By Noel Randewich and Hyunjoo Jin
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Tesla has tapped the brakes on aggressive job advertising in recent weeks since CEO Elon Musk directed executives to obtain his sign off on all new hires, a Reuters analysis shows.
The small dip in ads on its website demonstrates the electric car maker’s efforts to control costs amid a price war, while balancing a need to grow its workforce as it races to meet lofty growth targets.
Daily changes to Tesla’s U.S. career website, tracked by Reuters, show the number of job ads has dipped by about 4% since May 15, when Musk told executives to send him a list of hiring requests on a weekly basis and cautioned them to “think carefully” before submitting requests.
The last time Tesla’s job ads dipped by that magnitude, was in November, and the decline accelerated over the next three months, with Musk warning in January he expected a “pretty difficult recession”.
The following April, Tesla reported its lowest quarterly gross margin in two years, reflecting slashed prices. Tesla aims to expand its production volume by an average of 50% a year.
The job ads provide a glimpse of trends within the company’s hiring policy, but do not offer details about absolute numbers of new hires or attrition.
Tesla did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
Musk previously called a halt to hiring in June 2022. At that time, job ads on Tesla’s U.S. website fell sharply over the next two months before rebounding in late 2022.
Rushing to cement its place as the leading global electric carmaker, Tesla has brought on new workers at a furious pace in recent years, even as rivals cut jobs. Musk was among the first CEOs to warn of a recession over a year ago, and with Tesla’s profit margin under pressure the company’s pace of expansion and cost base are under scrutiny.
Since Musk’s May note, Tesla has added almost 1,400 new job ads, mostly for positions in the United States, in areas ranging from software to sales to vehicle service. That shows the company continues to recruit, keeping total job ads on its website near highs.
Tesla has also removed a slightly larger number of job ads during that time, leaving it with almost 7,600 job ads across its U.S. career website. That remains near the highest since Reuters began tracking almost a year ago.
“His statement, ‘No more no hires without my approval’ is sort of a sign to everyone: Let’s be careful, do things the right way. He believes this year is still going to be a tough year,” said Robert Lutts, president of Cabot Wealth Management, which manages $1 billion in assets and owns Tesla shares.
Musk said in May the global economy was going to be “difficult” for the next 12 months.
Tesla added 29,000 full-time workers in 2022, bringing its total global workforce to almost 128,000. That compares to 173,000 for Ford Motor and 167,000 for General Motors.
Musk’s call to limit new hiring follows the elimination of tens of thousands of jobs this year by tech heavyweights including Meta Platforms, Alphabet, Microsoft and Amazon.
Among 17 categories on Tesla’s websites, Manufacturing, Engineering & Information Technology and Vehicle Service positions account for over half of all job ads. Ads in Autopilot & Robotics, a key part of Musk’s vision for Tesla, are at 94, around the highest since Reuters began tracking the data.
Tesla tweeted in April it received 3.6 million job applications last year.
(Reporting by Noel Randewich and Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Anna Driver)
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