Main image of article If You’re a Laid-Off Tech Worker, the Feds Might Want You

Despite the tech industry’s notably low unemployment rate, big tech companies and startups have spent the second half of 2022 cutting staff. Some managers in the federal government see that as an opportunity to snatch up some prime tech talent.

Kurt DelBene, chief information officer at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, recently told CNBC that his agency is intent on hiring software engineers and other kinds of tech talent laid off from Big Tech companies such as Meta and Twitter. To do so, the VA is appealing to their sense of mission.

“It’s one thing to build productivity software for individuals,” DelBene told the network. “It’s quite another to think about how your systems deliver healthcare benefits to veterans who have so selflessly given of themselves to defend our country.”

But federal government faces a couple of significant challenges on its way to hiring thousands of tech professionals over the next few years. For starters, private tech companies tend to pay far more than the federal government. Second, many tech professionals don’t want to spend their careers mired in bureaucracy. However, recruiters and hiring managers for federal and local agencies can highlight the stability of government careers (including pensions) as well as the ability to potentially work on projects that will meaningfully impact the lives of millions.

The hiring need is particularly intense for highly specialized roles such as cybersecurity analyst. Earlier this year, job-tracking site Cyber Seek estimated there are about 39,000 open cybersecurity positions in the public sector, including local, state and federal agencies. The federal government has taken concrete steps to fix its cybersecurity shortcomings, including the implementation of additional funding for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, but it still needs talent to help repel internal and external threats.

“Especially challenging for the public sector is the competition with compensation and equity packages within the private sector for the same pool of candidates,” Dave Gerry, chief operating officer at Bugcrowd, recently told Dice. “While CISA has made great strides in improving the partnership with the private sector under Director [Jen] Easterly's oversight, employees oftentimes will be drawn to wealth creation opportunities above and beyond a sense of civic duty.”

Nonetheless, for those tech professionals sick of the private sector, government could offer some interesting opportunities—especially given agencies’ need for specialists. When considering a new job, don’t rule out the chance to work for the public sector.