One of the most immediate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic was on employment. Layoffs occurred en masse across industries, companies went bankrupt, and more American workers were looking for jobs than at almost any prior point in history. Even roles in lucrative industries that were once viewed as paths toward easy living and fortune started becoming less secure — namely, software engineering positions at some of the largest tech firms in the country. FAANG companies in particular cut software engineering job listings dramatically, showing shifting hiring priorities and a scramble to adapt to the changes brought on by COVID.

Some job-seekers may have hoped that one year later and with a glimpse of normalcy on the horizon (at least for the U.S.), big tech would have switched back to its old ways and resumed typical hiring for software engineers. But new data shows that isn't happening. Despite readily available vaccines and a year of record success at many FAANG companies, the five titans are slashing software engineering jobs even faster than they were at the onset of the pandemic. 

The trend that started after COVID-19 set in was no cautionary measure, but a permanent shift in strategy for the five major tech firms. Thinknum data shows that FAANG companies have cut their job listings for roles containing the keywords "software engineer" by as much as 35% since January 2020. The boom of online services, shopping and apps brought on by the pandemic has not done much to make software engineers priority hires.

Apple, despite increased focus in 2020 and 2021 on hardware, has shown the least severe drop among the pack in software engineering jobs with only a 13% decrease. Facebook follows close behind with a 17% cut — indicating that maybe you don't need to hire so many software engineers when most of the new features you release are based on existing products from competitors. Netflix has never been at the head of the curve for hiring software engineers, so its cut of 32% is perhaps the least surprising of the bunch. Google and Amazon however, which have both benefitted greatly from the surge in online shopping, still cut listings by 20% and 35% respectively.

It is also worth noting that FAANG's hiring has slowed down tremendously in general. Netflix, for example, after a strong year and continued pursuit of high-profile deals that could help it compete against the sudden influx of streaming competitors, has slashed job listings overall by nearly 50%. Apple similarly has similarly cut hiring by nearly 23%. Amazon, despite last year's record hiring push, is still on a 12% downturn.

The reduction in overall hiring could be brought on by companies being tepid about hiring people to work remotely, even as some firms begin preparing to return to the office. But the decrease in software engineer hires is still notable, and signifies a new era for FAANG and big tech. An engineering gig at FAANG may still be viewed as a surefire way to make a lot of money soon after you finish your degree, but it may never again be as solid a bet as it was just a few short years ago.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.