Rumors about the tech slowdown is advance warning for more job training

A win-win for organizations and Millennials.


Analysts, market researchers, and tech writers agree the tech bubble will burst sooner than most think. The Age of Unicorns’ is slowly trending downwards, and some expect it to continue: fewer tech firms will have overly-hyped valuations above the $1 billion mark. The humongous valuations we saw in the last few years for Unicorns like Uber, Airbnb and Snapchat are not expected to trickle down to the thousands of smaller tech startups, even if they’re in a period of rapid growth. The tech bubble may likely burst — albeit slowly — and any tech-related jobs will be affected, with the upside of better innovation, leaner companies, and lighter San Francisco traffic.

A slowdown in the tech industry could have huge effects on jobs for Millennials; the younger ones still starting their careers, and the older ones on the cusp of climbing management ladders. While it may continue to be a candidate’s market for positions like software developers in high demand, all other tech-adjunct positions may not have the same outlook. Millennials are being given advance warning to prepare for a difficult job market but we still have YOLO assumptions about career movement flexibility. We think jobs are still easy to find, and the tech industry will continue to grow and support us, somehow. And because of these assumptions, we’ve maintained a negative stigma about job training, mentoring, and asking for assistance with our tech careers.

If Millennials don’t heed the tell-tales of journalists and current statistical trends, in a few years, a lot of us will be job hunting again and regretting we did not have more training and experience.

Millennials in tech may have already forgotten that the 2008 recession was the deepest employment downturn since WWII, and America-at-large is arguably still feeling its effects, which only began to curtail in 2011. Those hit heaviest were labor, manufacturing, and construction industries, but remember, tech companies were still climbing out of significantly deep economic holes in 2012. Unemployment is still an important topic consistently covered in financial news, pointing back at the importance for economic growth after the recent recession. To combat stagnant job growth during the recession, the federal government bailed out car companies, forced banks to consolidate, and injected millions of dollars where it was arguably needed most.

On the micro level, private organizations hired slowly and cautiously, while investing less in their management-level employees. Money was tight and formal job training requires time off, even though a 2012 Harvard Business Review article showed that young managers claimed mentoring, coaching, and training were high-priorities for them. And studies show that mentoring has great career benefits. After the 2008 recession, job training became more important for retention, but big tech firms didn’t seem to get the message. Whether it correlates or not, today, tech companies in the Fortune 500 have the lowest average tenure rates and in San Francisco, the stereotype is that 18 months is when you should be looking for your next job.

After the recession, training and mentoring staff were the most important professional benefits that employees wanted for retention—have we not realized we need to implement them?

We know that mentoring is important for a wide variety of reasons including knowledge management, career mobility, and innovation. Being aware of job training and it’s benefits is critical for retention in the tech industry, especially with this predicted downturn and abysmal tenure rates. If you’re a Millennial, mentoring is especially important because you’re optimistic about your career but also ready to use your current job to springboard to another one. And if you’re a tech firm without formal training, mentoring, or coaching programs, you should’ve implemented them yesterday. Don’t be late to the party.

A tech downturn is advance warning for many things including: tightening budgets, becoming a leaner organization, and increasing innovation through knowledge sharing. But job training opportunities may arguably be the most valuable and effective investment for employees and their organizations. Young Millennials who need more training, get some, and slap it on their resumés; and organizations increase their chances for longer tenure. It’s a win-win, but no doubt it requires time & money. And that’s a pretty lame excuse when you know you should be investing in your people in all ways possible.