The first quarter of 2021 slowly increased the job opportunities in technology-based positions. The sluggish January start gave way to entire industries opening back up as we left Q1. And they’re ready to hire. The Talener team has followed this ramp up period over the past several months and early trends have appeared as more clients are ready, willing, and able to beef up their tech teams.
High Touch & Open to Conversations
Over 57% of Talener’s job placements in Q1 started with individual conversations. This is a candidate’s market; high touch interactions and personalized service are expected. Successful placements hinge on building meaningful relationships. Technology candidates know and understand that they are in high demand. Expecting top tech talent to fall into your lap through active job postings will cost your organization time and reduce your ability to meet mission critical needs.
Location, Location, Location
Most employees who have successfully worked from home continue to seek out remote or hybrid-remote positions. They do not want to be tied to a location or an in-office job five days a week. The amount of open technology jobs exceeds the technology talent pool. Companies will need to be clear about their path forward in regards to working arrangements and remote flexibility. Companies that are not explicit in their intentions or dismiss the overwhelming desire by candidates for remote flexibility will find themselves without the talent they desire.
In the spring of 2020, kayaks, home improvement materials, and bicycles flew off shelves as many companies had not yet laid off workers. Disposable income was funneled into stocking up on food, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies. Major eCommerce brands like Amazon & Target thrived in being the providers of essential consumables. Now, as we envision the reality of a post-pandemic world, other industries are back to claim their share of disposable income. We will see gaming and gambling platforms hiring aggressively; betting on increased disposable income as we move through 2021.
Healthcare & Health Tech
The demand for health care professionals and technologists has not waned over the past year. Healthcare providers are still struggling to build & secure online portals and create telehealth platforms quickly. Health Tech companies are equally strapped for talent; tapped by major hospital systems and local governments to provide software and services. Even as the number of vaccinated individuals goes up, these companies will continue to need talent as we embark on the next phase of building healthcare systems that can respond to the next public health crisis.
Front End & Design Talent
Front end developers and designers were in high demand exiting the first quarter. Brick and mortar restaurants and retailers continue to build their businesses online after scrambling to stay afloat in 2020. Mobile food ordering and retail curbside pick-up skyrocketed in 2020. Even as restaurant and retail capacity restrictions are lifted, the online ordering trend doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Web development and marketing companies are hiring permanent and contract staff to meet the demand of small and medium businesses without their own in-house tech staff.
The second quarter of 2021 will solidify the direction in which open technology jobs are heading for the remainder of the year. Coupling the arrival of the summer and the mass vaccination effort, companies are more optimistic that they can hire again with confidence. We expect to see the competition for technology talent to heat up; forcing employers to get more creative and aggressive with their compensation packages.
To learn more about tech market staffing trends, reach out to our team. We can help guide you in building your job descriptions and compensation packages to attract qualified and available talent.
Americans are not known for taking their allotted vacation time through their employers. According to the Washington Post, “Even when Americans get paid time off, they don’t use it all. And when they do use their days – it may not come as a surprise to learn – many of them fail to leave work fully behind.” According to Allianz, nearly three quarters of Americans take micro-vacations, amounting to less than 4 days away, often including weekends.
But as we move into the summer of 2021, hotel bookings, private rentals, and planned time off is surging. TripAdvisor is anticipating more than 67% of households taking an extended vacation during the summer months, a surge that is leaving many employers scrambling as many people have not had any leisure time off in nearly fifteen months.
The increased need for qualified technical talent complicates the interviewing process, training, and successful hiring of new employees this summer. For the first time in many years, vacation-goers are indicating that they will finally cut the cord during their time off and recharge without a direct line to the office.
How are companies coping with current hiring managers and TA decision makers who are slated to take back-to-back time off for the next three months? Organizations have gotten creative with their current employees – limiting the amount of vacation days that can be taken between Memorial Day & Labor Day, closing down operations to force paid time off, or offering incentives to use vacation time after the summer rush.
But this doesn’t address the pile-on of PTO usage when organizations are in dire need of help, particularly in areas like technology. Only 16% of tech jobs were filled in March – leaving over 300,000 open, according to CompTIA.
Companies need to take action now to ensure they’re not facing a double staffing shortage; back-to-back time off of their current staff, and the missed opportunity to have new employees onboarded and up-to-speed in Q3. Additionally, some flexibility will be required as new employees likely have their own vacations booked prior to joining a company. Beyond global PTO policy changes, clear communication and direction amongst individual teams will be critical in successfully making new hires.
Prepare your staff by defining every person’s role in the upcoming hiring process. What is expected of them, and when? If they will be on vacation, set boundaries and choose potential alternative interviewers who can fill in.
Get Buy In
Leaving your team in the dark about hiring goals means that no expectations have been set or preparations made. It’s difficult to get buy-in when you’ve left them out of the loop. Prepared staff are more likely to take an hour out of their vacation time if they are anticipating it.
Empathize & Validate
We’re all exhausted. It’s been 15 months of uncertainty and we all need a break, whether it’s on a beach in Mexico or building a deck in the backyard. Time off is valid; no matter how employees spend it.
In addition to preparing your own employees and getting buy-in from them, it is valuable for your team or TA to know general hiring timelines. Setting up a framework of timelines sets expectations and provides more clarity into how they play a role in the upcoming weeks or months.
Create a Process
When preparation doesn’t account for unexpected projects or shifts in organizational goals, create a process that delegates responsibility. Consequently, If you are hiring a new team member or if a team member leaves and needs to be replaced quickly, everyone understands their role in the interviewing, hiring and onboarding process.
If you are faced with staff turnover, a surge in PTO requests and are understaffed this summer, consider bringing in consultants who can hit the ground running and relieve the immediate burden that your tech teams may be facing. If you have questions about the process of hiring a consultant, reach out to the Talener team for more information.
Over the past year, companies have scrambled and adapted to the chaos of the pandemic. Even software engineers, who are typically in high demand (and often insulated from layoffs) have found themselves looking for new jobs. But looking for a new job and committing to your job search are two very different paths.
This year, we break up with the casual job search. Maybe not forever, but for now. We move into 2021 with the prospect of an effective vaccine, traveling, and seeing friends & family again. We’re also looking forward to more stability in the job market. And for some industries, 2020 has catapulted businesses into rapid growth. This year we expect that the fintech, online gaming and health tech industries will continue to grow and hire.
The way businesses are hiring and how they are deciding to expand their teams is undeniably linked to what has happened over the past year. Casual job seekers who are not motivated to make a move or aren’t dedicated to the jobs they are applying for will be overlooked.
Take it Seriously: It’s expensive and time consuming to hire a new employee. Some TA or HR teams may be short staffed as furloughed employees have not returned. Hiring managers are stretched thin; trying to rebuild and reorganize teams to meet demand. Just as your time is valuable, so is theirs. Take your application and interviews seriously.
The First Impression is More Important than Ever: Not only do you have to get off to the right start in the interviewing process, but you also need to show that you are an employee capable of transitioning to your new job. This is particularly important if you are working remotely or partially remotely. You are asking a new employer to trust you without them ever having seen you interact in-person with clients or co-workers. Your first impression isn’t contained to the first video interview. It is extended into your first days or weeks of work, where you must build their trust in your abilities as you meet (or e-meet) your team one-by-one. You will be making a first impression over and over again. Even living room video meetings need to exude professionalism.
Ask the Right Questions: It has always been important to ask useful questions in an interview. But now, more than ever, you need to research and prepare your questions (with follow up questions & researched responses) prior to your interviews. Time is a premium – your ability to ask insightful questions will start a conversation in lieu of a back-and-forth Q&A. This is the time to show your investment in the job and the company.
Know the History & the Market: You know the company and the job inside and out. But do you know what their hiring looked like pre-pandemic? How have they adapted or changed their structure over the past year? Know their pain points and show them how you can concretely contribute to solving their business needs.
Be Ready: Your resume, or at minimum, a strong foundation for a resume should be ready to edit and send on-demand. While many companies are abandoning cover letters all together, it is important to have bullet points and a general format prepared. Expect potential technical tests and think about how you will need to plan your time – especially if you are home with children or other distractions.
If you’re not sure how to get your technical job search started, the Talener team can help to guide you as you consider whether a change in position is right for you.
From pandemic layoff to Director of Technology, a Talener candidate recounts his journey.
The Search Begins
As a result of the pandemic, and for the first time in my career, I was out of work and looking for a job. I know that I am respected in my industry and I’ve developed many wonderful relationships. I was confident that I would find something soon. Little did I know…
I started educating myself in job hunting, 2020 edition. Long gone are the days of the NY Times classifieds. Armed with 1500+ curated LinkedIn connections, I tweaked my profile to alert the market that I was available. I hit the major job-hunting sites: LinkedIn, Dice & Indeed. I also hit some of the lesser known (and likely sketchy) ones too.
I was bombarded with daily emails, of which 95% of the roles from my keyword searches were irrelevant. I will never understand how my career as a technology leader could generate a match for an Amazon delivery driver. I doubled down on malware and anti-virus protection for my PC.
I’ll be honest, after initially reaching out to many peers, it became slow going. My initial contacts were all saying, “of course we’ll keep an eye open, but the world is changing, and everyone is adjusting to the new paradigm.” Every day, I would scour the sites for jobs; look at LinkedIn for relevant announcements from my contacts – anything that would allow me to start another conversation.
I applied online to a very wide net. I hid tags in my resume that were specific to each role and this allowed the ATS (applicant tracking systems) to pick me up. I got pretty good at this over time, and I highly recommend it. I kept at it. I told myself that it only takes on interview to get me a job, and today might be the day that something happens.
During the search, there were flashes of hope. A connection would reach back out or I’d be scheduled for an interview. I’d prepare by learning what I could about the job and the company – which isn’t always easy. I’d feel that I had aced it. And then the news: “they’re looking for someone else” or “you’re overqualified.” Or worse, I would get ghosted.
As the months passed, I became more and more frustrated dealing with recruiters. I have worked with recruiters on the hiring side for decades. I have my favorites, but over the years I have met some with questionable skills and worse yet, questionable ethics. My biggest gripe was that they didn’t effectively market the position to me, and more importantly, didn’t market me to the prospective employer.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
One Sunday morning a few weeks ago, I saw an ad come in from a recruiting firm I was unaware of called Talener. As I read it, it became evident that the role was extremely well suited for me – in my industry, and in a similar environment in which I had worked previously. My bike ride would have to wait, I needed to apply. Within an hour, I received a response back. I assumed it was an acknowledgement of my application from an automated system. But it was actually a personal email from Henry Boulos. His email told me more about the job and asked some additional questions. I took the time to answer the questions individually and tie them back to my resume. We both got excited. Henry could see that I was a highly viable candidate for a role that I was confident that I would be well-suited for. He arranged for a Microsoft Teams interview with the firm, along with other candidates.
More importantly, Henry spent time preparing me. It wasn’t just about the role, the skills I should emphasize or the people I’d be meeting. More importantly, he prepared my by giving me some frank pointers that he had picked up on my presentation, which I wasn’t used to. I studied the notes I had taken with Henry, reviewed the company website in detail, and set up Google Alerts for current news about the company and its principals.
I felt the first Teams interview went well with the COO. I listened to his questions. I sent a thank you note. And in the hopes of continuing the conversation, the timing worked out that I was able to attend a virtual user conference for the company’s ERP system. Henry updated me on the process moving forward. I had made the first cut. Another Teams interview was scheduled with a larger audience. I put together some notes gleaned from the conference.
Henry and I reviewed in detail what I should further be prepared to discuss. I think we get very focused on telling our story during an interview, and Henry reminded me the importance of listening. I came away again feeling good, that I had “strutted my stuff” well. I also asked about pain points in the role and challenges that leadership saw. I again followed up with a thank you note, including discussing some proposed solutions to the issues discussed during the interview. I made it to a third interview, this one would be on-site. Henry ensured that I was fully prepared, and the meeting went well. Another thank you note sent. The next morning, Henry followed up with the wonderful news that I had gotten the job, and I began the onboarding process. It was less than three weeks from first contact to a signed offer.
Again, I cannot say enough about the professionalism that Henry exhibited throughout the process. I plan to use Henry again and refer him and his firm to my peers.
Yes, there’s a pandemic. But I got a senior-level job. Here are a few things I learned along the way:
Don’t give up. No matter how discouraged you get, you are one person who needs only one job. This can happen at any time.
LinkedIn and your resume are a significant part of your personal brand. It’s the first thing people see. Think of it from that perspective.
Network, network, network. The time to start networking is NOT when you need a job. Do it throughout your career.
Prepare. Look in detail at the company’s website. Look for current news about the company and its principals. Make sure you check Glassdoor. Find out what products they use and learn about them. Bring it up on the interview when appropriate. Everyone always likes to hear about themselves.
Listen. I realized that providing answers to a prospective employers’ challenges are more important than talking about an extensive skillset or describing a list of successful projects.
Always send a thank you note. My wife taught me that.
Layoffs from the pandemic caught many career employees off-guard. We could see the immediate impact in industries like travel or restaurants. However, many employees across industries faced layoffs for the first time in their careers. Even with years of experience, being at the top of your field, and having excellent connections – it’s jarring and overwhelming to pivot quickly.
If it has been years (or decades!) since you’ve written a resume, have had to call up connections, or apply for a job— it can be daunting to start over again. Let the Talener team help you out or provide you with guidance on where to get started.
Attracting talent is a competition. Over the past decade, some companies have ‘reinvented’ their employees’ workday. From nap pods to game rooms, spa treatments to an in-house chef, companies pushed the boundaries of traditional benefits and perks. These became the gold standard for coaxing talent (especially in technology) to join the ranks of unlimited vacation and free healthcare programs.
But for most of the working population, these types of benefits are a pipe dream. Most SMEs can’t provide elaborate benefits – I’m looking at you Microsoft Treehouses. For the rest of us, gym membership reimbursements & in-office snacks are a great addition to health and retirement benefits.
In March, when many office workers were sent home, many of these ancillary benefits were left behind. Employees didn’t quit their jobs en masse without their company-provided extra hot triple foam latte.
Gyms closed, restaurants shuttered, and our commutes started and ended in a hallway. Concern for the safety, health, and financial stability of family and friends became front-of-mind.
What does this mean for 2021? Many companies have shifted their benefit offerings; taking a step back to address what has become important to employees.
Health Insurance – Employees are seeking quality affordable coverage that is comprehensive and inclusive. Attractive plans have lower premiums, reasonable out-of-pocket costs, and provide inclusive coverage for things like reproductive healthcare (i.e. IVF) or gender re-assignment surgery.
Increased Mental Health & Wellness Programs – The demand for mental health services has risen sharply over the past year.Whether employees have access through their health insurance or an EAP, companies are ramping up programs for employee mental health and wellness.
Paid Family Leave – Several states are implementing some form of paid family leave for the birth of a child, adoption, or care of a sick family member. Companies that provide paid leave will be more attractive to new talent and help to retain current employees.
PTO: Mental Health & Recharge – In additional to better access to mental health programs, 2021 may bring more time-off options for mental health and recharge days. The fatigue from the pandemic has left many people in need of time off after daycares have closed, schools have gone virtual, or partners have lost their jobs.
Personalized Benefits Packages – Tailored benefits packages are on the rise. Benefits and perks have relative importance based on the life stage of the employee. Offering tuition reimbursement may not resonate with employees who are closer to retirement than college. Companies have an opportunity to offer optional equivalent perks that make sense to the individual.
Even as we (hopefully) move towards a vaccine and the end of the pandemic, many things have changed over this past year. Some may continue to work from home permanently, while others will be back in the office sooner rather than later. But it’s unlikely that a communal room of nap pods and in-office buffet lunches are coming back any time soon. HR is re-reinventing benefits packages that are in-line with the changing employee needs. If you are looking for a new job and want to better understand how benefits will affect you (and what they’re worth!), please reach out to the Talener Team today.