Remember this past January? Remember how the economy was booming, and the biggest obstacle to your hiring strategy was finding available talent during a time of low unemployment? That was obviously about 800 years ago, even though the calendar says it’s only been five months – we’re not sure how that math adds up.
In any case, to state the obvious: Things have changed. Between March 11 and May 8, the Guardian reports, the tech startup world saw more than 42,000 layoffs across 375 companies. And it wasn’t just startups: reductions at Lyft, Airbnb, Yelp, and elsewhere showed that large tech companies weren’t immune from the economic effects of the pandemic.
“There are signs that, at least in some corners of the tech industry, hiring is starting to pick back up. A number of our partners who froze their hiring in April are now opening some headcount and reaching out to us to find talent.”
These numbers, though, don’t tell the whole story. There are signs that, at least in some corners of the tech industry, hiring is starting to pick back up. A number of our partners who froze their hiring in April are now opening some headcount and reaching out to us to find talent. The dominant narrative out there is that current hiring best practices call for not doing any hiring at all. But if you’ve been nimble enough and have done the necessary restructuring to remain stable throughout all of this, then now might actually be the perfect time to reactivate your hiring strategy and bring on new talent.
Let’s explore this somewhat counterintuitive idea.
The current talent market is a goldmine
Until this year, top talent was hard to come by. Unemployment was less than 4%, and most of the best go-to-market professionals were locked away in full-time jobs. It was a candidate’s market, and companies had to compete aggressively with one another to lock down what little talent was actually available. Candidates, meanwhile, had leverage to demand generous compensation, making it costly for companies to hire them.
The layoffs of the last few months have sent much of that talent pouring onto the market. The pandemic has shaken the talent tree, and the fruit has fallen all around you. It’s been a long time since top-quality talent was so readily available. Now is the time to consider whether you have room for new hires on your team – even if you have to move some things around to make it work. Whether in the near term or the long term, it’ll likely pay off.
“Remember last year, when all you needed to close that big target account was a mid-market Account Executive who had previously worked at one of your top competitors, but you couldn’t find one who was willing to leave their current company? Or when your company was this close to breaking your own NPS record, but you struggled to hire enough Customer Success Managers to get over the line? There’s a pretty good chance those people are available right now, as you read this.”
This is especially true for go-to-market hires. TechCrunch reports that “sales and customer success roles are the most affected by post-coronavirus startup layoffs.” Remember last year, when all you needed to close that big target account was a mid-market Account Executive who had previously worked at one of your top competitors, but you couldn’t find one who was willing to leave their current company? Or when your company was this close to breaking your own NPS record, but you struggled to hire enough Customer Success Managers to get over the line?
There’s a pretty good chance those people are available right now, as you read this. And with so many companies still putting their hiring strategies on hold, you can probably lock them down without a lot of competition.
The best hiring strategy right now? Strike while the iron is hot.
If you’re in a position to hire right now, things are indeed good. But they might not stay that way. There are indications that the pace of layoffs is slowing down. As ABC News reports, first-time unemployment applications are now on an 8-week decline. That’s obviously fantastic news for the economy, and for professionals everywhere – and we welcome it. But it’s also likely to be followed by companies starting to hire again, and taking that newly-available talent right back off the market. You might soon face competition from other companies looking to scoop up some of the talent that just entered the market. Our advice? Hire now, before that happens.
To be honest, it looks like it’s already started. As previously mentioned, right here at Betts we’ve seen many companies make quick pivots from freezing hiring or even laying off workers to starting to fill their talent pipeline back up a bit. One plausible explanation: When the pandemic began, companies went through excessive layoffs out of an abundance of caution, not knowing how bad things would get and just generally dealing with the stress of an unfamiliar situation. Then, once they got more clarity around how businesses were adapting and what the new normal might look like, they calibrated back, and have now started bringing people on again. We of course don’t expect a completely V-shaped recovery, but something is indeed happening.
Whatever your hiring strategy, it’s key to understand the opportunity presented by this moment. There’s a big window open right now, but it’s closing quickly. If you can find room on your team for new go-to-market talent, there are plenty of reasons why now is the time to start making that investment.