The ability of any business to survive a major crisis – whether economic, geopolitical, and/or public health – depends on attracting and retaining incredible people. Only when employees are thinking of solutions that will take their employers through the eye of the storm will businesses withstand the worst of the prevailing rough waters.
Since the turbulence of events like the COVID-19 pandemic or other crises often influence the talent pool, it’s essential for executives and senior management to adjust their talent acquisition strategies to new circumstances and standards. Here is what you need to know about the impact of the coronavirus on IT employment – and what your business can do to maintain a healthy talent pipeline now and in the future.
1.) IT Employment Fluctuates
Though job numbers and the unemployment rate for the IT sector are typically healthier than the U.S. median, both have been influenced by COVID-19. At first, the steady growth of IT positions nationwide indicated that tech jobs might be exempt from the worst economic effects of the pandemic. From December 2019 to June 2020, there was a healthy rise in job numbers, but eventually the bubble burst, and we’ve seen a substantial decline since.
Additionally, IT unemployment experienced a COVID-19 related spike, jumping from 2.4% in March 2020 to 4.6% in August 2020. In the October 2020 CompTIA IT Employment Tracker, unemployment numbers are dwindling again.
Both elements of IT employment may have stabilized for now, but the outcome of the next few months has the potential to cause greater fluctuation. For savvy executives, this is a golden opportunity. More top IT professionals are reentering the job market – even if only for a brief moment. Those companies with the resources to track the career path of exceptional talent or with connections to an IT staffing company with an extensive network can capitalize on the fluidity of the job market to acquire A-players.
2.) IT Workers Leaving Tech Hubs
One unintended consequence of COVID-19 has been a decentralization of the workforce. A survey of 4,400 IT professionals completed in August 2020 showed that two-thirds either have or plan to relocate outside of tech hubs as work from home becomes the new normal. Upward of 45% of working professionals in San Francisco, New York City, and Seattle metropolitan areas would move out of the metro city or even to a different state if given the opportunity.
Now that remote work is normalized, more tech professionals are considering the suburbs, smaller metropolitan, or even gateway communities on the edge national parks as more affordable than traditional tech hubs. Businesses capable of attracting top talent will need to embrace a decentralized workforce, leverage contract workers to satisfy any temporary needs, or increase their overall compensation.
3.) H-1B Revamp is Underway
Beyond the immediate effects of the pandemic, IT hiring strategies will likely be impacted by further proposed changes to the H-1B Visa program by the Department of Homeland Security. The stated objective of the revised interim final rule is to “make sure the American worker is put first.” With the intent of achieving this end, the new rules will be designed to narrow the broad definition of “specialty occupation” and monitor compliance.
This will greatly restrict the number of H-1B holders allowed into the U.S. to only those with unique and hard-to-find talent. During the current administration, H-1B denial rates increased considerably with FYI 2020 hitting a new high of 29%. Often, large companies submit the most visas, directly impacting the ability of tech giants to acquire their desired candidates, but there will be a trickle-down effect as those businesses hire professionals who might have otherwise gone with mid-sized organizations. As a result, competition for domestic IT talent will only increase.
IT Employment Is Changing
With these factors in mind, we believe that it’s essential to reexamine IT talent strategies to hire and retain the necessary workforce to move forward. Organizations eager to adjust to urgent or contemporary challenges will need to consider alternative recruiting and hiring practices. If your business or the right partner can do that, you’ll have little trouble acquiring the subject matter expertise necessary for success today and in the future.
Want to adapt to the pandemic and overcome the impact of the coronavirus on IT employment? Reach out to your team to accelerate your capacity for bigger things!