FAANG Careers: The Good, The Bad, and The Techy

Reading Time: 6 Minutes

When many people dream of a career in tech, they dream big, aspiring to join the elite in organizations that we have heard of, and which definitely shape our day to day lives, whether we realize it or not. But what does it mean to work for the big tech companies? And should you look beyond the big names in 2024? We think so, and here’s why. 

FAANG companies are the best-performing American tech companies, namely Meta (formerly Facebook), Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Alphabet (formerly Google). Facebook and Amazon spoilt the acronym a little with their name changes, but FAANG is already a widely used term, so MAANA will just have to wait. 

Employment Statistics in FAANG

Anyone who works in or around the tech industry will know about the mass layoffs in 2023, which saw over 200,000 layoffs, the bulk of which came from FAANG companies. According to Layoffs.fyi, in 2023, 1,919 tech companies laid off 262,995 employees. That’s an average of 220 layoffs per company. A closer look sees that many of these came from industry giants, with Google, Meta, Amazon, Salesforce, and Amazon each laying off between 6% and 13% of their entire workforce

According to the IT Salary Guide on Motion Recruitment, the tech industry was robust enough to absorb the layoffs for the most part, with tech talent demonstrating their resilience and innovation. A survey of those laid off saw 79% being reemployed within three months of being laid off. 63% of those used their severance pay to start their own business, most of which were in direct competition with their former employer. 

The Lure of FAANG

So why do people want to work for the big companies? Not only do they offer great pay, but the big companies offer the prestige of dropping in that they work for Amazon, Apple, or Google, as well as the opportunities to be at the forefront of new developments. Of course, innovation is not limited solely to the largest tech companies, but the giants have the resources to back it. These companies are also well established; the hierarchies are mature and stable, and each organization has a clear identity. This means that people who get a job at an organization of this size will usually have a good idea of what to expect. 

A big lure of FAANG employment is stability; a company of Google or Apple’s size is not likely to disappear overnight, so the layoffs rocked the tech world so much. However, during their career, those laid off from FAANG companies are likely to have connected with a network of elite knowledge and skill, meaning their opportunities post-layoff were probably better than those of someone with similar skills who was laid off from a micro organization. 

Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives at FAANG

In recent years, FAANG companies have recognized the importance of diversity and inclusion in fostering innovation and reflecting the global customer base they serve. Initiatives like Meta’s “Diverse Voices” and Apple’s “Inclusion & Diversity” report showcase efforts to bring a wider range of perspectives into their teams. These programs support underrepresented groups and drive creativity by bringing together diverse ideas and experiences.

Impact on Local Economies

The presence of FAANG companies in a region can transform local economies. For instance, Amazon’s HQ2 in Virginia is expected to create over 25,000 jobs, revitalizing the area. Similarly, Google’s campus expansions often lead to a surge in local employment and infrastructure development, catalyzing economic growth.

Innovation and Research Contribution

FAANG companies are at the forefront of cutting-edge research, contributing significantly to fields like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and quantum computing. Apple’s health research initiatives and Google’s AI for social good are prime examples of how these tech giants are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.

FAANG’s Role in Education and Skills Development

Tech giants understand the need for continuous learning and skill development. Programs like Amazon’s “Career Choice” and Google’s “Grow with Google” offer opportunities for employees and the public to gain new skills, ensuring that the workforce remains competitive in a rapidly evolving tech landscape.

Sustainability and Environmental Policies

Sustainability is a critical focus for FAANG companies. Apple’s commitment to becoming carbon neutral across its entire business by 2030 and Amazon’s Climate Pledge are testaments to their dedication to environmental responsibility.

FAANG and Global Market Expansion

As FAANG companies expand globally, they face unique challenges, such as navigating different regulatory environments and cultural landscapes. Their strategies for global expansion, including localization of services and products, are crucial for their continued growth.

The Ethics of Big Tech

Working in big tech comes with ethical considerations. Issues surrounding data privacy, user rights, and corporations’ moral responsibilities are increasingly at the forefront of public discourse. The way FAANG companies address these concerns will shape their legacy.

Work-Life Balance in FAANG Companies

FAANG companies often offer enviable employee benefits, but the reality of work-life balance can vary. While some employees may enjoy flexible schedules and remote work options, others may face high-pressure environments that challenge the notion of balance.

FAANG Alumni Success Stories

Many former FAANG employees leverage their experience to achieve remarkable success. Whether founding startups or leading initiatives in other companies, their stories inspire current and future tech professionals.

One notable success story is that of the founders of Nobl9, who, after Google acquired their startup, gained invaluable experience with Google’s cloud services. This knowledge enabled them to identify a market need for cloud-scale reliability approaches, leading to the creation of Nobl9.

Another example is Miles Hobby, the co-founder of Figure. He utilized his experience at Uber and Flexport to build a total compensation platform for modern HR teams. His drive to create something new and impactful led to the successful launch of Figure.

The Xoogler network, an influential community of ex-Google employees, has even established its own venture arm and event ecosystem, further supporting its members’ entrepreneurial endeavors.

These stories highlight a common theme: FAANG alumni often possess a deep understanding of the technology landscape, a desire to innovate, and the connections necessary to turn their visions into reality. Their ventures compete with their former employers and contribute significantly to the tech ecosystem, driving innovation and offering new solutions to emerging challenges.

By adding such narratives to your article, you can illustrate the potential of the experience gained at FAANG companies and how it can serve as a springboard for greater achievements in the tech industry.

Alternatives to FAANG

Emerging tech companies and startups offer dynamic alternatives to FAANG. These organizations often provide more agility, faster career progression, and the chance to wear multiple hats, appealing to those who thrive in entrepreneurial environments.

The World Beyond FAANG

It is easy to see how a FAANG job is the holy grail for someone dreaming of a career in tech. But does the reality match the dream? Is it all yellow slides, dress down Friday, and donuts? For many, a job in FAANG is everything they dreamt of – and more. The reality for most, however, is usually a bit more mundane. Apple has 161,000 employees worldwide. Undoubtedly, an elite few are in their dream job, but most of those workers are more likely to be doing the mundane but essential jobs that are required to sustain an organization of that size. Of course, the kudos for saying that you work for Apple remain, but the glamor may not be quite what it seems from the outside. 

The Benefits of Looking Beyond FAANG

If you want to build a successful career in tech, a FAANG company might offer you great opportunities. However, don’t write off the benefits of working for a smaller organization. Smaller might mean riskier, but it generally means more agile, too. If you work for a smaller company, you might get the opportunity to work with different teams and develop a range of skills. This will help make you indispensable to your employers and make you more versatile, a valuable trait in the ever-changing tech industry. What’s more, it is much easier to climb the ranks in a smaller organization; large companies tend to have dozens of hard-to-penetrate managerial levels, making progression much slower. 

The bright lights of globally renowned employment machines may not be quite as shiny from inside the company as they are from afar. When you are looking for tech jobs, consider not just what the job has to offer you today but also where it could take you in the future. Look at opportunities to develop across different teams and the potential to progress, not just the employment package, even if there is a Christmas hamper. 

Conclusion

The allure of FAANG remains strong, but the horizon is broadening. As we move into 2024, it’s clear that the tech industry is not just about the giants anymore. It’s about innovation, adaptability, and the courage to venture beyond the beaten path. The stories of FAANG alumni and the rise of new tech contenders remind us that the dream job doesn’t necessarily come with a big name attached. It comes from a place of passion, growth, and the willingness to embrace change.

So, as you chart your course in the tech world, remember that sometimes the best opportunities are where you least expect them—beyond FAANG, in the vast and vibrant technology ecosystem that awaits.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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