Pst! Mefites! What's your take on the job market?
January 24, 2022 8:24 AM   Subscribe

The Labor market is in disarray. Is what we're hearing the same thing we're experiencing? You Quit. I Quit. We All Quit. And It’s Not a Coincidence. What is work like for those of us outside of the media maelstrom?

Are we finding new jobs? Not if we're over a certain age. Are we organizing more? Not according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Has pay gone up? In some cases, yes, it has either risen, or is projected to rise further. Is remote work here to stay? It would appear that it absolutely is, even in corporate America.

In agregate, however, all these stories provide a piecemeal picture. It's hard to get a sense of what things are really like out there in cross-sector America (or anyplace else). Workers of Metafilter: (1) What region do you live in? (2) What field do you work in? (3) Has covid changed work for employers or employees in your sector?
posted by Violet Blue (105 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
My agency is trying to hire over a hundred entry-level positions (GS4-6) and are having a hard time trying to fill the positions. Almost all of them are telework-capable, do not require a degree, are provide full federal benefits. It is rough right now.
posted by gwydapllew at 8:48 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]

Midwestern US: Many of my colleagues (in an HR-adjacent field) have switched jobs recently or are actively interviewing. Some of the job moves have been into roles/companies that I would have thought as stretch, based on where the person was in their career.

No experience needed roles like stocking in a grocery distribution center are advertising starting rates above $20/hour, some as high as $26, plus benefits, signing bonuses, and transportation assistance.

Most office jobs have become hybrid, with 3/2 or 2/3 splits common. Some organizations have gone entirely remote. A couple of major employers in the region have been remote since the start of the pandemic and have (multiple times) announced mandatory return to the office, with enough employee pushback that they have cancelled or delayed those plans.

There's a split between executives that get remote is here to stay, and have proactively worked to come up with arrangements that make sense to employees, and executives that don't get it and have ham-handedly tried to bring everyone back.

In person jobs at hospitals, manufacturing companies, etc. are seeing conflict between on site employees and employees with remote-capable jobs. Again, there's a split: some companies have been thoughtful about creating a consistent culture in both kinds of roles, and some companies have just let in-person employees become second class citizens. I know several organizations that are trying to come up with ways to provide more flexibility to their front lines; I don't know of anyone who has come up with a truly winning solution.
posted by philosophygeek at 9:02 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]

I've been looking for work for almost three months now. It is Hell. The other day I applied for a job with a bank through I then received an email from the bank inviting me to apply on their site. Where I would need to upload my resume which they already had from indeed, then fill in the application with the same information which is on my resume. I've told them if they need me to put my information into their ATS we can discus a rate. I haven't heard back.
I interviewed for a job on 12/20/22. They were then out of the office until 1/4/22 and didn't get back to me until 1/7/22. That job required relocation so every morning for almost a month I woke up thinking about needing to move and all that entailed only to be rejected via a short email on a Friday afternoon. At no point in any process so far has it seemed like I could be a person with feelings, I am only a potential cog sitting on a shelf to be picked up if necessary and ignored if not.
I'm lucky in that we're financially in a place that I don't need to work to eat but christ I want to talk to adults that aren't my family about problems that don't personally impact me. I want to build things with other people. Please if anybody has a not terrible job in Boise or a remote position let me know.
posted by Uncle at 9:02 AM on January 24 [45 favorites]

My agency is trying to hire over a hundred entry-level positions (GS4-6) and are having a hard time trying to fill the positions.

The living wage for here in eastern Mass is $20/hr. GS-4 base rate with local cost adjustments is $17.30/hr.

posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:02 AM on January 24 [35 favorites]

I'm a software engineer living near Portland, Maine. Full-time remote jobs are definitely now much, much more commonplace than they were even a few years ago, and I don't think that the impact on the local labor market has been fully felt yet. At least in my industry, local employers are not at all competitive with remote roles in terms of salary, benefits, interestingness of opportunities, etc. Some employers seem to be doing a better job of getting ahead of it by increasing salaries and benefits BEFORE people head for the hills; others, not so much, and they're seeing their good people all disappear.

When I moved up here ~5 years ago, I was really concerned about whether or not there was enough local work in my industry to keep me gainfully employed and learning. Now, there are ample (better) remote jobs available to me, so the local industry doesn't really matter as much. From an individual perspective, it's a ton of opportunity - I got a new (full-time remote) job last fall for a frankly ludicrous bump. From another perspective, though, it's going to mean a lot of the local employers get kind of hollowed out.

I'm curious about the second order effects of this over time. Having a bunch of remote-working types that are (at least for now) paid wildly out of step with the local norms is disruptive in a lot of ways. People relocating into the area and (by necessity) getting local jobs also used to be a good way to cross-pollinate in new ideas, I suspect we'll see a lot less of that going forward. In general, I suspect we'll see more of a gap between "folks who work locally" and "folks who work remote" in a lot of ways, which probably isn't great even on an individual level.
posted by twigatwig at 9:03 AM on January 24 [17 favorites]

I still can't believe that the NYT ran over 1,500 words on why people might be quitting jobs or charging careers right now and did not bother to mention, you know, the deaths.

And co-opted infectious disease terms, but mainly mentioned the pandemic in reference to baking banana bread.

And generally failed to acknowledge that people might be responding to working conditions or anything happening in the real world, and not just seeing a coworker quit and acting on a vibe.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:10 AM on January 24 [119 favorites]

I quit my job recently (3 months ago) and found a new job within just a couple of weeks. It pays substantially more and I got a step up the corporate ladder. Both remote jobs, both with good benefits, both in the tech industry though newer job is much more techy/start-uppy whereas the old one had a more salesy culture, former hq in FL and new one in CA. I live in upstate NY.

Both my old and new employer are hiring at a breakneck pace. In the last 6 months my current company hired 90 people (out of a total 400 employees). The whole company works on a "remote-first" basis now, i.e. primarily remote and no plan to return to regular office work, but we'll likely be expected to travel to hq a couple of times a year from next year on (pandemic permitting). Lots of positions still open in sales, software development, project management, marketing, and content writing. (DM me if you're looking for a role in these areas and want to work in the AI space. Just to be clear I do not get a commission or anything for referring candidates so I don't have any financial interest in making this comment 🙂)
posted by MiraK at 9:17 AM on January 24 [11 favorites]

Having a bunch of remote-working types that are (at least for now) paid wildly out of step with the local norms is disruptive in a lot of ways.

My vast multinational is giving team leads the option to let everyone work from wherever they want (as long as the company has an office in that country, for tax & legal compliance reasons), but anyone moving from (for example) the Bay Area to Mumbai would have their pay re-set at the rate for the new location. Folks who'd relocated speculatively (that is, in advance of the rules being decided and announced) to low-cost areas were quite miffed. It wasn't many people, but boy were they noisy on internal email lists.

...but people who already lived in satellite office areas were thrilled to pieces, because suddenly they could join major Headquarters teams (which are typically among the highest-impact and thus good for your career) without having to move. The satellite office leaders, on the other hand, seem to be more equivocal since a lot of them have spent a long time trying to build local teams and now their superstars are joining HQ teams instead, so while they have good "office headcount" numbers, their local teams are actually losing headcount.
posted by aramaic at 9:22 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]

I work in government and although I was able to hire a new staff member this fall, my division has had a hard time filling slots, and we lost a lot of people during covid (retirements and resignations, not deaths). We had a 17% vacancy rate for a while.

My understanding is that government consulting firms are pretty desperate: the hours are long and the workload heavy, and a lot of our contractors are struggling to keep their team members on board so as to meet our requirements.
posted by suelac at 9:26 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]

I still can't believe that the NYT ran over 1,500 words on why people might be quitting jobs or charging careers right now and did not bother to mention, you know, the deaths.

The extent to which the so-called "liberal media" bends over backwards to not describe, in plain language, Republican policy preferences and their measurable effects is astonishing.

Apparently describing Republican policies and their outcomes would seem "biased." At best, they adopt a wishy-washy "both sides" frame ("Ron DeSantis let a million Covid tests expire and hides Florida's infection rate, but the CDC sometimes has issued confusing guidance over the past two years, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯").
posted by Gelatin at 9:27 AM on January 24 [26 favorites]

Oh, and we are far far more telework-flexible than we were three years ago. Two of my team moved away in 2020, and my new hire lives a 2-hour flight away. She comes in every few weeks for a day or so to maintain her locality pay.
posted by suelac at 9:27 AM on January 24

As for older workers, consider government jobs. ALL of our hires in the last year are over 40, I would guess, and many of the more senior hires are over 60.
posted by suelac at 9:30 AM on January 24 [12 favorites]

Has anyone considered that jobs aren't being filled because a lot of people died at the same time?
posted by bleep at 9:33 AM on January 24 [18 favorites]

New York City. A tech/manufacturing firm. And....I am a unicorn, and the luckiest damn person ever, since my own workplace situation has improved in the past two years:

* This company is in my neighborhood, so I could walk to work.

* I started the first week of March in 2020, so being able to work took me out of public transit right before having to use it would have been an issue.

* This is 100% in my wheelhouse so I'm rocking it and the boss is awesome.

* The workplace culture here is humane and sane, and everyone sincerely likes each other; we had a company barbecue just outside the building this August, and we were living it up so hard that we attracted a couple of party crashers.

* One of the company's responses to the Covid crisis was to spin out a second division to make a Covid breathing assistance device.

I realize I am lucky as hell and I am incredibly grateful. But a friend of mine also recently got hired by the city after a very long job search, and my roommate was a Covid layoff in 2020 - and got officially re-hired by his old job back in like November (after several months of "temp work" assignments for them that just got longer and longer until they realized "wait, this makes more sense").

PS: there are job openings at my company in NYC, San Diego and Hollister, CA, most of them tech oriented.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:38 AM on January 24 [12 favorites]

all these stories provide a piecemeal picture

Here's another piece: a huge part of the changes in the labor force have been women leaving the workplace and not returning. There are lots of reasons for this: sexist management disproportionately firing women first and hiring them last, women often being in jobs that require a lot of emotional labor and thus suffering burnout disproportionately, and sexist relationships and income disparities that disproportionately make women the stay-at-home caregiver.

In many cases, families have realized they were in the two-income trap: a family might as well only have one income because, in real take-home terms, the second income is often consumed by childcare costs anyway. So even as the economic recovery has kinda-sorta begun, it is often economically rational (and safer) for a woman to be an unpaid caregiver at home, but this is, of course, a tremendously shitty Hobson's choice.

I really hope that this all leads to an increase in unionization over the next few years.
posted by jedicus at 9:40 AM on January 24 [62 favorites]

I still can't believe that the NYT ran over 1,500 words on why people might be quitting jobs or charging careers right now and did not bother to mention, you know, the deaths.

People complaining about how 'nobody wants to work' have gotten really uncomfortable when I've pointed out deaths. I don't know what the stat is for deaths by industry but at one point in the pandemic, the rate of death among kitchen/back of house staff was rather staggering. "Yeah, sorry about your favorite restaurant, people died." They aren't coming to work because they are dead. Or they aren't coming to work because someone they support is dead or dying. Or they aren't coming to work because they need to take care of the children while someone else works. The NYTimes doesn't want to make anyone uncomfortable now, do they?
posted by amanda at 9:40 AM on January 24 [72 favorites]

I still can't believe that the NYT ran over 1,500 words on why people might be quitting jobs or charging careers right now and did not bother to mention, you know, the deaths.

Are you saying because a significant portion of working age people actually died (deaths among working age people are about 0.1% which is a lot in many ways, but probably not that significant in terms of labour supply) or because Covid has caused people to rethink their working conditions?

I think long Covid is an underappreciated factor though. In the UK, about 0.5% of the working age population reports long Covid that is limiting their day-to-day activities a lot. That would be a significant factor in the labour market.
posted by ssg at 9:42 AM on January 24 [17 favorites]

My design team consists of me, a PE, one other PE, a draftsman, a new graduate who won't be eligible for his PE for years, and two managers.

I am almost positive the new guy plans to return to grad school in the fall. The other PE just gave his notice.

At least I'll be well managed.
posted by The Monster at the End of this Thread at 9:49 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]

I'm a 51-year-old IT professional and this job market is incredibly frustrating. Since my last IT job ended in 2017 I have applied for hundreds of jobs I know for a fact I could do, because in some cases they are exactly like jobs I've done before in 20+ years in IT. I can count the number of companies with which I've gotten beyond an initial phone screen on two hands. The IT world is effectively ageist even if it is not intentionally so, because employers can only see people in a particular role if they already hold exactly that role. This plays out in two different ways:

1. If you are, or want to be, a coder, you need to have X years total experience, with Y years minimum in Z stack. If you have more than X years experience, however, chances are you've never had the chance to work in Z stack because you're still working in A or B stacks (because those were what you were working in five years ago and the companies that paid you weren't going to make money with a transition to Z, so those companies kept paying you to work on A or B). Never mind that Z stack is a lot like A with some B thrown in, the fact you've never done any work in Z will exclude you from the hiring pool for companies that only want Z.

2. If you are, or want to be, a manager, then you need most recently to have been a manager at the level the company is hiring, and you may also need to have the same hands on experience with Z stack that they expect hands on employees to have. I'm unsure how a candidate is expected to have hands on experience and management experience at the same time, but that seems to be a core requirement at a lot of places where managers aren't ever expected to be hands on. The more senior the management role, the more years experience in leadership you're expected to have while still somehow having hands on experience in Z stack.

3. BTW Z stack hasn't even been production-ready for the number of years experience you're supposed to have in it, so you basically need to have been on the bleeding edge of a trend just in order to meet the minimum requirement for it. (I'm old enough to remember when the joke was "four years Java" even though Java's public release was only two years old).

Almost the only way to have a professional IT career that combines the required number of years experience in the specific technology stack with the rest of the experience those companies are looking for is to be, at most, 35 years old, with a career path that follows one direct line from junior to senior to whatever that also has perfectly timed jumps where some other company has eaten the training cost for a technology that was effectively brand new when they trained you on it. If you're too old you won't have the "right" experience, or the expectation is that you would have been promoted out already and something must be wrong with you if you weren't (or didn't seek those promotions, or didn't stay on the path, or whatever).
posted by fedward at 9:51 AM on January 24 [36 favorites]

I'm in the greater Asheville NC area. For almost 10 years my wife and I both worked at a quirky national grocery store known for cheap wine. Covid destroyed any remaining will we had for working retail. In addition to Covid, our employer retroactively slashed our 401k contributions for last year. After 10 years of very low turnover, people are leaving in droves (especially veterans.)
I recently got a job without benefits working for the county we live in as a temp worker (I took an $8/hr paycut to take this job.) I applied for a permanent position in my office and am hopeful that I could make enough to afford my wife also leaving her position to focus on her creative artistic businesses.
posted by schyler523 at 9:52 AM on January 24 [9 favorites]

im still working in retail instead of the vast number of clerical jobs i applied for because no amount of excel test scores or writing ability could compensate for my lack of clerical experience.

my employer now pays for college education so im taking cs classes for free but it's going to be years before i get out and thats if i can pass.

my employer does not care if i live or die. my coworkers do not care if i live or die or if they live or die. our customers do not care if i live or die. but there is no one to support me if i quit. no benefits available to me. every day i wake up and wonder why im doing this. then i remember the college benefit and i somehow feel even more trapped than before.

just a massively, massively horrible time to be working in person. it's a miracle even more people haven't quit.
posted by the liquid oxygen at 9:59 AM on January 24 [37 favorites]

A decent number of people died, a decent number of people booked it for whatever hill was feasibly convenient, a very large number of people have been disabled, and a very large number of people retired.
posted by pan at 10:03 AM on January 24 [18 favorites]

I can only speak for my little corner of the tech industry, but man, it is impossible to hire senior developers right now. The ratios haven't changed (80% of people who apply have either lied through their teeth about their skills, or are so rusty that they can't solve FizzBuzz on a phone screen), but every candidate we have who appears even marginally capable of doing the job gets godfather-offered by another, more desperate employer before we can get them in the (virtual) door for an interview. My team has shrunk from 6 to 2 since the middle of 2021, and we're willing to train people up on our stack, but there's no one applying for the positions. (Or possibly our recruiters are terrible. I have a friend who's a tech recruiter, who tells me that it's impossible to hire recruiters right now, either)

So, uh, do any of you greybeard developers who are having trouble finding decent roles want to come work with me, a fellow Old, in a not-super-glamorous but stable and reasonably-paced remote role as a Java/Kotlin dev? MeMail me, I guess!
posted by Mayor West at 10:07 AM on January 24 [20 favorites]

They put all hiring on freeze at the start of the pandemic. I think you have to go through three different committees now (to this day) to get permission to hire anyone and you need to have dire arguments. Then HR is so short-staffed that it takes forever to get a job posted or to get anyone hired. My office has picked two candidates and are now waiting on HR again. I think it took over a year to hire people the last time we got any hired in my unit, and we're hiring once again since the other side lost most of their staff again. We're probably going to lose another manager because she's applying in another in-office unit, so we are somehow always perpetually short and getting temps (god bless them but we only get to keep them for 6 months). The overall giant org meeting last week said they had managed to get 13 hires processed and are still waiting on another 9 more.

Upper management of our office left during the pandemic--both the office CEO and the CEO above them--so that's been fun. Regarding our office, they were supposedly putting out a job ad and/or recruiting and so far they threw out one batch of applicants for not being good enough. We got to watch presentations of 2 people from batch #2 last week and apparently our management hated both candidates and the other two that were supposed to present then dropped out, so they are asking to have all of batch #2 thrown out to start all over AGAIN. I gather this time our management was asked for opinions but weren't on the committee or something, and the interim manager applied and was denied. I'm seriously wondering who they actually consider to be good enough to hire or who the heck they think is going to be even better on a third try since I don't think the job is the cream of the crop. They recruited the last CEO and she was not happy here. She left in April 2020 and I guessed back then it'll take about 22 months to get a replacement, and here we are in January 2022 and we're apparently not even going to manage that.

So trying to get hired here is excruciating, and I don't know who the heck they consider to be good enough to hire.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:21 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]

On the "not *megacorp* tech" side, it's interesting watching alternative benefits which previously wouldn't have been even brought up to be rejected start to be considered. At this point, there's no competing for cash+stock if that's what you want to maximize & you're willing to take advantage of the moral penalty some companies are having with hiring. (I've gone the opposite direction, going with a higher threshold of neutral-to-beneficial as much as could be said under the contemporary system, but it has to be acknowledged)

So what do you do as a company? Look at what the megacorps *won't* do, & see if you can angle into that. I'm already seeing companies getting rid of location-based salary adjustments, which is big for permanent-remote workers. I'm even seeing growing talk about moving to a 4-day-workweek (i.e. 32 hours as full-time, not 4x10), though there it seems like it's currently more "We don't want to be the first one to do it, but once a sufficiently large company does it we'll want to be there for it" sort of thing

I'm really not interested in hopping around, & there's definitely enough stuff I need to address now that hopefully I'm at a moment of breathing room?, but B-tier salary + permanent 3-day weekend would catch my attention, I have to admit.
posted by CrystalDave at 10:23 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]

We've (publicly traded tech company) have been seeing a trickle of people leaving for raises up to 60% in the last few months. Everyone in the management chain acknowledges that it's been a problem but HR has been relying on a high stock price to hold people. They're making some adjustments after a few years of no raises (due to ever increasing stock price), but it's too little, too late and honestly embarrassing. I fully expect a mass exodus after bonuses are paid out in March.

With the market downturn, not enough adjustments are going to be made to base comp to hang on to people and everyone except the direct management chain refuses to acknowledge there's a problem. I *hate* changing jobs, but after my final grant from when I was a new hire lands in June, I may search for greener pastures as well, especially with some employers not participating in the scam of location based pay. I took a 20% cut when I relocated last year, which was fine with the stock price propping up my compensation, not so much anymore.
posted by mikesch at 10:24 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]

I wonder if a lot of the over-65 folks who died were part/full-time carers for grandchildren/nieces/nephews. That could suck one person in a household out of the workforce. I haven’t seen any data on this, but that age group saw a *lot* of death.
posted by dbmcd at 10:33 AM on January 24 [29 favorites]

The living wage for here in eastern Mass is $20/hr. GS-4 base rate with local cost adjustments is $17.30/hr.

Side note on this: speaking generally, full-time federal jobs are unionized, have substantial statutory protections against dismissal, vest in the securest pension possible after three years, contribute 1% to the 401(k) equivalent as well as matching 4% of employee contributions, come with access to four or more different health care plans as well as dental/vision, earn 13 days of annual leave (going to 20 at 3 years' experience) and 13 days of sick leave as well as getting the 13 holidays, and in the normal course of things see (at this level) annual merit (step) increases as well as COL adjustments (the latter is dependent on the will of Congress, though). A GS-4, step 1 usually requires one year of general work experience and two years of schooling past high school (no degree required). The pay could always be higher, but if I were someone with those qualifications and no short-term hope of getting more, this is a ladder I'd want to be on. This may not seem all that impressive to tech people used to receiving five figures of stock options a year, but it beats the shit out of basically any other job available to someone with those qualifications.
posted by praemunire at 10:39 AM on January 24 [31 favorites]

Putting that aside, I have friends who've stepped at least temporarily out of the workforce because of caregiving strains, and these are people who are reasonably well off. I can't but imagine that this is a huge strain everywhere.

I left my job during the pandemic for a much better paid one, but for complicated reasons I don't think the salary was pushed up by demand. There's been a lot of turnover at my new job, but the work is seriously impacted by political issues and I think a lot of people were burned out by four years of the prior administration.
posted by praemunire at 10:43 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]

My wife has been a SAHM for 20 years, working a little on the side, and wants to get back to making Real Money off her college degree and previous office experience.

She's interested in finding something that is local and interesting and part-time, and I can't decide if this is the best time ever or the worst time ever to be looking for a plum role. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 10:45 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]

I wonder if a lot of the over-65 folks who died were part/full-time carers for grandchildren/nieces/nephews.

Well, and not only death, but the measures taken to keep them safe have sacrificed a lot of (women's, usually) careers. I know a lot of well-paid, upper-middle-class-by-DC-standards women who have either had to leave entirely or SUBSTANTIALLY scaled down their own ambitions/trajectory because between daycare/school evaporating, grandparents no longer being able to safely cover childcare especially during the pre-vaccine part of the pandemic, and the gender wage gap that exists in most of their marriages, the only option left was...them. And, like, even now with things "reopen" - c'mon. Nobody I work with can keep their kid in daycare more than a couple of days at a shot before it closes for another outbreak. You can't reasonably expect people to work when they have no idea, day to day, if childcare of any kind will be available. And it's always, always, always the mothers that this falls on.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 10:47 AM on January 24 [41 favorites]

I've been looking for work in the past three or so months. My salary requirements are very low with respect to my experience, but I require 100% remote and a maximum of 30 hours a week. Most employers I have gotten as far as an interview with simply cannot fathom why I would want this sort of employment arrangement, and certainly have no intention of agreeing to it. It's like they're from another planet... they feign total confusion that a human being might not want to work five days a week or wouldn't want an unpaid hour commuting to an office every working day.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 10:47 AM on January 24 [19 favorites]

I am trying to hire for a part-time position and administration has decreed that we can't offer more than $10/hr for it. The position hasn't been officially posted yet, but I can't imagine anyone qualified applying for it when they can get $15 at Taco Bell or Dairy Queen or Quik Trip. I'm okay running on a skeleton crew at the moment - although I'm working one ten-hour day just to make sure we stay open for enough hours - but in a month and a half my team has to move an entire small library, and that's not a three-person job. (It's not a four-person job, either, but one does what one must.)

I'm going to embark on my own job search before long, and unfortunately college enrollment has been so badly hit by the pandemic that there just aren't many jobs being posted. Hook me up with one of those high-demand fields!
posted by Jeanne at 10:58 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]

I'm a senior software engineer in a mid-sized company that's technology-adjacent, working in Seattle. We've let go most or all of our Seattle-based contractors in favor of cheaper remote contractors in Toronto. Previously the leadership of the IT org was fairly anti-remote but they've seen that we're at least as productive remotely so are taking advantage of the lower regional rates elsewhere. They'd opened up the office but are now recommending people stay away if possible. (I'd previously been looking forward to coming in for a straight month to "reset" myself but then omicron hit...)

Not looking for a new gig right now because I'm lucky: I like the work I'm doing and my company is generally non-evil.
posted by microscone at 11:00 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]

There is an interesting comment about in an /r/antiwork thread : fired me at the start of the pandemic in order to avoid paying out my earned commissions that would have been due two weeks later. Their reason cited: “at will employment laws”

No severance. No entitlement to commissions from previous quarter as I was not in seat for commission pay day the 15th of the following quarter.

So maybe stop using any part of ?
posted by NoThisIsPatrick at 11:00 AM on January 24 [15 favorites]

As a job seeker: I am looking to make a career change and can't tell if this is the worst or best possible market to do it in. Probably the worst, given that I've not had any bites yet.

I've been in nonprofits for 18 years in mostly business development, getting new strategic initiatives off the ground, digital strategy, and marketing. I'm trying to get out of marketing and into program/project management at a civic tech firm or government agency. I have a master's degree in urban planning and there's so much out there that would feel fulfilling in terms of improving communities, and I'm a quick learner and jack-of-all-trades with a lot to offer.

But a lot of these tech companies application systems don't even let you upload a cover letter, and with titles like "marketing manager" even a hybrid/functional resume is hard to get past any screening systems to a real human who could see that marketing is in fact mostly project management and that I have good experience working on tech-heavy projects. And I have a ton of cross-functional leadership experience.

I don't know if this career change is a pipe dream, and I'm working my network as best I can but it's hard when I have to be hush-hush about it on places like LinkedIn because half my company follows me there. Had to lock my public Twitter and soft block some work people just to talk about it more freely. And everyone is so tired and overwhelmed with everything right now, it's hard to get second degree connections to agree to informational interviews or casual conversations. I can't blame them - not sure I'd have the capacity to talk to a stranger about their career goals right now!

On the hiring side: it's dire in the nonprofit world. We are down a net ~20 people over the last two years due to layoffs, resignations, and retirements. My team went through a re-org where my boss now is the director of three other teams in addition to ours, so I was given essentially what was her entire job just leading marketing but with no actual promotion ($/title). And then two of my staff left, which was in the works before the reorg, because my boss isn't the best boss in a lot of ways.

I'm literally the only marketer left, with only a graphic designer and an outside agency on retainer to do the work of what should be at least 4-5 people. I tried to hire someone last year and couldn't get higher ups to change the garbage salary range and ended up not hiring anyone! Applicants can sniff out when you're asking for manager level work but trying to call it an associate position to keep the salary low. It was embarrassing as the hiring manager and public face of the job opening, but I had no power.

Morale among those remaining is at a crisis point as more and more people leave and the C-suite have their secret closed door meetings and add new huge projects/initiatives onto the plates of a rapidly shrinking workforce. High performers are punished with added responsibility and relative pennies in additional compensation. It's a disaster right now and it's gonna take a lot of effort to turn things around. But the C-suite thinks that forcing everyone back into the office Tuesdays and Thursdays will magically turn the morale issue around, and are looking into hiring a consultant to deal with the HR/staffing issues I guess?
posted by misskaz at 11:18 AM on January 24 [14 favorites]

I still can't believe that the NYT ran over 1,500 words on why people might be quitting jobs or charging careers right now and did not bother to mention, you know, the deaths.

Yup. And the knock-on effect of everyone thinking about that. I used to be a teacher. It was hard: low pay, long hours, too much bullshit from administration and some parents. But there was good in there that made it worthwhile.

But when you have a job that isn't great but is do-able, and then you add in "oh also doing this job might kill you, and/or cause you to carry a disease home to your loved ones that might kill them" then all of a sudden, it's not worth it any more. If I was still teaching in 2020, I would have noped out of there so goddamn fast and found any work-from-home job. The pay couldn't have been much less than I was getting, and would have certainly been less stressful.
posted by nushustu at 11:29 AM on January 24 [27 favorites]

So, uh, do any of you greybeard developers who are having trouble finding decent roles want to come work with me, a fellow Old, in a not-super-glamorous but stable and reasonably-paced remote role as a Java/Kotlin dev? MeMail me, I guess!

Whatever he's offering you, we can probably double it. 😈
posted by pwnguin at 11:34 AM on January 24 [14 favorites]

I'm in Western Canada. I'm not sure how the psychology of it works, but the pandemic made me less afraid to take a risk and find a new job. I'm a software developer who left a local employer (they weren't paying fairly) and got a huge raise with another company not head-quartered in my province. My old employer had decided to go remote. I still talk to my old colleagues and they seem no more/less happy than they were before. My new employer is (obviously) remote.

I can see by now that this new job is not a long term solution for me; they hired me for one stack and then put me on another. I'm losing skills, I'm not learning much and I feel like an anonymous contractor. But with the perks of the extra money and the remote thing making momming my kids cheaper (no need for after-school care) and less exhausting (no more commute and social-anxiety exhaustion) - I suppose I'll stick with this for now. I don't know where to go from here, but I'm certainly very lucky.
posted by kitcat at 11:40 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]

My spouse has a journalism degree. She was a newspaper editor for a while, but lost that when she moved back home because her mom was sick and asked her to (spoiler: her mom wasn't really that sick and she has two younger siblings). Journalism jobs are apparently very dependent on nepotism or having local connections (through going through the local journalism school for instance), and also editors are less in demand than they once were, and also journalism jobs basically suck ass anymore thanks to venture capitalism and the Trump era etc.

She worked as a library assistant for many years. But she quit about a year ago because she was tired of management getting progressively dumber and more political.

She got a job at a Goodwill warehouse, ostensibly running their disc cleaning machines, which she was the expert at in her library branch. But one of the supervisors took an immediate, day zero dislike to her. They've got her doing heavier warehouse work, among younger and fitter and non-rheumatoid-arthritis-suffering people with internalized masochism (e.g. sitting a chair while you're on the job means you're lazy) and she just can't handle it. It seems like a distinct lack of goodwill at that Goodwill. Anyway, she quit and this is her last week.

We figured out that we were spending almost as much on food delivery as she was earning anyway. Despite neither of us being any kind of gender essentialists or believing that some things are supposed to be "women's work," she's going to basically be a stay-at-home housewife.
posted by Foosnark at 11:43 AM on January 24 [12 favorites]

At my company, engineers before the pandemic: I hate people, I want to work from home in my man cave always. Engineers now: Hi everyone!! Good to see you! How are you? What’s new? How ‘bout them Red Sox?
posted by Melismata at 11:44 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]

Are you saying because a significant portion of working age people actually died (deaths among working age people are about 0.1% which is a lot in many ways, but probably not that significant in terms of labour supply) or because Covid has caused people to rethink their working conditions?

Yes and also yes. The rate of death among working-age people increased significantly and those deaths weren't equally distributed. Essential and front-line workers died, were disabled, got sick and are recovering, are sick, and are burning out at a disproportionate rate compared to people working from home, which is concentrating workforce shortages in particular industries and overloading anyone who's still on the job.

Those deaths mean that millions of people and entire communities are mourning family, friends, and neighbors, and trying to cope with a years-long mass traumatic event that keeps hammering home that life is short and unpredictable. It's the sort of thing that would have people reevaluating their priorities even if they weren't also weighing the risk their job poses to their health and that of the people around them, or navigating childcare needs that shift on a daily basis, or serving as a caregiver for someone who's vulnerable, or dealing with isolation, or trying to cover for a department in which 40% of people are out with COVID.

And that's not to mention the political and social upheavals that have accompanied all of the above, or lagging compensation and inflation.

"Quitagion" erases all of that, reducing mass departures to a fad. It also conveniently glosses over working conditions created by employers. That company that hired Broadway actors to sing on conference calls? It was abruptly sold to WeWork right before WeWork's spectacular implosion. The founder had to buy the company back just before 2020, so employees were already coping with that instability when the pandemic hit. I'm guessing that might do more to explain elevated departure rates over the past two years than "quitagion" does.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:45 AM on January 24 [33 favorites]

I'm a senior developer, in a job that I like and pays pretty well, that gets blind contacts from recruiters at least 1-2 times a week.

I always entertain them and say "sure, I'll look over what you have. Send me a job description and a salary range."

20% of the time I get a job description, 0% of the time do I get a salary. All I can think is "man, you're trying to entice me away from a job I'm currently working and all you have to offer is a shitty half-page Word doc you scraped from the internal job board. And you didn't even do that well since you left enough hints in the description that I figured out who the company is". So thanks, but nah.

The best one this week was the job description that mentions candidates must have "a positive attitude". Well, you don't need to tell me twice that the current shop is a black hole for employee morale. Thanks, but nah.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:47 AM on January 24 [29 favorites]

I don't want hands on programming roles in general, but I'm especially turned off by the ones that seem to expect that you be excited about doing the job. I stopped getting excited about solving problems with software around the third time I had to solve the same problem I'd already solved for another company or two, only I couldn't just copy and paste my own old code and move on. Not only do I not love writing code anymore, I don't even like it that much.
posted by fedward at 11:52 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]

20% of the time I get a job description, 0% of the time do I get a salary.

Yeah, this. I'm pretty comfortable where I am--I could be earning 30% or so somewhere else, but the relatively relaxed pace and good coworkers are pretty huge pluses, so I'm pretty stable--but I also get feelers from recruiters pretty regularly.

The number of times I get a salary mentioned is going up, but it's still rare enough that I notice it when it happens.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:52 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]

One other note for my situation: my mostly-remote "office" has had no deaths due to COVID-19 illness, however we've had two deaths by suicide in the past 6 months. I didn't know either person well, but they both were pretty high-performing and the company is fairly congenial, so I (in absence of other information) attribute it to cumulative stress/fatigue of pandemic+lockdown. Its led me to reassess my own state and take measures to mitigate my own risk level.
posted by microscone at 12:02 PM on January 24 [23 favorites]

That's awful, microscone. What tragedies. I hope you're all getting the support you need.
posted by fedward at 12:04 PM on January 24 [13 favorites]

I got lucky and got into the CX/UX/XM world when it was still kind of a developing thing, which apparently makes my late 40s ass very in demand at the moment. Got hit up by a recruiter who I told point blank I was very happy where I am, would be unlikely to change jobs at this time, and quoted a fairly obscene comp number where I would start to change my mind. That led to a first interview where I reiterated this, and spent most of the call interviewing the person I'd be working for rather than the other way around. And on Wednesday, I have a third round of interviews with the company, which given everything else so far, could very well lead to an offer. It's honestly a little baffling: I'm basically using a complete lack of stakes for me to try making the opposite of the choices I usually make in these processes, and getting as good or better results.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:33 PM on January 24 [12 favorites]

So sorry, microscone. Damn.

I'm especially turned off by the ones that seem to expect that you be excited about doing the job

Reminds me of a David Mitchell bit (the British comedian, not the other one)-
The thing that really seems unfair to me is the number of people who are expected to pretend they care about jobs they don't care about. You should be allowed to say look, I'm fulfilling my contract, you can't put in the contract, "also you have to seem like you give a shit." ...I really like the fact that we live in a country with such poor customer service. I've got respect for that. This is a horrible train, you're tearing tickets, of course you're in an awful mood.
posted by Glinn at 12:46 PM on January 24 [11 favorites]

I'm basically using a complete lack of stakes for me to try making the opposite of the choices I usually make in these processes, and getting as good or better results.

I've always had the best interviews when I knew I could walk away at any moment. I'm convinced that when you walk into the room with this knowledge the hiring company picks up on it as well, consciously or subconsciously.

And then they realize they need to sell you on the role and not vice-versa. It's a crazy thing.
posted by JoeZydeco at 12:59 PM on January 24 [19 favorites]

I'm basically using a complete lack of stakes for me to try making the opposite of the choices I usually make

I've found the same and I'm prepared to bet they're interpreting it as confidence (and, thus by extension, competence?).
posted by aramaic at 12:59 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]

I'm trying to use my ambivalence about a particular FAANG to get them to be better at trying to recruit me, but so far it's not working. Their best chance to offer me a job seems to have been five years ago and they've wasted a lot of my time since then because their insistence on hiring "the best" means a pretty appalling rate of rejections. But they still reach out every couple months. I'm like, why? If you were going to hire me don't you think you'd have done it by now?
posted by fedward at 1:22 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]

Eastern US: I would like a job very much at this point, as I am counting down the months I have left before shit hits the financial fan. I have plopped my resume onto Monster, Indeed and ZipRecruiter, applied at a handful of places that advertised job openings, and so far have gotten only two responses to the latter; one flat "we've selected someone else" and one kind person who inquired about experience with a specific instructional-design program, which I did not have. (I am on the Captivate side of the Captivate/Storyline divide, primarily, so I did not take it personally and thanked her for reaching out.)

I have had a handful of fairly promising feelers over my time off (which started pre-COVID), the majority of which did not bother to tell me that I was no longer under consideration and simply ghosted me instead. I have had 3,948 phone calls from out-of-state employment agencies who want me to take an in-office job hundreds or thousands of miles away, often not anywhere near my field (why, yes, I would LOVE to uproot my wife and I and move to Ear Canal, Montana to become a Sales Representative).

Some say that this is an ideal time to be looking for remote work. I could not disagree more vehemently. Yes, the number of offices that are considering hiring remote workers is climbing due to need, though "Remote until COVID ends" is basically a non-starter unless it's local anyway. But if you are competing for a local in-office job, you are competing against the pool of applicants who find it financially viable to travel there each day. If you are competing for a remote job, you are competing against EVERYBODY with your skillset.

I don't really want to follow up decades of tech writing/ID experience with "Target cashier." But it might become necessary before long.
posted by delfin at 1:26 PM on January 24 [8 favorites]

My agency is trying to hire over a hundred entry-level positions (GS4-6) and are having a hard time trying to fill the positions.
The living wage for here in eastern Mass is $20/hr. GS-4 base rate with local cost adjustments is $17.30/hr.
This is such a big problem across the board in government. The benefits aren’t bad, job security can be great, but there are inconveniences, too, and there are just too many areas where you’re asking someone to take a hefty paycut.

If you wanted to make government work better, a really easy way to do that would be increasing the GS scale something like 30% and more at the lower ends. Here in DC, a GS-6 is going to have a really rough time with housing and there’d be nothing but upside for the economy if that changed.
posted by adamsc at 1:56 PM on January 24 [13 favorites]

I was part of the 2021 Great Resignation and am also going to be in this year's wave. I also did a lot of hiring. A few thoughts of what's changing from my perspective:

(oh, also: male person of color in tech, living in the Northeast US, relatively senior level. I've worked remotely going back to 2013, but have toggled between full remote and full in office jobs before the pandemic made my last two employers full remote. I recognize that what I'm going to write may make me deserving to be put up against a wall when the revolution comes, but I'm mostly offering it as data and context for others who are in a similar niche to me.)

- 2021 was notable because so many tech companies started hiring remotely, and all of these places that I previously dismissed because they required moving to NY or the Bay Area were suddenly in play. It was kind of wild and heady, but also the flip side it was really competitive, because you're also interviewing against others across the country. An ex-colleague said, "it must feel like being a vegetarian and then suddenly the entire country goes all in on plant-based eating, and suddenly you feel like you can eat at any restaurant or order anything from the menu."

"yeah," I said, "except you're also dealing with a bigger applicant pool, so it's also like going from a humble, hole in the wall vegan diner to a hotel buffet where everyone is vieing for the same BeyondShrimp cocktail."

- because of the competitiveness, it's definitely challenging getting noticed. Last year, I applied to 20 places, interviewed at nine, and eight of those interviews were because of a referral. The ones that were essentially a cold submit got crickets.

- of the nine interviews, I got to final rounds with five and offers from two. The three that turned me down were not because I messed up, but were generally something like I scored a 95% grade and someone else got a 97%. A competitor had a little more relevant experience or was an internal applicant who was friendly with the decision makers -- that sort of thing. I don't know if those recruiters were spinning a tale to cushion the blow, but that feedback came off as relatively credible.

- I realize that this was a really privileged and fortunate position to have two really good offers , and I picked the one that was an easier gig because I was burnt out from 2020 and the other job sounded a little too intense for what I wanted, and I still second guess that choice. Now I'm kind of bored, and the job that I took turned out to be a pit of vipers, so I'm moving on but trying to be deliberate because I don't want to be a job hopper.

- big change between 2021 and 2022 is that a bunch of my ex-colleagues from past jobs have also quit and moved on, so now my referral network is four times the size of what it used to be since I know so many more people at different places. So I've applied to 12 places, and have eight interviews. The four that didn't turn into an interview were also cold submits.

- competition is still high, especially for management positions where there's only one role in a company for a Director or Senior Manager.

- needing a referral or some other 'in' (ie. outbound recruiter contact) is still essential this year. The only thing that might help is if you're super early to applying to a position and can get your resume in at the top of a queue before it's buried in an avalanche of submissions. Otherwise, the only way to get noticed is to have a friend pick it out and tell the recruiter to consider you.

- filling out demographic or protected identity data doesn't do anything to actually increase your visibility as most applicant tracking systems hide that data from recruiting managers to reduce bias. They're only used so HR has metrics to track and report against.

- The FAANGs have been pillaging the talent market because their sky-high stock prices allow them to dangle some very tempting comp packages to senior talent. Almost every internal corporate recruiter that I like and respect has been assimilated into Meta. Google and Amazon have been going after colleagues at my company hard, and I have also seen them hollowing out a couple of my prior employers. It feels like another work around to the competitiveness is to go for those feeder companies that are continuously getting their cream skimmed by the Netflixs and Apples of the world, and are desperate to replace their losses.

Oh, yeah, also the fact that you need a referral to get noticed is bullshit, and it further solidifies inequities in our economy since referral networks are not evenly distributed, and I'm not highlighting this as a virtue, but just as signal for others who find themselves struggling to get attention on their application. I struggled a lot in my early career with asking for referrals because I was shy, and because I didn't want my friends or colleagues to feel like our relationships were transactional, but I learned to get over that in order to have anything like a career.
posted by bl1nk at 1:57 PM on January 24 [25 favorites]

I'm prepared to bet they're interpreting it as confidence (and, thus by extension, competence?).

Competence is notoriously hard to measure, so yeah, a lot of hiring managers and HR people use confidence as a rather poor substitute.

The lack of any widespread way of measuring technical competence that's appealing to both companies and candidates is a huge problem in tech, has been for years, and I don't really see this changing any time soon. (There are ways that are appealing to companies but not to candidates—day-long or longer "auditions", "try before you buy" temp-to-hire schemes, ridiculous "homework problems", etc.—but they were barely viable when the labor market was slack, and good candidates are going to rightly laugh at anyone trying them now.)

Even the "top tier" technical companies like Google are notorious for hiring processes that really aren't that good. GOOG rather famously declined to hire Max Howell, the creator of the widely-used-at-Google package manager Homebrew, because he was unable to quickly write an algorithm for inverting a binary tree on a whiteboard. Chris Wanstrath probably dodged a bullet when he was passed over by Yahoo, since he then went on to found Github (and became one of the world's youngest billionaires). Stories like this are common enough that they have their own dedicated website.

The major problem with using confidence as a heuristic for competence is that it leads you directly into the Dunning-Kruger "Death Valley", where people know just enough about a thing to think they're competent, when they really aren't. Also, it leads to hiring con artists who sap time and energy to get rid of later, and it unfairly penalizes women (who, broadly, aren't socially conditioned to fake-project confidence in the way many men are), people with social anxieties, autism, etc.

FWIW, if you want to get hired as a coder, it really helps if you have a Github (or Gitlab) profile with some actual code to look at. When I've interviewed people, I've always much preferred to have someone talk through code they've written (regardless of language or what it does—I had a really impressive candidate bring in a bunch of art projects written in Processing), than do some bullshit whiteboard or blank-page exercise that basically only tests your ability to memorize and regurgitate syntax and data structures.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:13 PM on January 24 [18 favorites]

I work for a tech company that has been notoriously stubborn about allowing remote work, historically. Over the past few years I'd been steadily trying to convince management to allow me to work from a satellite office closer to family, but the great WFH-ification over covid has effectively made that impossible - instead of considering each case individually, HR now has a blanket "no" policy for anyone below Senior Director due to the sheer number of requests. I will probably end up leaving in the next six months because of this ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by btfreek at 2:33 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]

If I were more confident in finding remote work as needed, I'd move some where cheaper, and actually buy a house. Alas.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 2:36 PM on January 24

Oh, yeah, also the fact that you need a referral to get noticed is bullshit, and it further solidifies inequities in our economy since referral networks are not evenly distributed

That’s an incredibly euphemistic way of describing one way “culture fit” is perpetuated.
posted by fedward at 2:38 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]

This is such a big problem across the board in government. The benefits aren’t bad, job security can be great, but there are inconveniences, too, and there are just too many areas where you’re asking someone to take a hefty paycut.

We're having "the usual" amount of trouble hiring GS-2 to 6. You think GS-4 is bad, get a load of the GS-2 hourly rate. But I have pretty good success selling the "yeah but what other company can promise a grade increase a year, topping out at [points to GS-11], meaningful eligibility for [points to GS-12], plus all the overtime you want (and some you don't)".

Where I can't get an applicant is at GS-12. I have tons of workers and few supervisors, which makes the ones I have seem incredibly over-worked (which they are), which means anyone who sees that won't apply.

And none of them can telework, so that's un-attractive as well.
posted by ctmf at 3:14 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]

I work in a nonprofit in the Northeastern US and as far as I'm concerned, I see zero 'hot job market' signals.

I have been job hunting off and on since Feb 2020 and the most traction I got by quite a bit was in early fall of 2020. Recently, I can't even find much I want to apply to, in person or remote.

We recently posted for the position I started at in fall of 2020 and I took a peek at the applicant pool-- there is no way I would have been hired if I had been up against these people 15 months ago.
posted by geegollygosh at 3:27 PM on January 24 [5 favorites]

Architect here. My firm has been getting bled dry of our best managers not by other design firms, but by our own clients, as they realize that management is a somewhat generalizable skill and that architects are also generally underpaid. We’ve lost about 20% of our office thus far since the start of Covid.
posted by q*ben at 4:00 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]

I've been job-hunting for a remote position as a Data Scientist with a Ph.D. in hand and nearly 10 years experience for 3 months now, and I've gotten one callback. I'm applying to jobs that only require a bachelor's degree in many cases, and I have plenty of experience, but I'm not even getting looked at.

I'm due for my third interview with the one callback tomorrow and I'm praying I get it even though the pay is very much under market because I am just not getting bites. I am pretty sure that it isn't me - it feels like I need an "in" from somebody in the industry, so basically what fedward said.

So, uh, I guess if any of you have employers that are looking for Data Scientists or Data Analysts, hit me up?
posted by zug at 4:09 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]

Alison Green (of askamanager):
Ultimately, though, too many companies have become used to not having to pay competitive wages, offer attractive benefits, or generally treat people well. Now that that’s changed, some of them are finding it easier to complain about the labor market than to figure out how to make themselves a place people would be eager to work even when they have other options.

It’s unclear how long this moment will last and whether it will be long enough for more companies to be forced to alter their mindsets—but the longer it does last, and the more accustomed we get to these changes, the better off workers will be.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 4:24 PM on January 24 [21 favorites]

Midwest, academic administration. I’m happy where I am but have had half an eye on job listings now that fully remote offers are getting more normalized. I might consider a jump for exactly the right position and a significant pay bump. But I’m not interested in beginning a hiring process unless I know from the beginning that fully remote is a an option and the listing has a salary range, and few listings have both. So I’m just window shopping, at the moment.

My department has been sensible, humane, and safe during the pandemic, found money for a bonus for me for going above and beyond during All Of This, and has generally earned a significant amount of goodwill from me. No one else has left, either. Meanwhile a related department under the same upper management has tried to push everyone back into the office and as a direct result has lost a lot of its staff to fully remote jobs elsewhere. I cannot help but wonder if the upper management has noticed the difference and found it instructive.
posted by Stacey at 4:31 PM on January 24 [6 favorites]

I haven’t for sure been shown the door because of my age, but I have definitely been shown the door and been made to sign a waiver of my EEOC rights on the way out as a condition of getting my severance. I honestly didn’t think it was that until I saw that paper. Fortunately I’m working at a much less toxic company these days, but even at that there is some oddness at the deep end of the experience pool that makes me suspect companies just don’t know what to do with people within sight of retirement.

In my own case, there is a relentless and admirable focus on helping the younger engineers grow their careers in their desired direction, like almost every manager in the company started out in a junior technical role. You’d expect someone my age to be odd man out in that environment, but it hasn’t been that way. Great as that is, it’s a little weird being asked on every self-evaluation where I’d like to be in five years and the real answer is always, “my financial guy needs to be a part of that conversation.” In fact, I care a lot more about having that conversation with my financial guy than with my boss at this point. Being asked to describe how I’d like to grow my career is strange when I like what I’m doing and how much I’m being paid, and the road ahead no longer looks endless. I honestly don’t feel like general contentment is a ding on my character or level of engagement at this point.

But that’s like an anodyne variation of the “up-or-out” mentality I’ve seen and experienced elsewhere, and it puts me in mind of a much more toxic ageism I’ve seen elsewhere: quite frankly, a lot of the tricks abusive managers use to manipulate younger workers don’t translate well for older ones, and it upends their playbook. Young workers are competitive with one another, they have relatively limitless energy and little to lose, and most importantly they think of themselves as low-level, with the insecurity that implies. You can tell younger workers they’re easily replaceable and it might even be true. You can tell them that working unpaid overtime is “investing in their own future,” which is always a lie, but for older workers the future is now. One of the main things we earn with age, independent of career, is self-respect and a nuanced perspective on what’s actually worth giving a fuck about. That’s exactly the thing that doesn’t fly in a lot of bad workplaces. You can tout the benefits of age diversity all you want, but it’ll never sink in at companies that fundamentally want fungible serfs they can mistreat and underpay without consequence. That variety of ageism is just a symptom of a much more horrible condition that many American employers have gotten far too comfortable with.
posted by gelfin at 4:37 PM on January 24 [28 favorites]

Ask A Manager is interesting today. Particularly this comment, which put me in a rage for the poor poster.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:00 PM on January 24 [8 favorites]

The tech company I work for realized that working from home during 2020 didn't slow them down at all and since has been hiring remote workers from all other the country. At this point, there's almost 2x as many employees as could fit in the HQ building at one time. We're a hardware manufacturer so there's a percent of people involved in assembly and testing that need to be on prem but the rest of us never go in and I frankly don't even know where a lot of my co-workers live. Not working in an office has improved my life so much; I didn't realize how stressful office life was until I didn't have to go in any more.
posted by octothorpe at 5:06 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]

Being asked to describe how I’d like to grow my career is strange when I like what I’m doing and how much I’m being paid, and the road ahead no longer looks endless.

For years, my second-level boss (the one I did my performance reviews with) always asked, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" And my answer was always "Right here. I like what I do. I'm always learning new techniques, new applications, new ways for us to process information and package training. This job evolves, and the only non-lateral step up from it is [first level boss's position], which she will happily tell both you and me is a frothing death cauldron on any given day. Four other writers tried that job and failed and quit in months before [current] succeeded in it."

And she was satisfied by that, and we carried on. Unfortunately, that boss left, new bosses came in and the bean-counters made their presence known.
posted by delfin at 6:00 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]

Small company, have been trying to hire an SEO Specialist. We allow people to work from home and have great benefits and competitive pay (I thought). We've had few applicants, by and large they have few skills and every. single. one. has a glaring error on their resume. Often many errors. I am wondering if all of the good people got scooped up by tech companies.
posted by rednikki at 6:02 PM on January 24

Frankly, I’ve had a similar experience to b1ink, I flipped jobs for half the responsibility, higher rank, and a dramatic increase in compensation a few months ago, and although the job hunt did take a solid 8+ months; I’ve have the privilege of extremely good luck and timing, as well as being in a growing sector of my of my industry. the company I joined realized they were competing with big tech, started paying more and being crystal clear about expectations for return to office right as I was in the middle of the process. We’ve hired a ton of older employees in tech adjacent roles because that’s where we need the expertise (and finance does have an ageism component, but it doesn’t seem as bad as tech?) There is of course the downside of working for a financial service company at the hours it entails… I’ve seen so many of my former colleagues move to different places and I’ve been excited for them. I also feel for those who haven’t been able to move or haven’t gotten the jobs that they are looking for.

For amongst my white collar male friends, or women without children , it does feel like a large reshuffle the last few months, nearly every week I hear of someone who has shifted roles or moved into a new space. But it’s not rosy for everyone. Women with children have it harder, I know a handful (and one guy) that have had to step back (or out of) in their careers because of childcare- especially if you have an under 5 year old, and daycare availability is a complete crap shoot. Pregnancy is fraught, and while work from home has made it easier for some to manage a difficult pregnancy, or to ease back in after maternity leave, integrating back into this pandemic world with an infant is just so so so hard. Amongst folks in service industry, well nearly everyone has moved out of that space, some into office roles they never imagined themselves working; and frankly that angle doesn’t get talked about much, the shifts in labor/types of labor people are doing.

I’m sorry the job hunt isn’t working out for so many of you, and I genuinely wish you luck.
posted by larthegreat at 6:25 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]

This month, I left my job doing data work with the state of New Mexico, for a new job now doing political data work.

I put out about half a dozen applications and got one bite, but I am happy with it.

My new job is fully remote for a national company. I wouldn't have looked for a remote job, if not for the pandemic. But this company was remote well before covid.
posted by NotLost at 6:55 PM on January 24

USA Midwest here. Left corporate to get a job doing . I was excited about the change of pace and enjoyed the work, but. The listing indicated I'd be working 6 days a week, which was a lie. I figured I could handle the drop in pay and the hard work, but 7 days a week? On *checks notes* $19/hourly? I can't even meal prep to save $$ with that. Jesus. I was out of there. I'm really struggling with how much I liked that job and how much it would have destroyed me if I kept at it.

I've been sending out my resume with only one bite so far. Agree with an earlier commenter - it seems like recruiters are looking for an exact fit instead of finding someone who can reasonably pick up what you need. ...Which I get from a recruiting perspective, you want to try to match A to A, B to B, etc., and I don't know if this holds true in other industries, but in tech? There's google, you talk to people, you spend some time trial-and-erroring, you get it done. IMO at least, it's better to ask good questions and be comfortable researching and trying for results, rather than knowing the alphabet.

That's a hard thing to translate into "I'm a good bet, hire me" than actually knowing the alphabet, though. Que sera sera.

So hey, if anybody's in the market for a remote tech analyst, you know where to memail me.

posted by snerson at 8:08 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]

Midwest, software developer, mid 40s.

In Fall 2019 I left a long-time full-time local job to work remotely for Adafruit, a New York based maker / open source hardware company, primarily on CircuitPython. It's actually a contract position but work has been steady yet flexible. I asked for half time and warned of lengthy, extravagant vacations. Well, due to COVID it's been more like 25-30 hours a week consistently because what else are you going to do with your time?

Getting the position was (I think) a combination of a good github portfolio, a couple of connections that started online and were firmed up by traveling to meet folks (one trip to a Python conference specifically to try to find job leads, one related to my spouse's work), and some initial project-based contract work. The fact that I was comfortable on much less than full time probably made it easier for everyone, so my households's savings were yet another piece of privilege that helped me land where I am.

Working on open source is particularly gratifying for me, and every week brings new and interesting challenges where I get to lay ground work for folks to make beautiful and cool projects. I hope to be doing it for years to come.

Coming to terms with deciding to leave my previous job of 20 years (my only real professional job) was quite a rollercoaster, because like any long term relationship I was quite emotionally invested in it and to a great extent defined myself relative to it. I had imagined working it until I retired. But the place had changed while I wasn't paying attention. And then, like an idiot, even after I had this epiphany and then a crying fit about needing to quit / change jobs, while sitting on a chair in the hallway of a Python conference, I still worked at the damn place another 4 months instead of giving my notice immediately.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 8:34 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]

Mountain West region of the U.S., public librarian.

Covid has placed more pressure on public library staff to act as a social service safety net that we are not equipped nor trained to do. We see more people experiencing distress on a daily basis. We are yelled at daily for enforcing mask mandates. There is even more of a rift between management, who gets to work from home, and front-line workers, who are being asked to risk their health. Everyone is tired, disillusioned, and basically ready to mutiny. Staff are definitely leaving in high numbers, and I hope to join them soon.
posted by sugarbomb at 9:44 PM on January 24 [13 favorites]

I’m in London UK. I got my job, a father ten years as a SAHM in October 2020. Since then our team has expanded to take on four new positions (editing) across three countries. For every position we have advertised over the past 12 months we have had lots of applicants, many of them over qualified. While we are currently hybrid the positions were advertised as office based and it was stressed to applicants that there was a chance that in future we will move to being 100% office based. No one pulled out because of that.

So I guess it depends on your industry - we are finding it difficult to find designers who are willing to work in the office rather than remotely.
posted by Megami at 11:08 PM on January 24

Midwest , mid 30's social work. I've been doing social work in healthcare, which is this weird little world that is under recognized as a part of the healthcare industry. Some of the work can be done remote, some can't.

The hospital I work for decided fairly early on there would be no remote social work (other hospitals made different choices about this) . One of my coworkers worked from her car on the company wifi for a bit until she found something else, but she had a discharge planning position that really could have been done remotely, my position is much more clinical and I really don't think my position could be remote. We lost a few staff to vaccination mandates. We are very understaffed and have been for quite some time. There is the healthcare work things such as overtime, weekend work, holidays and such that make working in healthcare less than ideal for many people even in non pandemic times. We weren't given pandemic pay bumps even when working with Covid patients in person. We are suppose to be getting a bonus, but it may or may not ever come I have no idea. Im fairly exhausted by this stuff. Morale is very very low.

With a LCSW the telehealth options have made moving into private practice telehealth fairly easy and have radically changed job prospects for people newly licensed or even mid career. Also therapy services are in high demand because well,
everything. The rates are way way above what I'm making now, but there's the tax and health insurance component to that so I'm too nervous to make that jump at this time, even if that was work I wanted to do. Even agency based therapy practices with billing departments and benefits are making so much more than what I do right now.

I do know a few therapists who will never go back to face to face therapy.

I'm not sure there has been a mass exodus from social work, but there is a pretty large wage gap that's keeping LCSW from taking clinical work that isn't providing counseling services right now. I've heard lots of stuff about treatment centers and nursing homes that is just not good about pandemic responses, and many people in my industry are staying far far far away from that. Non profits generally rely on newly graduated students who need clinical hours to fill their positions, and I'm not super sure how they are doing overall. I think that remote work really impacted people's internships and graduate school training, coming into the field. Im sure that nonprofits are discovering that they need a little more training or adjustment to their work.
posted by AlexiaSky at 11:17 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]

I think a couple of commenters in that AskAManager column jenfullmoon linked to are onto something:
January 24, 2022 at 2:04 pm
It’s becoming increasingly clear that long-time many-hat-wearers are leaving their companies. And now companies are having to find the unicorns, like the one they created by piling on more and more responsibility onto a single person over the years. Now, when that person leaves, they’ve got the equivalent of 3 empty roles, but they’ve grown accustomed to having just one person filling all those roles.

January 24, 2022 at 2:33 pm
So true. And they’ve usually underpaid that person with the 3 major roles, so they’re bleating in pain when faced with the fact that replacing that one long-suffering person will cost them 6 times more. Thoughts and prayers
posted by soundguy99 at 5:34 AM on January 25 [29 favorites]

I started a new IT job at a local hospital in August after far too long spent back-of-house in an IT-adjacent rôle supporting those selling tchotchkes . My salary quite literally more than doubled, the people I work with are fantastic, and it feels good to actually do something that is useful.

But!—Our hospital's weekly email of jobs needed filling is eleven pages long.

Single spaced.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 6:06 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]

Texas here, and I work in HR & Benefits. I've been in my current role for the past three years, and was approached by a recruiter two weeks ago about a role that's more in line with my expertise and prior experience. The work culture where I am is slowly getting more and more toxic as they try to do more with less, so I took the interview. If you'd asked me a year ago, I wouldn't have even entertained the idea.

Instead, I have my third interview with newcompany today. I'm super lucky, and even if this falls through, I've enjoyed the opportunity.
posted by Torosaurus at 6:12 AM on January 25

Midwest, market research, mid-40s.

After 14 years with the same company (kinda... we'd been acquired twice since 2018, once happily and then once significantly less happily), my first day with a new company was yesterday. My old team had been hemorrhaging staff for the past 18 months and was having a hard time replacing them successfully--we had folks quit after six months, long timers like me who either left for other jobs or just left, and a few who accepted the job but never even started. That all seems unusual, or at least the timetable for all of that happening seems unusually compressed.

I got very lucky with my job change, since my skill set is specialized. I'd been turning down conversations with recruiters for a year, because I knew that a lot of the jobs they were looking to fill demanded a different toolkit than the one that I have. But I happened to get fed up with my company three days before a recruiter called me with a job that was an absolutely perfect fit and I thought, "Well, it couldn't hurt to talk to them." Ten weeks later, here I am in a new role.

Some parts of my industry have been inching toward a remote model for years, but the pandemic shoved everyone over the cliff. I now work for a company that's based in CA, but I'm part of a fully distributed team, with colleagues all over the country. With the change, I got a nice pay bump, better benefits, and the promise of a more reasonable workload (we'll see how that plays out).

I'm very aware of how fortunate I am. Hoping that this thread connects some job seekers with some folks looking to fill roles!
posted by merriment at 6:20 AM on January 25

I think the companies experiencing the "great resignation" right now are luckier than they realize. My company, when confronted about losing over 25% off our staff in 2 years, chalked it all up to better paying jobs just falling in people's laps. A C-suite person said to me in an email that "the salary bubble will burst eventually."

What they don't seem to realize is that for most of us in IC or middle management roles, especially outside of software/tech, jobs DON'T just fall in our laps. A well meaning software development friend told me "just turn on the 'open to work' setting on LinkedIn" and like... that is not how it works for people who aren't developers LOL. Like I haven't had that setting on for months.

It takes dogged, determined effort to find a new job, and it is exhausting. And as many of the comments in this thread have made clear - yes there are a lot of openings out there, but there are also so many people looking that the competition is still really stiff! I honestly think that the only reason my org's turnover isn't worse is those of us left are too tired to put a full throttle effort into the job search. I'm trying, but I have maybe 2 good job search days out of 10. My enthusiasm, energy, and even confidence in myself and my abilities has been absolutely drained and fluctuate wildly from day to day and even hour to hour.

Good luck to everyone trying to find better, more humane, and more livable work.
posted by misskaz at 6:37 AM on January 25 [11 favorites]

If anybody knows of a job for a senior/intermediate draftsman/CAD designer/mechanical designer/insert-your-preferred-description-here in southern Ontario, please MeMail me. I know somebody who needs to change jobs and get out of a place that is spiralling into an absolute mess but nobody seems to be hiring for those kinds of positions and the jobs that are out there pay peanuts.
posted by sardonyx at 6:56 AM on January 25

My company, when confronted about losing over 25% off our staff in 2 years, chalked it all up to better paying jobs just falling in people's laps.

We're getting that line too. People are leaving because of our chaos (we've been in a constant reorg for years), being understaffed, and deeply entrenched silos limiting internal movement. But all we hear is 'the great resignation', which gets them off the hook.

As far as hiring goes I'm trying to hire for our team but the actual HR team is understaffed so they have a three-week backlog on addressing applications. I'm just praying my favored candidate for the role doesn't find something else before I can ask him to take the job.
posted by winna at 7:58 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]

Working in tech, staff turnover is just a fact of life. People are constantly coming and going and then sometimes coming back.
posted by octothorpe at 8:08 AM on January 25

Childcare industry here (NE OH), so somewhat different than other posters. We can't work remote. We get paid peanuts to begin with. Many many many centers closed because of the pandemic. Ours is hanging on so far. We got 4 quarters worth of "Hero's Pay". No information on whether or not that will continue. My guess is no.

Nobody is looking for work in childcare, given the low pay, nonexistent or limited benefits, disease exposure, paperwork* etc. We hired one young woman who quit a couple of week in. We've lost three other teachers in the last 4 months.

When I was still reading one of the childcare groups on FB, people could not get people. People would apply and then not show up for interviews. Would start and quit.

I've often thought about jumping ship. But I love my job and for the most part love my center. I have great flexibility in being able to take time off if needed. I've been able to keep a part time schedule. For me, the unknown is worse than the known because there are so many toxic centers out there.
posted by kathrynm at 8:17 AM on January 25 [9 favorites]

Non-tenure track professor here. The job market for higher ed jobs was pretty bad pre-COVID, there were no jobs last year, this year is a bit better but by no means a full rebound (plus there are more people applying- one job I applied to, in a fairly niche field, got over 100 applications).

For obvious reasons, COVID plus all the culture war nonsense has made the conditions of labor worse, particularly for those of us teaching subjects that could be tied to the latter.

For a time, people seemed to be hunkered down, but particularly in the past few months, I feel like almost every time I sign onto Twitter there is another "Why I'm leaving Academia" thread - no doubt in part because the algorithm knows me (ugh) but people are leaving, and not just folks at the margins like me, but people on the tenure-track or who are already tenured are leaving their jobs. Often without knowing what is next. I've actually been somewhat surprised to see a number of people in their 50s do this, given the ageism out there and given one always imagines the post-tenure life to be relatively easy, but clearly the last couple of years have made some people snap. I can't blame them.
posted by coffeecat at 8:25 AM on January 25 [5 favorites]

From the perspective of a growing employer of highly-paid employees:

(1) There's a bit of a paradox - while there are a lot of unfilled jobs, there are also a lot of qualified job searchers out there, who have been incentivized to get into the job market by a sense that it's easier to find jobs, plus the remote factor which dramatically increases the people who will apply to any given job, even if it is not expressly advertised as remote

(2) We are heading into a credit tightening cycle to reduce inflation, but there's (historically) a high risk of "overshooting" into recession which could reverse all kinds of shortages into surpluses, including the shortage of labor which is creating the current job market -- I see people making moves that don't make a lot of sense if there's any risk of recession in the next 6 or 12 months

(3) Remote is dangerous to job seekers. No honest employer can guarantee that a job will stay remote, or if it stays remote won't become relatively disadvantaged vs. in-office jobs for pay, promotion, or priority on the layoff list if things go south. I am honest to our candidates about that, but I get the feeling that other employers are not. (We are advertising most of our jobs as "in office" even if we intend to permit employees to work from home most or all the time for the time being.)
posted by MattD at 8:32 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]

The other day I applied for a job with a bank through I then received an email from the bank inviting me to apply on their site. Where I would need to upload my resume which they already had from indeed, then fill in the application with the same information which is on my resume. I've told them if they need me to put my information into their ATS we can discus a rate.

I'm slowly starting to apply to positions, and I had forgotten how angering the HR input systems are. Clunky and slow, and you often can't look ahead through the various pages to be able to line up everything needed before you start. Reentering manually everything on your resume, plus needing to figure out months and years of long-ago events. I hate it.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:35 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]

(3) Remote is dangerous to job seekers. No honest employer can guarantee that a job will stay remote, or if it stays remote won't become relatively disadvantaged vs. in-office jobs for pay, promotion, or priority on the layoff list if things go south. I am honest to our candidates about that, but I get the feeling that other employers are not. (We are advertising most of our jobs as "in office" even if we intend to permit employees to work from home most or all the time for the time being.)
I've worked at remote-first companies, hybrid companies, and advised in-office companies that shifted to remote work, and agree that it's a gamble for a job seeker, especially a person who's only been remote since the pandemic and is interviewing at a company that also just made the switch this year. When interviewing at companies for remote roles, these are the flag questions that I make sure to ask:

- are all of the managers and the execs of this company distributed or are they working from the same office/city? ("everyone works in a different city" is good. localized leadership cliques are a yellow flag)

- how many people on my team live in the same city vs being distributed? (being the only remote person in a team is a bit of a flag, double-so if you're in a different timezone)

- how do you onboard and welcome new hires? (regular intros at all hands or staff meetings, plus some form of a virtual coffee date circuit are good. leaving it ad hoc can be a worry)

- what are your current return to office plans post COVID? (any talk of a return to pre-COVID norms is a flag. embracing the present situation is good. having plans or being able to do small get togethers or meetups in different cities when it's safe to do so is a nice sign of maturity)

essentially, any signs that show how the company has committed to some kind of remote transformation is good vs remote being something you "permit" employees to do until the pandemic is over.
posted by bl1nk at 9:57 AM on January 25 [13 favorites]

I'm in the midwest as a weird specialty arts job on a university campus. I love my job and the people I work with but my pay is dismal and I would/will have to leave to do any better. I interviewed and got a job that paid a whole lot more, but in a much higher COL area that would mean my standard of living would drop despite the higher salary (and there were other potential red flags) so I declined it. Now I'm wondering what to do, because leaving the only career I've had is scary and I don't really know how to do it or if I even want to. Except...the pay is so bad. So so bad.
posted by PussKillian at 11:23 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]

No honest employer can guarantee that a job will stay remote, or if it stays remote won't become relatively disadvantaged vs. in-office jobs for pay, promotion, or priority on the layoff list if things go south.

The companies where that's true are already kind of showing their true selves during the Great Quit, aren't they? I can't say for certain that things won't return entirely to pre-pandemic "normal" at a lot of companies like that, but what I can say is that they will be competing for candidates with companies that have adapted to the new normal. That effect on the job market will last. If a company offers below-market salaries, either officially or effectively requires office attendance five days a week for stability and/or advancement, or otherwise mismanages its human resources, they're going to have trouble competing for candidates with companies that improve the offer in one or more ways.
posted by fedward at 11:36 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]

From Marketplace: How much of our labor force has been lost to COVID-19? The research quoted here estimates 15% of unfilled jobs are due to long Covid and 3% due to Covid deaths.
posted by ssg at 12:39 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]

"We have reviewed your background and qualifications and find that we do not have an appropriate position for you at this time due to the fact that you seem overqualified. We appreciate your interest."

Sometimes you just can't win. ;) (Though I give them full credit for a quick response and for candor.)
posted by delfin at 12:43 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]

PussKillian, I'm in a similar-ish position also at a university. Solidarity, I think there is a world of reasons why leaving university work is very difficult, regardless of faculty or staff classifications.
posted by mostly vowels at 7:06 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]

I certainly see the appeal of all-remote work, but there are a couple of issues I can see if it were to become widespread, as a worker:

First, it's almost guaranteed to flatten salaries geographically. Trying to adjust salaries by area, when there isn't a lot of internal friction to keep you from living somewhere else (declared or not), isn't going to be sustainable in the long run. Eventually, jobs that are competed nationally are going to converge on a single salary. In some respects, I think this is pretty fair: why shouldn't someone in Peoria get paid the same amount as someone in LA for the same work? Or put differently, why does Peoria get shafted out of that tax base, which would allow them to actually provide some of the services and have some of the amenities of a larger city? Given the fact that political power in the US is disproportionately rural, I wouldn't assume any future laws covering this will be in big coastal cities' favor.

Second, in any organization where you have an office, there's almost certainly going to be an advantage to being local to that office. All of the chance interactions that are the reason people work in offices to begin with, become advantages of an in-office employee over someone remote. There's no telepresence platform that's as good as sitting in a room with someone, and the person in the office is going to be privy to all the after-the-call-ends talk, the lunchtime conversations, the body language and subtle eyerolls and everything else. This may not matter as much to someone mid-career and already established in a track, but it could be a big consideration to a junior person.

Third, it's not entirely clear that "all-remote", as a model, competes well with the traditional centralized, urban office. The thing with COVID is that it's affected almost everyone. And where there have been basically industry-wide shifts to remote work, it's mostly cancelled out between companies. So we don't really know what happens if parts of an industry shift back, and others stay remote.

I have so far resisted the temptation to sell my overpriced fractional acre in suburbia in favor of a off-the-grid cabin somewhere with less pollen, because I'm personally too risk-averse. But I definitely know people who have packed up and headed (sometimes literally) for the hills, taking their big-city salaries with them and getting what appears to be a very sweet deal.

It's going to be really interesting to see how everything plays out.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:41 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]

First, it's almost guaranteed to flatten salaries geographically.

If it does, it will also lead a flattening of property values and rents which is ultimately driven by (and drives) that disparity in compensation.
posted by atrazine at 7:52 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]

As a side-note, I'm kind of fascinated as to the future of office buildings and central business districts. The downtown neighborhood in my city is still mostly a ghost-town during the day as a huge percentage of office workers are working from home and not commuting downtown. Two office buildings just went up for sheriff's sale because the owners have defaulted due to a lack of tenants. There's a lot of talk about converting more offices to apartments but a lot of buildings don't really lend themselves to that kind of conversion due to the lack of interior windows. It's going to be a long process but I wonder how this shakes out.
posted by octothorpe at 8:23 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]

First, it's almost guaranteed to flatten salaries geographically. Trying to adjust salaries by area, when there isn't a lot of internal friction to keep you from living somewhere else (declared or not), isn't going to be sustainable in the long run. Eventually, jobs that are competed nationally are going to converge on a single salary.

This is getting a nudge in the right direction from salary transparency laws. After Colorado passed such a law there were some stupid shenanigans from companies that either tried to limit their jobs to people in other states or posted a salary range and said "FOR COLORADO RESIDENTS ONLY" as if the rest of us couldn't just read those numbers anyway. Recently there was a news article in the sidebar on LinkedIn with the headline "are you ready for pay transparency?" It just made me angry. If you're not ready for pay transparency, that means you know you're perpetuating wage inequality. I haven't dug into New York's new law to see if it has sharp enough teeth, but I can't wait for wage inequality to die the painful death it deserves. Pay people what they're worth based on the value they provide, full stop.
posted by fedward at 11:03 AM on January 26

Kadin2048 - I think you bring up a bunch of interesting point about how things may evolve in the future, and I don't want to necessarily come off as REMOTE4EVA absolutist, but maybe to respond to your thoughts and add some nuance:

1. I definitely agree that there's going to be an interesting distribution of salaries around the country as remote work fuels the growth of Rust Belt cities like Columbus and Pittsburgh, as well as places like Boise, ID or Missoula, MT. But as atrazine points out, there's ripple effects with property values. The immediate effect is that there's "Zoomtown" gentrification hitting places like Truckee/Lake Tahoe that's creating a bunch of strife, and that isn't accompanied by a commensurate decline in property values in expensive cities. To be honest, I worry that we're just going to see a form of the housing inequities that have been plaguing coastal cities play out in smaller towns where highly-paid remote enabled white collar folks bid up homes with their massive salaries, and local residents get left out, while coastal real estate still stays expensive as it's continued to be fueled by international and corporate investment. I hope that towns get revitalized by the new tax base, but it's also easy to imagine the national home building companies jumping on this trend as a new growth opportunity and swaying local governments to amplify gentrification for their own profit.

2. Yes - whiteboarding remotely sucks. Yes - Zoom happy hours are terrible. Yes - a game of Kahoot is no replacement for a night of pub trivia. So, yes, there's an advantage to the office, but it's also going to be somewhat limited if your office has transitioned to having a lot of colleagues being distributed. If your manager took advantage of the pandemic to move to another city, and a bunch of your recently hired teammates live in another time zone, and another colleague lives nearby but doesn't want to commute into the office, you're going to be spending a bunch of your days on Zoom anyway. You can't enjoy the advantages of being in an office if your colleagues aren't actually able or willing to go to the office.

3. As far as general competition goes between remote and in-office companies, the reason why companies chose to go remote before the pandemic was largely for cost-savings and talent. If you're a pure software or services company, and you don't need to actually make stuff, why pay rent?

Hiring remotely was also seen as a way to have access to a bonus talent pool over and above what you had locally, but now, for a lot of companies, it's becoming very table stakes. It used to be that if you lived in a big city, you could have access to a large pool, but you also had to deal with Google or Amazon poaching your people, and going remote was a way to get candidates that weren't on your competitor's radar. And if you lived in a small city, hiring remotely was a way to expand the pool of your relatively small local population. But now that it's more normalized, small city employers all now have to compete with Meta or Netflix hiring in their town, and big city employers are finding their own talent pools demanding more flexibility.

Basically the basis for competing for talent has changed because remote work reached a critical mass in our industry, and more places that need to grow or retain people find that they have to meet the demand for remote work. It's no longer a question of all-remote vs all in-office but, like, even if you're committed to having an office, how many employees are you willing to lose if you don't offer some level of remote work support?

I personally like having options and like being in an office when it makes sense, while working from home most of the time. I'm not here to tell anyone whether they should go for a pure remote company and leave the office behind, but I don't think we're going back to purely in-office work setups, and companies that try to do that in industries that have embraced remote work are going to struggle. The genie's already left this particular bottle and we'll just see continued evolution as workplaces figure out what makes sense for them and what their workers are going to demand.
posted by bl1nk at 12:25 PM on January 26 [5 favorites]

My team has hired about 7 people in the past 2 months for roles between $70-150k. NYC tech/retail. Almost everyone we made an offer to immediately asked for $10k increases over the offer, and my VP and COO immediately approved. Our paternity leave just got update in a major way and our 401k matching that went away at the beginning of covid is back and being increased.

We were coming into the office if we felt like it and they added a bunch of amenities, but in mid-December they said everyone should stay home until things calmed down.

HR and management are much more open to permanently remote positions.

I've been at the same place for 10 years with fairly consistent raises and promotions, but as part of this hiring process I recently saw the pay scale for one of the people we hired and I discovered I'm making about $60k less than the mid-range salary for the role one level below me. I hate confrontation but there's a conversation coming with my boss in the very near future that I know they are underpaying me (she had literally told me as much) and that I need to be making more.
posted by elvissa at 3:46 PM on January 26 [10 favorites]

This is what the job market looks like: twenty years ago I worked in the web hosting and colocation department of what was at the time one of the major enterprise ISPs (the company had a global footprint with a tier-1 US network when that term meant something, multiple data centers in the US and in other countries, and so on, but it went bankrupt a few years later as those sorts of companies tended to do). I had a bunch of random responsibilities as part of the "Special Projects" team, which basically meant that we did all the things that didn't rate entire teams of their own. We often built things and handed them off to other teams to operate. We even managed actual data center expansions, when sometimes what that meant was literally putting entire racks of equipment on pallets and shipping them to Santa Clara. Everything I did was data center infrastructure. At least once a week, and usually two or three times a week, I'd give tours of the data center where I had to answer every question about fire suppression, redundant power, cooling, the pros and cons of raised flooring vs overhead cable management, and so on. I knew everything there was to know about how our data centers worked, and that was only a third of my job.

I just applied for a data center infrastructure job and got a very quick rejection. The entire job description is merely a subset of the work I did twenty years ago and they didn't bother with even a screening phone call. Don't fucking tell me you can't find qualified candidates when you reject out of hand somebody who did the actual job you're trying to fill.
posted by fedward at 2:48 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]

Where I work, I've had to sit in on meetings recently about how hard it is to hire and how few applicants positions are getting. But they aren't raising offer salaries or doing anything else to sweeten the pot, so I'm not sure why they think there is going to be a magic solution. (They also aren't raising salaries to retain people, so I'm not sure why they think that will work out any better.)

But it's a microcosm into why despite all the openings it can still be terrible looking for work.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:37 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]

Don't fucking tell me you can't find qualified candidates when you reject out of hand somebody who did the actual job you're trying to fill.

In my experience, going go corporate websites and clicking apply is a great way to waste your time -- I think its one of the allowed options for the "we tried to find domestic workers and failed" criteria for granting H1B's. The one time it led to anything it was a fairly hostile phone screen with HP where two people grilled my resume on experience and ended the call early due to no experience with a specific OpenStack submodule.

It's kind of weird but the more money the company pays to recruit for a position the more likely it is they'll actually read your resume and hire you. Putting another open req in the user hostile careers subdomain is basically free. Which means Indeed, which scrapes those websites, is kind of a waste of time compared to trolling paid recruiters on LinkedIn. Which sucks because LinkedIn deployed every dark pattern known to get to their position, and when they ran out, invented new ones, and it feels wrong to reward that but I guess capitalism corrupts everyone who touches it.
posted by pwnguin at 8:34 PM on January 27

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