How IT Service Companies Are Hiring IT Engineers Since COVID

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During the pandemic, the unemployment rate jumped to 14.8% in April 2020. A year later, the rate is 5.8% which is still higher than the 3.5% in February 2020. According to an article in Harvard Business Review, the traditional economics of unemployment cannot be applied to the current job market.  In the past, high unemployment meant more people were looking for jobs, making it an employer’s market. Low unemployment was indicative of an employee’s market.

Those metrics no longer apply as many job applicants are looking for employment using very different criteria. Some applicants relocated for family-related reasons and are planning on staying closer to home. Others moved because they lost their jobs and are living with friends or family while looking for work closer to where they’re currently living. A significant number of employees want the continued flexibility of working from home, while others want a 40-hour workweek. They are tired of 40 hours growing to 60. They want balance.

As job applicants’ expectations have changed since 2019, so have employers’. They are still looking for the most technically qualified candidate, but they are also looking for soft skills such as communications and problem-solving because these are skills that successful remote workers have. They look to hire employees that are adaptable to hybrid or in-person work. Most importantly, employers are looking for people that fit their corporate culture.

When interviewers and applicants cannot meet in person, how do they bridge the gap between nuanced face-to-face communications and remote interviews using Teams or Zoom? How has technology helped, and what challenges does it create when trying to fill a job opening with the best candidate?

Recruiting Software

Covid accelerated the use of technology in every industry, including recruiting software. As the hiring process became more remote, human resources had to look to digital solutions for recruitment. Many packages were upgraded and enhancements made to fit the evolving business landscape. Now, the focus is on reinventing the process.

Reinventing the recruitment process means looking at how jobs are posted, interviews conducted, and assessments made. It requires rethinking how to value candidates’ experiences and how well they fit with the corporate culture. These processes are further complicated by the volume of resumes that are submitted for a single opening.

Automation tools can make sorting through the volume of applicants less labor-intensive. Recruiting solutions can help with follow-up emails and can track where applicants are in the hiring process. For companies trying to hire 100s of workers, knowing where each person is in the process is an impossible task without a digital tool. 

Video Conferencing

The rise in the number of Zoom users is a testament to how essential digital communications became as a result of Covid-19. With more people working from home, conferencing technology, especially with video, became the only method of staying connected. It also became the go-to solution for job interviews. According to Scott Gallupe of 403Tech, hiring since the pandemic has been much more challenging.

No longer are we meeting people face to face and shaking their hands. We are running Microsoft Teams conferences to interview new hires and the ability to meet someone for the first time over a video call has proven to be interesting — to say the least. It is harder to gauge someone’s interest and body language. It is harder to convey some messaging over a video call, and it is harder to view their level of interest since they aren’t right in front of you.

To compensate for the lack of in-person meetings, some companies again turned to technology. To give potential candidates a feel for the corporate culture and work environment, companies such as Facebook created virtual reality tours. During these tours, they identified buildings and their uses so applicants had an idea of what in-person work would be like. 

Digital Onboarding

Once an offer was accepted, employees and employers faced the challenge of onboarding remotely. As Matt Bullock of Accelera IT Solutions pointed out,

We hired three technicians in 2020. Because of the pandemic, we had to be willing to hire a completely remote employee and not have them in our office for their initial training.  This resulted in a much slower onboarding process and a slower advancement through the required technology certifications.

Companies have been delivering onboarding software and training programs for years, but few were designed for a fully remote workforce. The existing solutions were based on the assumption that in-person interaction would happen outside the onboarding process. There would be new hire lunches, team meetings, and cube mates to help make the new employees feel more at home.

For example, new employees signed their hiring paperwork and didn’t hear from the employer until a week before their start date. That communication was an email telling the employee what time and where to report on the first day. Now, onboarding teams stay in contact with employees by sending links to company podcasts or YouTube videos, many designed specifically for new employees. The teams check in with new hires daily to keep the communication channels working.

Technology makes it possible for companies to keep up with the added communication demands for a successful onboarding experience. Parts of the process can be automated, freeing the team for one-on-one interaction. Training or eLearning software is available that can move individuals through training courses as quickly as possible.

Moving Forward

Remote work has become a part of the employment landscape, with the majority of employees wanting the flexibility to work from home at least part-time. For that to happen, employers will need technology. Whether it is VPN connectivity or enhanced security, employers and employees will have to rely on solutions such as cloud-based infrastructures and VoIP technology to make it work.The shift in how and where people work also takes a change in mindset. As llan Sredni of Palindrome Consulting said, the difficulty is “finding ways to interact and integrate remote staff.” In some ways, companies need to view the new work environment as bringing the company to the talent rather than forcing the talent to come to the company. To learn more about how technology is changing the hiring process, contact us.

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