In recent months we’ve seen rather a lot of layoffs. It feels like every few days there’s another LinkedIn post from someone in our network who’s lost their job. We spoke to three conversational AI recruitment experts to find out more.
These layoffs affected workers at:
- Amazon Alexa
- Salesforce (the owners of Slack messaging app)
- Meta (formerly Facebook)
- Heyday (owned by Hootsuite)
- SoundHound laid off half their staff
- Google announced they would cut 6% of their workforce (apparently overnight)
What can we take from this news?
Are we now entering the ‘voice winter’ that was predicted by the likes of Brian Roemelle?
It would be tempting for us to speculate, when there’s very little official information about it from the companies who are shedding their staff, other than ‘unpredictable economic times’ being the reason. Many hired extensively during COVID and are now perhaps returning back to pre-pandemic normality. Also, there’s Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and China’s recent COVID surge, which have both played havoc with global markets. If you want to dig deeper into Alexa’s layoffs specifically, here’s an article from Cheryl Platz (who has worked on both Amazon Alexa and Microsoft Cortana).
Also, growth in CAI might not have been as expected, as cited by Soundhound. Conversational AI is revolutionising customer service but it won’t happen overnight. That’s a hard sell for shareholders who are seeing Big Tech invest billions in order to reap the rewards further down the line.
Nobody needs to fear
So what does this mean for all those who have lost their jobs? And what’s the current state of the conversational AI jobs market? We asked the three people closest to it to find out: Allys Parsons from Techire AI, Martyn Redstone of Bot Jobs, and Hillary Black from Conversation Designer Jobs.
Their thoughts may pleasantly surprise you.
There are plenty of jobs
Let’s start with the most important thing of all – there are still plenty of jobs. As Martyn said:
“Conversational AI is still in hiring mode”
Hillary reported that:
“The amount of job openings continues to grow every day.”
Conversation designers are still in high demand, as Allys says:
“Conversation design is complex when done effectively so companies will certainly require this expertise in the future.”
Too much focus on Big Tech
Whereas a few years ago, Big Tech absorbed most of the talent, that’s now changing, according to Allys:
“Big tech doesn’t guarantee a secure position. As we’ve seen, big tech are mainly the ones making huge cuts, whilst some nimble, well-funded start-ups are still hiring.”
Martyn also sees the focus shifting:
“The small and mid-size tech vendors are still hiring, as are the consultancies – the Big Four and the smaller, more specialist consultancies. They’re still growing and they (probably) recently had a funding injection to help with their growth. Aside from the tech vendors, I am also seeing an uptick in conversation designers being hired by corporates for their internal CxD teams. In fact, I’m hearing more and more that they are struggling to hire good people with strong CxD experience.”
Consider that while some companies are struggling to obtain conversation design talent, some of the best in the business have just been released from their jobs! As Hillary says:
“There are candidates available now that were working at companies like Meta and Salesforce.”
It’s interesting to note that the industry is still rapidly evolving, and those who are actively hiring have a better idea of what they want. Hillary said:
“What I’ve been noticing is that the job descriptions and qualifications are getting more specific. I think the past several years have been a learning experience for growing teams, and they now have a better picture of what types of skills they’re looking for in a conversation designer, and know that they need these people on their team in order for their programs to succeed. It’s clear to me that companies realise the value that conversation designers bring to a team, and they have room and budget for those positions within their organisation.”
Talent is still in high demand
So, we may be experiencing a bumpy patch, but there’s still plenty of jobs. Our industry is safe. Talent is still in high demand.
So what advice is there for those looking for jobs?
Here’s some helpful perspectives.
Allys says; “If you’ve been affected by layoffs, remember you still have great and valuable experience. Your job was made redundant, not you. Use this time to network, update your LinkedIn profile, resume & portfolio and try to keep positive. The Conversational AI industry has a great community of people, always willing to talk and help where they can.”
Martyn says; “if you have been recently affected by layoffs, do not despair, as there is still a strong hiring sentiment happening within Conversational AI.” That’s probably why Hillary said; “hiring managers should act fast if they have available positions, or are considering investing in conversational AI this year!”
Are you looking for conversation design talent? If you have Conversational AI job opportunities available, feel free to add them to the comments below!