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How Gov Tech Can Benefit from Big Tech Layoffs

Mounting layoffs in the tech sector could provide opportunities for suppliers of government technology and the agencies they serve to land new — and younger — talent and keep abreast with increasing demand for digital services.

Gov tech companies, along with state and local governments, have a large pool of candidates thanks to workers recently shed in California and elsewhere by Amazon, Google and others. What are the best ways to approach this opportunity?

Mounting layoffs in the tech sector could provide opportunities for suppliers of government technology and the agencies they serve to land new — and younger — talent and keep abreast of increasing demand for digital services.

But hiring those recently shed workers, and retaining those who agree to offers, will present stout challenges even as the gov tech industry is poised for yet another year of growth.

The potential gov tech hiring pool is increasing by tens of thousands as Google, Microsoft, Meta, Salesforce and other private-sector giants slim down as capital becomes more expensive and recession fears persist. Seemingly every other day brings a think piece about the end of the “Big Tech Era” and what that means for all those hired during the industry’s growth spurt.


For some gov tech vendors, those layoffs are a chance to fuel innovation and tighten up hiring and recruitment.

That includes procurement marketplace Pavilion, which recently launched new search features after raising $22 million in Series A financing.

“In the last few months, we’ve brought on top talent from companies like Airbnb, Meta and Snap,” Mariel Reed, co-founder and CEO of Pavilion, told Government Technology. “While we’re increasing our hiring momentum partially due to recent layoffs, we’ve always attracted talent from top tech companies.”

In the last three months, Reed said, email outreach response rates have increased to 40 percent from 22 percent. The time it takes to “close a candidate for a given role” has declined by nearly 20 percent, as well.

“Building a team with experience from both the public sector and tech innovation is key and can be quite successful with the right employee education programs in place,” Reed said.


The layoffs in private-sector tech are happening amid big changes in public-sector tech.

Recent data shows decreasing numbers of gov tech workers in certain agencies for the first time since 2014; the easing of the pandemic and consolidation might have something to do with that. But such factors as the increasing importance of cybersecurity, retirements and the ongoing rush to make public services more digital and mobile continue to produce tech job openings in state and local governments.

And all that, of course, influences the labor needs of not only governmental bodies but gov tech vendors, especially as more agencies explore outsourcing more of their tech responsibilities.

“Innovative government agencies are beginning to realize the opportunity they have to attract this talent in the current labor market and working to rethink recruitment strategies to reach this talent,” Chivonne Williams, public-sector advisory services principal at EY, wrote in an email. “The key challenge for these agencies is for them to move quickly to attract, hire and onboard these potential employees.”


That means not only speeding up recruitment by reducing steps in the hiring process, Williams said, but touting state and local governments’ relative stability and robust benefits — since they often can’t match private-sector salaries.

It also means highlighting the different purpose of government work, something that could attract more idealistic candidates now searching for new jobs.

“The public sector has a compelling story to tell about their mission and the impact it has on the public they serve,” Williams said. “Utilizing that mission to help create a sense of purpose for potential employees will be a key differentiator for the public sector, particularly among millennial and Gen Z talent.”

Indeed, she said, the public sector’s stability isn’t enough and must be wedded to career opportunity. Boredom and stagnation can drive away promising tech professionals.

“Employees coming from the private sector will want to know that they can grow in their roles, have the opportunity to develop new skills, and be faced with exciting challenges,” Williams said. “Government agencies should think innovatively about how to provide their employees with differentiated experiences that will help them grow while addressing critical needs.”


Not all gov tech companies are necessarily rushing to recruit from the recently enlarged collection of unemployed tech labor. The experience in that pool might be too narrow for some.

An example comes from Envisio, which sells strategic planning tools to governments.

“While it is a bonus to have a bigger pool of software engineers interested in working for us, in our other roles we hire primarily for alignment with our company mission and the requisite skills for the position,” said Mike Bell, co-founder and CEO of Envisio. “Tech industry experience pales in comparison to having a passion for public service and performance excellence.”

While that does echo what Williams said about the mission of public service, Bell points out that his company has hired “amazing people” from such sectors as community services, publishing and retail.

Even so, gov tech — no matter how much the industry expands this year — will keep its own slower pace, another potential factor in how many big tech veterans might land jobs for suppliers or even agencies.

“We take a more measured approach because our customers are more measured in their adoption of new technology,” Bell said. “We also see far fewer examples of massive VC funding rounds that often lead to company bloating. The roller coaster of rapid staffing up and back down again when market conditions change happens far less frequently with gov tech companies.”

This article first appeared in Government Technology, sister publication to Industry Insider — California.
Thad Rueter writes about the business of government technology. He covered local and state governments for newspapers in the Chicago area and Florida, as well as e-commerce, digital payments and related topics for various publications. He lives in New Orleans.