Is the Talent Race is Entering a New Era?

Is the Talent Race is Entering a New Era?

Lack of work is causing many tech companies to reduce staff. When they try to recall these staff however, will they discover many are no longer available?

Employers are beginning to realize that the future of work is happening now. Virtually every employee will soon expect a remote-work option be added to their current and future job. They’ve tasted it, they like it, and won’t easily give it up. Is your company transitioning to a large remote-work option? If not, the new risk is losing the talent race. The talent shortage was already critical. Will it only get worse?

End of the Beginning?

This year’s April 1 was no joke. Projects are slowing down because clients are pausing or cancelling existing projects, and/or delaying, descoping or cancelling new projects, or you’ve lost clients. Your backlog is shrinking. The impact is technology companies taking a sharp look at their staffing levels. They are laying off staff, certainly under the premise that once this unprecedented period is over, and over soon we pray, they can simply be recalled and their businesses reset to normal.

Another strategy some companies are using is to reduce salaries. Will tech workers impacted by this wait indefinitely for their salary to be returned to 100%? It’s reasonable to assume they’re looking for a new job. Now.

At the beginning of March, and for as far back as anyone can remember, we had a net shortage of skilled technical people. Compounding this shortage is every company only wants to hire the top 25% of technology people. It was already really hard to find and hire these top 25% of seasoned tech people.

We are now seeing a growing pool of both displaced tech workers and receptive workers.


Many tech companies are still hiring, on-boarding, and will start to experience a field day attracting displaced or salary impacted tech employees.

Will your top 25% will be riding out the COVID-19 storm with you, while you have already laid off staff and/or reduced theirs or other’s salaries? Their refreshed resume is probably now in circulation, posted on Indeed, and their LinkedIn profile updated, resulting in them being approached often by would-be employers and recruiters.

Hopefully Soon

We will crest this COVID-19 curve and stress levels will begin to decline. Paused projects resume, delayed projects will receive new start dates, cancelled projects will be revisited with some rescoping or reprioritization and net-new projects will appear as new post-Covid-19 business opportunities are discovered. Companies will see their backlog growing and hiring freezes lifted.

Invariably you will reach back to your displaced staff, but will you find many have landed new jobs and no longer available?

When you start new recruitment drives, will you discover identifying the top 25% just got harder because too many of these skilled workers will have new jobs, many with a large remote-work component which they now desire, and will be unreceptive to your recruiting approaches and job ads?

Will we find our best and brightest have been picked up by BIG international firms?

While workers still like working alongside coworkers, right now they’re learning how to work not physically with them. Happening now are fundamental changes in the way we work and people won’t go back to exactly the same practices. The future of work is here.

When the dotcom bubble burst in 2000, it too displaced large numbers of tech people, and many left the industry altogether. Will that will happen again, further exasperating your recruiting efforts?

Will this be a good era however for new and recent grads as many companies will have no alternative but to hire junior-level resources and train them?

What’s Next

Maintain building your pipeline. Conduct online interviews now. Make offers now. Prepare for virtual on-boarding.

Expect the new normal of 50%+ of your workforce working from home for the foreseeable future, COVID-19 or not. Current staff will expect this. I suspect candidates will turn down offers that don’t include, in writing, high-degrees of remote-work.

If the talent shortage was already bad, is it going to get worse? Will every week you’re not transitioning your business be a week you’re falling further behind?

Is the Talent Race Entering a New Era?

April 13, 2020

Working from Home – Adapting to the New Normal

Working from Home – Adapting to the New Normal

Remote working is our new normal. While many have been happily working fully or partially remote for years, for many more this new reality was thrust upon them.

First some perspective. People who work from home are happier. Many employees switch employers to gain this perk.

  • No commute. Saves 30-120min/day alone
  • Temperate is always right
  • Less office distractions
  • And now not exposed to coworker’s germs or the public-transit traveler’s germs

Best Practices to Become an Efficient Remote Worker

Work must go on. If you have never worked remotely, it is a new fish-out-of-water experience, as I learned when I started working partially remotely in the 90’s. For new comers to work-from-home, and for managers of remote workers, here are some changes to implement:

  • Track output, not hours
  • Get super clear on priorities
  • Have Teams meet minimum weekly on Zoom
  • Set expectations, write it down, and how to complete them
  • Document processes to move work forward. E.g. approval process
  • Set and track milestones. Make work visible.
  • Continue to do postmortems on projects
  • Plan communications, don’t use an adhoc approach
  • Communicate intentionally. There is no water cooler where you would normally overhear discussions that impact you and/or your project
  • Communicate more: Tell people “what” (you’re doing) and “why” (you’re doing it) much more often. Don’t make your team guess.
  • Match your Slack channel to the message & purpose of the content you post
  • It takes longer to discussion issue via chat. Know when to jump to video call
  • If you don’t have dedicated space: ensure your family knows when you’re not available.

Must Have Tools

  1. Collaboration apps. E.g. Gsuite. I love Google Docs, where multiple people can simultaneously edit the same document
  2. Must have a team chat tool. E.g. Slack or MS-Teams
  3. Must have a video conference tool. Zoom is the best!
  4. Project management app – Github. Non tech projects – Trello (these are recommendations to me, I’ve never personally used)
  5. Online training

Communicate in Real Time

  • Setup channels for projects and company news. It’s hard for news to travel informally otherwise.
  • Have key posts consistently labeled “Decisions and To Dos”

How to Run Effective Online Meetings

  • Be on camera. We are a social species and it’s more important as we’re not in-person. Otherwise we can’t see facial expressions which is important in human contact. The first times will be awkward. If you’re in an office still, don’t share a laptop. Reasons: 1. social distancing, 2. individual group members are too small.
  • If you are not on camera, add an avatar. Nothing worse that seeing screen of black boxes.
  • Call out individuals specifically for questions. Calling them out will make them feel part of meeting
  • Allow silence
  • Be careful what you share on your screen. Easy to share other screens or content on screen they you didn’t expect to. My practice is to close all apps/tabs I won’t need during the video meeting.
  • Ask attendees to mute their mic if not speaking
  • Use headphones to block out outside noise if you don’t have a quiet zone

Remote Working Etiquettes

  • Let your colleagues know if you are not available. e.g. Use Slack’s Do Not Disturb
  • You don’t have to respond to chat immediately
  • Put your work away when not working
  • Recognize that not everyone has dedicated space at home for remote working. During your video call you will see the cat, hear a dog bark, and see someone walk by. No big thing.
  • Don’t let go of your company rituals and customs because you’re remote (e.g. send cupcakes on someone’s birthday or have a virtual coffee instead of meeting at the coffee shop)
  • If you have an open-door policy, setup Virtual Office Hours (plenty of calendar apps for others to schedule time with you) or leave your Zoom open and your Zoom ID posted.

Once you’re started working from home, you won’t want to give it up totally anymore.

I provide Open Office Hours here.

Collision Conference 2019

Collision Conference 2019

In May we attended the Collision Conference 2019 in Toronto. Now in its fifth year, Collision is the fastest growing tech conference in North America, and for the first time, in Toronto. Over 25,000 attendees from 125 countries, 730 speakers, and 1100 startups. I learned a lot. Now that the dust has settled, I distilled my previously posted top daily summaries (found in my LinkedIn account) down to the top-3 things learned each day.

Day 1

  1. Snap (Snapchat): The community created 400,000 lenses which were used 15B times in the last ~8months. Their goal is to have the right lens available at the right time
  2. Amazon – To get developers to join your company you have to demonstrate you have an “awesome idea”
  3. “(it’s now) easier to broadcast, harder to get heard” – Dan Gardner

Day 2

  1. Now coining the term “Virtual Talent” (under perpetual employment with you, but 100% remote) instead of “freelancers”. The Future of Work prezo by Taso Du Val @ Toptal
  2. “We haven’t taught (citizens) how to learn new skills (to stay update in today’s employment climate).” – Daphne Koller @ Coursera
  3. Darren Hendler of Digital Domain (they worked on latest Avenger’s movie) asked us to guess which of 6 people (shown) was not human, but CGI generated (hint: none). The Digital Human technology will soon allow a digital version of you to speak autonomously, using content you didn’t necessarily generate. The “you” speaking will appear 100% authentic. Imagine where this could lead…

Day 3

  1. “The war for talent is over. Talent won”. – Sarah Nahm, CEO, Lever
  2. “Invest in your (company’s) culture early” & “Culture is not won & done” – Max Mullen, Co-founder, Instacart
  3. “70M US jobs to be impacted by AI by 2030” – Leagh Turner, President, Ceridian
  4. “Ensure your people understand their impact (on the business)” – Leagh Turner, President, Ceridian (couldn’t not include this 4th item)


Is Your Business Card a Mystery Novel?

Is Your Business Card a Mystery Novel?

Below is an actual stack of biz cards that I collected over a few years. It represents unrealized opportunities.

I recently un-buried myself from all the business cards I’ve collected over the past few years. While filtering through the cards, two ~equally sized piles emerged. The first evolved into two categories of connections:

  1. People whom I’ve stayed connected with, and,
  2. People I see a potential future relationship

The latter is what I call “loose connections”. These are people I intend to stay connected with.The second consisted of connections that did not evolve, I could not identify joint opportunities for us, nor did they. Any potential relationship has seemingly ended. Didn’t get to 2nd base.

But what does this mean? It’s not necessarily a bad thing, just reality of the networking world shaking hands around us.

While taking a second pass over the “did not evolve” stack, it became clear that many simply did not state the value of its owner, just name and coordinates, a mystery novel left for me to unravel.

How do you succinctly communicate your value prop on a biz card? How do you ensure that after the customary exchange of personal identifying rectangular coloured paper has long since past, that someone will actually remember you, what you do and what value you can provide?
Isn’t that what’s it all about?

What are my business card preferences? Beyond the mandatory name, company name & website, and email address, my preferences are:

  • Your Twitter ID
  • Clean and easy to read
  • A logo or style that resembles or embodies what value you provide
  • LinkedIn URLs on the card if your profile is not easily identifiable , otherwise it’s clutter.
  • White space on your card so I can scribble notes on it. I need to write the date, location, and why & where we met. Dark cards or glossy cards that prohibit that.
  • Unique card stock size format
  • I don’t need your street address or fax number

Through Silicon Halton I receive many business cards. How will you help me remember you? My job is connecting talent to employers, people to people, and business to business. I can help you if I clearly know who you are. Don’t write me a mystery novel.

Why You Want To Attract Recruiters Via LinkedIn

Why You Want To Attract Recruiters Via LinkedIn

I often hear from LinkedIn citizens that they’re pestered by recruiters about jobs, how they find it a huge annoyance, unprofessional, spammish, and they won’t reply. But what if recruiters were not contacting you?

Having a recruiter contact you is an affirmation that a) your skills are in demand and b) you can be found. Without both, the professional-you may be approaching the end of it’s shelf life.

Unlike our parents era, no one is looking out for you and your career. This is now your responsibility. You could be tapped on the shoulder tomorrow, or while you’re reading this, that your services are no longer required.

LinkedIn has democratized human capital. Virtually every one in every vertical should be on LinkedIn, whether you’re a professional commercial painter, electrical supplies salesperson, or work in technology, you’re doing yourself a disservice for not being on LinkedIn.

By not being on LinkedIn and/or not sufficiently describing your skills:

  • You’re losing track of solid connections that could help you find your next job (and vise versa)
  • You’re losing track of key connections that would provide references during the hiring process (and vise versa)
  • You’re unable to share your industry, technical or business knowledge to your inner circle, and learn the same from your network. A great way to keep you, and them, up-to-date
  • You’re keeping your salary depressed.
Learn to Let Go: How Success Killed Duke Nukem

Learn to Let Go: How Success Killed Duke Nukem

There is always one more feature to add usually as a result of a customer change request.

Duke Nukem was the first first-person video game. I was ground breaking and crated a legion of players.  However, as with all software, the question of “what’s the next feature?” resulted in promises for this and that new features which would make the game even more compeling. However, the changes were never finished. A number of restarts, scope changes, technology changes, resulted in, missed dates, cancelled projects. This story of Duke Nukem is the best example I’ve read in recent memory of software development gone awry,

As an experience, I created a podcast of the article which appeared in the Janary 2010 edition of Wired Magazine.

Wired – How Success Killed Duke Nukem – p1 (7:10min)
Wired – How Success Killed Duke Nukem – p2 (7:31min)
Wired – How Success Killed Duke Nukem – p3 (7:23min)
Wired – How Success Killed Duke Nukem – p4 (7:26min)

Enjoy the listen.

Source: Wired Magazine – Learn to Let Go: How Success Killed Duke Nukem

By Clive Thompson, Wired Magazine, January 2010, Features 18.01