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Hiring trends of the last few years

Understanding compensation dynamics, sector divergences, and the importance of retention is key to building resilient teams.
Jordan Wan

Carta recently published enlightening hiring trends from the past few years. While 2023 was a painful year of ecosystem contraction, we’re starting to see some green shoots in 2024. 

Here are 3 predictions we’re making for this year:

1. Flat compensation growth.

In 2023, salary levels rebounded for sales (+5.7%), customer success (+2.8%) and operations (+2.6%). These annual increases merely tracked inflation while non-revenue roles saw no change or even declined. In aggregate, we don’t expect material changes this year, but IC sales and front-line management wages should rebound faster as healthy companies rebuild their GTM capacity.

Above: In 2023, companies focused on hiring revenue generating and IC roles.

2. Wider divergences by sector.

Hiring will be fierce in deep tech and AI where growth stage funding poured. Sectors like SaaS, FinTech, and Web3 will recover, but we expect it to be more modest. Here are the innovation sectors where we have been the most active in the past few years.

Above: As the impact of macro fades, we expect to see a divergence of industry trends and sector rotation of talent migrating into innovative areas where funding is accelerating.

3. Retention, enablement and L&D are priorities once again.

75% of employees have been at their startup for less than three years. The Great Resignation, remote hiring, and layoffs have turned over most startups’ personnel. As company leaders rebuild their idiosyncratic operating cultures, retaining top employees and safeguarding institutional knowledge will become a top priority. We have seen an uptick in corporate interest in WISE - our global community advancing the careers of women in sales.

Above: In sub-$100M valuation Carta startups, 43-56% of employees had tenures of 2 years or less.

While we don’t expect the coming years to follow the V-shaped recovery of 2021, we are seeing signs of return to normalcy. As macro effects dissipate and corporations revert back to normal business planning cycles, overall hiring/layoff trends will decouple by industry, sector and stage. 

Undoubtedly, as prior cycles have proven, hiring and retaining top talent will once again become the top priority of every founder and investor in the innovation ecosystem.


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