LinkedIn executive says it's still a good time to hone tech skills despite mass layoffs

Exclusive: Daniel Shapero talks employment trends and career advice on a new episode of the Business Extra podcast

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Despite headline news of mass layoffs at the likes of Amazon, Meta, Microsoft and Spotify, now is still a good time to be a technology worker, an executive at LinkedIn said.

“One of the clear trends over the past decade is that every company is becoming a tech company,” Daniel Shapero, chief operating officer at LinkedIn, told The National's Business Extra podcast during a recent visit to Dubai.

“As much as the tech sector might be facing headwinds … there remains a very big gap between the supply of digital skills and the demand for those skills in markets around the world.”

More jobs in the technology sector were lost last year than during the dot-com crash of 2000, according to Chicago-based global employment company Challenger, Gray & Christmas. The industry was the leading job cutter in an otherwise tight employment market globally after a glut of hiring for digital-age roles during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rising interest rates and recession fears in the US, the world's largest economy and home to some of the biggest tech players, have also been contributing factors.

LinkedIn, which says it has more than 875 million registered users, shared data this month that it expected hiring to continue to slow, but predicted this was not expected to be reflected in large rises in unemployment.

It determined labour market tightness by looking at the ratio of open jobs to applicants on its platform.

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Business is increasingly becoming a team sport
Daniel Shapero, LinkedIn COO

“While the next 12 months look more challenging, there are opportunities for those looking to make a career move,” the company said.

There are two active applicants for every open role in the UK and France, for example, and one active job opening for every active applicant in Germany and the US.

Mr Shapero, who has been at LinkedIn for 15 years, said that skill-building is his top tip for creating opportunity over the long term.

“There's a lot of data to show that, increasingly, digital skills in particular continue to be in incredibly high demand amongst employers,” he said.

“My advice to anyone starting a career or trying to further their own career is to be very deliberate about what skills they want to build, and what relationships they're going to invest in, to help build opportunities for themselves over time.”

He said that two trends are reshaping workplaces: greater value being placed on teamwork rather than individual work and a growing demand from employees to hear from leadership.

“The big shift has been a shift from individual work to being the atomic unit of how companies get work done, to teamwork being the atomic unit of how people get things done,” Mr Shapero said.

“Business is increasingly becoming a team sport.

There remains a big gap between the supply and demand of digital skills in markets worldwide. Getty

“The other thing that's going on is, and you see this on LinkedIn, people want to hear more from their leaders — what they stand for, what values they have, in selecting what teams they want to work on.

“One of the reasons that's so important is that many of the most talented people, they have options, they get to pick what kinds of employers they want to work for and what projects they work on. And so, if you want to attract the best talent, then you need to be transparent and visible as a leader.”

What sets Generation Z apart from others in the labour market is “they've learnt that the job that I have today sets me up for the career that I want tomorrow”, he said.

“The job I have today teaches me things, and those things that I'm learning are what's going to unlock opportunities that I'm excited about in the future. So I think that both of those lessons learnt in the economy … are incredibly powerful, both from the employer side, but also from the talent side.”

On the topic of remote work and the advent of augmented and virtual reality to create collaborative work environments online, Mr Shapero was cautious.

“When I talk to my customers, they continue to reinforce the power of people physically coming together,” he said.

He added, however, that he expects to learn a lot over the next several years about how the metaverse and artificial intelligence may reshape work.

“It continues to be magical when people come together to build relationships and get work done as a team,” he said.

“And I think that that's likely to continue into the future.”

Updated: January 27, 2023, 9:56 AM
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