increase as much as hires in areas outside of those tech centers and the coastal corridors. Remote jobs may account for some of that growth but not all of it.
While tech jobs overall grew in 2021, they grew significantly more in certain cities. In fact, we found several cities outside the traditional powerhouse tech centers that saw significant growth.
The data confirmed widespread conversations around places like Austin, Miami, and Salt Lake City becoming rising tech centers. Miami, for example, saw a 160% increase in its jobs between 2019 and 2021, which equates to a 45% increase in the city’s representation of U.S. tech job growth overall.
The percentages in the map below represent each city’s growth between 2019 to 2021 as a proportion of all U.S. tech job growth.
The types of jobs companies hired for also shifted. In 2021, three types of jobs, in particular, saw disproportionate increases in hiring compared to 2019.
Meanwhile, two types of jobs saw proportional decreases in hiring compared to 2019.
Overall, we found that job postings increased for positions in new areas such as Product Management and decreased for jobs in traditional areas such as Backend Engineering.
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