Tech Workers Affected By Layoffs Find Innovative Ways Back Into the Industry


Share on LinkedIn


Pundits have compared the current wave of tech industry layoffs to the dot com bust of the early 2000s, but the fact of the matter is that far more people have been impacted by them than nearly any other downturn. The sheer size of the tech industry in today’s world is staggering. As a result, recently released workers are finding it difficult to adjust to their new situation.

To some extent, human resource department heads have realized that they may have been too aggressive with the current round of layoffs. That means some tech industry firms have actually started to hire people again. Former employees who have recently lost their jobs aren’t necessarily flocking to take these positions, however, because they seldom offer perks like flexible schedules or the ability to work remotely.

Managers Resist Remote Work Demands

According to one study, an astonishing 98% of all members of the labor force would prefer to work from home at least part of the time. However, managers have tended to resist this trend overall and more than a few major employers have grown leery of offering remote work. At best, most of the larger tech companies provide a hybrid model that requires staffers to stop by their office on a regular basis even if they accomplish most tasks through a virtual office.

Other firms have experimented with retreat days and other creative techniques designed to increase employee engagement levels. While these have enjoyed at least a limited level of success, a large percentage of individuals who found themselves out of work as a result of the recent layoffs would still prefer to be able to set their own pace when it comes to completing tasks. Those who can’t find what they’re looking for among available job openings may very well go out on their own.

Technologists are Turning into Entrepreneurs

Some of the more enterprising individuals who have suffered the indignity of being laid off have sought to do everything they can to get a new job that works for them. Since they haven’t been able to find employers who offer them the ability to set their own schedule and work from home, they’ve elected to start their own businesses. Many have elected to become freelancers by leveraging their existing skills. Software developers, technical writers and even computer industry-focused reporters have found that there are plenty of smaller firms willing to hire them on a temporary basis whenever they need a particular task done.

While it can be hard to survive in what many have called a high-tech extension of the gig economy, making it as a freelancer can also be extremely rewarding. Certain skillsets lend themselves to this kind of work. Pixel artists and those who design icons who were previously employed by mobile app developers may be able to lend a hand to startups working to get their first products out. Those with business management experience may want to consider a career in consulting.

Even firms that have recently been scaling back their operations need to get advice when making business decisions. That’s left plenty of opportunities for those who have at least some financial experience in addition to technical skills. Those who don’t mind taking the plunge into total self-employment may even want to think aboutstarting a bookkeeping business. Small business accountants usually enjoy a fair amount of scheduling leeway, making this an attractive option for anyone who wants to avoid getting into any high-stress tech industry positions in the future.

Former tech company employees who prefer to stick with something closer to home may even try to develop their own apps and marketing them through the typical channels. Programmers who have recently been released from their old contracts may have enough contacts in the industry to make this profitable. Those who don’t mind taking on more of a risk are rediscovering the old try-before-you-buy way of marketing software.

Rediscovering the Shareware Market

The proliferation of app store sales channels connected to almost every digital ecosystem has enabled developers to give trial copies of their applications away for free. Users who want the full versions can then pay a registration fee, which resembles the shareware sales model that was once popular with personal computer-focused brands. People who were laid off from their previous engineering jobs often walk away from them with many ideas that they were never able to fully explore when working for someone else. Regulators are looking to introduce competition into the app store ecosystem by forcing tech companies to let their customers buy apps from anyone they want to, which is making this an even more lucrative option.

Alternative app stores have existed unofficially for some time. Many people who continue to use these are highly technical individuals who are willing to pay more for productivity tools that meet their demanding needs. Technicians who’ve written their own mobile archiving software and media players have enjoyed fairly good returns on their investments. It’s likely that those who focus on markets that aren’t currently served by the majority of the established tech industry will be able to attract a reasonably sized client base.

Independent programmers will often focus on games when they create their first products, but many people looking to buy apps these days have more free games than they could ever know what to do with. Potential clients may be more willing to loosen their purse strings when given the chance to buy simple apps that stay out of their way. Bloatware has become a major problem on many platforms after all.

As major startups focus on things like blockchain development and artificial intelligence tools, independent authors can fill in the gaps they miss. Laid off employees have already seen which needs aren’t being met by their old employers. That puts them in a great position to offer products to customers who are willing to step outside of their comfort zone when finding new solutions.

Philip Piletic
I have several years of experience in marketing and startups, and regularly contribute to a number of online platforms related to technology, marketing and small business. I closely follow how Big Data, Internet of Things, Cloud and other rising technologies grew to shape our everyday lives. Currently working as managing editor for a UK tech site.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here