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What Now For Twitter and Tech Market Recruitment?

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Employer Branding, Talent Attraction

Twitter's new owner has been handing out the redundancy notices, while elsewhere in the tech sector other notable brands have been doing similar. A real test for their employer brands...

Elon Musk’s well-publicised $44bn takeover of Twitter has been at best eventful and at worst, chaotic since the start.

Laying off half the workforce, and a botched attempt to add more authenticity to its verification system have left commentators and, more crucially for Musk and Twitter, advertisers, scratching their heads at what is going on.

Musk’s less than reassuring statement that there may be “dumb things” happening as he seeks to transform the company will have convinced no-one that the firm is in capable hands, least of all the workforce that he has unceremoniously dumped into the job market.

The addition of ‘grey ticks’ to the well-established blue tick verification system and their disappearance just hours later with a tweet from Musk simply saying: “I just killed it”, smacks not only of a lack of direction, planning and foresight, but also unnecessary tampering from its new owner.

There’s no denying that in the tech community in particular, Musk is seen as a no-nonsense, results-driven visionary that dares you to step up to meet his high standards of output and innovation. But even Musk die-hards are questioning his bull in a china shop approach to his new acquisition.

Meanwhile, over at Facebook/Meta, Mark Zuckerberg has announced a huge round of 11,000 job losses. For which he has apologised. "I want to take accountability for these decisions and for how we got here," Zuckerberg wrote in a memo to employees.

He has least shown some humility and offered four months of severance pay to those being made redundant. So, the Meta employer brand will be largely untarnished.

Meanwhile, ride-sharing startup Lyft's cofounders Logan Green and John Zimmer sent a memo to employees on 3rd November announcing 683 job cuts, while payment platform Stripe is laying off 14 per cent of its workforce.

Strong employer branding

In all, it amounts to 15,000 layoffs in the tech sector, creating a competitive landscape for both job candidates and employers alike. Strong and clear employer branding will be required to obtain the services of the best of that talent.

Brian Crane, founder of caller ID software specialist, CallerSmart, thinks the way Musk handled the job cuts may have a long-term effect on its future recruitment: “I don't think Twitter is now a toxic place to work. Interestingly, only employees from specific departments, e.g., marketing & communications, public policy, Ethical AI, and wellness, have been weaned off. But this may cause problems down the road as it can cause difficulties in attracting future talent. Existing employees who were spared the axe will also feel much pressure, and job insecurity will be negatively impacted within Twitter.

“Understandably, there could be quiet quitting en masse within Twitter as employees look for brighter pastures if Elon Musk does not do anything to mitigate the PR damage. I also feel that since this firing trend is happening in most big tech firms, this is an aftershock of recession and rising costs. This release of around 4,000 talented tech workers could be a good sign for other IT firms in that sector to absorb and hire new talent. Competitors will be happy to have some of these new employees.”

Dennis Shirsikov, head of content at real-estate investor Awning, believes while the current situation is muddled, the long term looks more positive for the firm, which will still retain its appeal, at least as a career catalyst employer.

He says: “Twitter’s employer brand will suffer in the short-term but will get stronger in the long-term as a higher level of talent is attracted and retained.

“It was a bloated company in the past and is now leaner and better off. A career at Twitter for most people is a huge step into Big Tech and can set them up for life between compensation, stock options, and prestige.

“The job market for tech workers is always good, so 4,000 additional people may make it harder to find a job for a month or two, but most people will find work quickly.”

Chaos reigns

John Conway, CEO at Astonish Media Group, says: “Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has been predictable in that it has unleashed chaos on the company.

“The firings were rushed. There has been no thought as to who would be let go, other than to make a big visual splash of firings to ‘cut costs’.

“The immediate effect is that Twitter’s new management looks rash and clearly cares about things other than their employees. In fact, a number of terminated employees have been asked to return to the company, saying that their firings were ‘accidental’.

“This destabilization of the workforce does make Twitter a far less appealing employer than it was prior to the acquisition. It absolutely tarnishes the brand. Twitter becomes a workplace that appeals to Musk fans, fans of his new ‘Free Speech’ approach to content moderation which contrary to Musk’s claims otherwise, will turn Twitter into a ‘free for all hellscape’ and people who need their paychecks while they look for other jobs.

“Uncertainty and instability tend to make an employer unappealing to potential employees, and for the foreseeable future, uncertainty and instability are part of the Twitter brand. Potential and already existing litigation may likely add some unflattering details regarding new management practices which may make the situation even less appealing. Twitter has some serious fences to mend with its potential labor force. It is still a player in the market, but one of greatly diminished stature.

“Sadly, the release of 4,000 talented workers on the market may have been something of a windfall for competitors to snatch up talent in the industry, but competitor Meta has announced laying off around 11,000 employees in coming months as well as freeze hiring for the First Quarter of 2023 which will greatly tighten the job market in the sector in the immediate future.”

Dennis Shirsikov, head of content at real-estate investor Awning, believes while the current situation in muddled the long term looks more positive for the firm.

He says: “Twitter’s employer brand will suffer in the short-term but will get stronger in the long-term as a higher level of talent is attracted and retained.“It was a bloated company in the past and is now leaner and better off. A career at Twitter for most people is a huge step into Big Tech and can set them up for life between compensation, stock options, and prestige.

“The job market for tech workers is always good, so 4,000 additional people may make it harder to find a job for a month or two, but most people will find work quickly.”

The tech recruitment sector has been shaken like a snow globe in recent weeks and smart companies should quickly reassess what their offer is to their talent audience.

Elon Musk’s reputation as a hard taskmaster created a clear Give and Get employee value proposition. But there’s no doubt his individual unpredictability is adding a fair amount of uncertainty to both sides of that deal, and that’s a tough position for an employer brand to be in.

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