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