If you’re working in a technology role in an investment bank and feeling uncertain about your future during the COVID-19 pandemic, should you consider switching to a job at a big tech company instead?
After all, Google’s hiring slowdown notwithstanding, big technology companies are theoretically well-placed to thrive during COVID-19, while banks face the uncertainty of future write-downs. Oliver Wyman and Morgan Stanley already predict that banks will trim non-essential IT spending in the face of the virus, with projects that only deliver long-term benefits likely the first to face the axe.
At first glance, this ‘big tech good, banking bad’ mantra seems fair. Big tech firms have yet to report their first quarter results, but companies such as Facebook have already made bullish statements on recruitment.
Earlier in April, for example, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said the social-networking giant still plans to hire 10,000 people for its product and engineering teams this year, and that recruiting and hiring are continuing “at a very, very aggressive clip.”
Facebook is supposed to be hiring 1,000 people in London in 2020 and 3,000 people in New York in three to five years. While banks are making their internships virtual, Facebook is offering virtual internships and the option of subsidized housing for all this summer.
Despite Facebook’s bullishness, however, there are signs that the company is quietly curtailing recruitment behind the scenes. Data from Burning Glass, for example, shows that Facebook’s UK job postings fell 85 percent between February 15th and April 18th, a reduction far in excess of the drop we saw at most major banks.
Meanwhile, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said last week that Google will slow hiring for the rest of this year, with the exception of a “few strategic areas” such as datacenters.
People posting on Blind, which allows technologists to anonymously respond to surveys, suggest that LinkedIn, Microsoft, Apple and Netflix have also frozen hiring. That aligns with data from Burning Glass, which posits that LinkedIn’s U.S. new job postings fell over 40 percent between February and March, and that Microsoft and Apple’s new roles have dwindled to almost nothing in the past few weeks.
So it certainly looks like a hiring freeze at many companies due to COVID-19, at least in the short term. Even SAP, which could theoretically be immune to the crisis as companies amend enterprise architecture, is hiring almost no one, according to Burning Glass. The same applies to Slack, the messaging system. However, it’s worth noting that, in cities large and small across the U.S., new hiring for tech roles overall remains solid, and often up year-over-year in some cases; employers are just being cautious in this new, uncertain environment.
The crisis could even be comparatively good news for banks‘ tech teams: banks are still hiring for technology roles and are still offering internships. It’s clearly not an entirely rosy picture: Technology recruitment at leading banks in the U.K. and the U.S. fell 76 percent and 86 percent, respectively, between mid-March and mid-April, according to Burning Glass.
But there’s still hiring, and this must surely be good news for banks, who will need their technologists to drive automation through faster than ever when the immediate crisis wanes.
A modified version of this article originally appeared in eFinancialCareers.