There once was a time in the big tech industry when it felt like there was talent coming from every direction. However, if this post-inflation and pandemic layoff spree has taught us anything, it might not have been the case. Why do I say that? Well, I have a lot of thoughts on why that is and how it contributed to the quality bubble I see us coming out of now. On that note, let’s get into my thoughts on the subject!
Where Did The Quality Bubble Come From
The quality bubble, as I define it in relation to the engineering talent pool, is a meeting point of multiple extremes. For the best way of understanding, we’re going to define the correlations found at the said meeting point as angles and describe them below.
I’d like to think if you’re reading this article you’ve been in at least one situation(work, school, or life) where you had to collaborate with a group of people to accomplish something. While prioritizing everyone having aligning abilities makes the most logical sense, as humans, we don’t always put logic first. In truth, personality, and team synergy always comes first. This leads to people inherently seeking out people similar to them.
In tech that translates to similar schools, backgrounds, hobbies, upbringings, communication styles, etc. Inherently creating a cookie-cutter workforce. There is no bigger example of this than big tech, diversity included.
Non Transferable Processes
If you’ve experienced, or heard from someone who has, the processes that go into the day-to-day work productivity at big tech, then you know it’s pretty different. Which makes sense. At that scale of technological infrastructure, and volume of users, you have to be extremely careful with every change made. However, when these engineers leave(myself included) it is a LONG learning curve to get out of these ingrained habits.
Technical Hand Holding
Being realistic, what sense does it make for a good-sized company to have its engineers build any part of the application infrastructure from scratch? I’ll tell you, none. It’s a horrible use of resources and time not to have a dedicated team, fractional or not, building infrastructural tools to be used by the organization as a whole. Thus, engineers rarely actually need to be fully familiarized with what it takes to build something on their own vs building within the predefined company infrastructure.
Unfortunately, work output in a lot of places can be split by the 80/20 rule in most organizations. Meaning, 80% of the org did marginally little, compared to the 20% that were overly worked and contributed the bulk of output. While the percentages vary, to some degree, every scrum team and organization follows this. To the point, there are people on social media talking about having no work to do at high-paying jobs. Even in my career, there was one place I was contracting at where we did nothing for months.
Getting back into the pace of a smaller-sized company after this takes a good amount of time
Lack Of Skillset Growth
The ultimate cherry on top is a doozy, especially for engineers. Being stuck in the technical ecosystem of a well-established tech company for long periods of time lead to a lot of problems when you step away. It shows itself even as early as the interview process, let alone once you actually get on the job.
What Caused The Bubble To Burst
The bubble we’ve all enjoyed ended due to a similar reason as to why it came to be. A perfect storm of circumstances. A combination of the pandemic, inflation, overhiring, worldly issues, and extreme hubristic attitudes. This is something that’s been in earlier waves of tech innovation, and industries in general. So it’s nothing to write home about as shocking. However, the main difference with tech I would say, is that we have a plethora of runway to continuously build and expand. There are very much so many different aspects of our world where we still need technical innovation.