Expectations VS Reality: how COVID-19 changed the labor market

23.12.2020 Alex

COVID-19 is the loudest topic all over the world, and it’s no surprise. No one expected the global pandemic to come in the XXI century — and bring the global crisis along. IT folks are required everywhere like never before: when the business is urgently moving online, IT is the sphere that provides this migration and helps build up new processes.



However, the crisis doesn’t go easy on the IT sector either. Many IT companies, just as well as other businesses, had to move a significant percentage of the workers to home offices. They faced the same new challenges and problems that the uncertainty brings within.


If talking about the employment and labor market, the pandemic has certainly made its adjustments. As a recruiting agency, we felt every up and down and bum of the coronavirus hiring. What should companies keep in mind when hiring an IT folk in 2020?


Won’t get any cheaper

Expectations: When in crisis, people tend to get unemployed and sort of desperate for a position. Plus many companies went bankrupt or significantly cut their expenses. Perhaps, a decent specialist would say “yes” to a sum smaller than the usual.


Reality: According to statistics, about 73% of IT-companies in Russia have indexed the wages, and 10% more are about to do so. This means there’s no visible drawdown that could affect the price of the specialists. Not only did quite a lot of companies sustain their wage level, but they also managed to raise it as planned.


Moreover, the demand for candidates is only growing. The hiring campaigns were frozen during spring because everyone was afraid of making serious decisions. However, the hiring plans for the year stay the same, and autumn becomes the season when companies are looking for numerous candidates to fill up the positions. HR is facing the peak load, and the market demands more candidates. But there are none of them, and so people become a lacking resource that you have to fight for.



The choice is a matter of value

Expectations: Our company has a nice huge office with a parking lot. We always provide fresh coffee and homemade cookies. Also, as a benefit, we offer a nearby gym’s membership, language courses in-house, and brand-new monitors — two for each employee. It always worked before, so why to change it — candidates love it.


Reality: All of the above is very neat. However, with the whole world going remote it’s more important to be sure that these two monitors can be delivered to your home office rather than stay at your working desk.


The priorities of the candidates are shifting from those of office life to the ones that are not so tightly connected to the particular place. A remote worker won’t study English in the office or use the gym when it’s closed — that means, they are basically stripped off all their job benefits. That’s why now the “cafeteria” system is gaining popularity. “Cafeteria” suggests that the company allocates the personal budget for every worker to spend on the things they want. Healthcare, monitor, a new chair for the home office — whatever seems appropriate and necessary for the worker at home.



Effective communication above all

Expectations: We are a cohesive friendly team that knows its way around tricky questions and tasks. There are always enough conference rooms for calls and meetings, and many solutions come to us in discussion at the office kitchen. Most of those things are left offline but oh, well, isn’t it global?


Reality: Remote work is a major challenge for most companies. With all the Scrum and Agile practices, communications between the teams and inside the company are crucial for work effectiveness. Now, managers are responsible for building and maintaining an effective and tuned online communication system.


One can’t simply enter the room screaming “it’s downtime, we need to fix it” and thus start the process. If the server is down, and no one knows about it, it’s clearly a communication issue in the online notifications. No one wants to be single-handedly responsible for downtime, so a candidate will surely ask about how communications are held and performed in an online office.



Competitiveness for a single specialist grows

Expectations: Due to the crisis, there are fewer companies around, and stability is the main value. No one believes in small young companies when times are hard. If one has brand and market history, one is safe, the candidates won’t turn away.


Reality: Brand name, company’s size, dozens of years on the market — all these points are now being moved to the background during COVID-19. We witnessed how tech leads from a stable major company have all migrated to a small fitness startup. Why? There are two major reasons:


  1. the startup develops an app for home sports training, which became super popular over the lockdown;

  2. the startup managed to adjust to new candidates’ priorities and demands, so they simply offered better conditions.

The point is not in changing the direction of development completely but in an adequate evaluation of your positions on the market made in time. With the new paradigm coming we also observe the change in the longstanding ratings of the companies. Know your main competitors in the face to be ready to withstand the rating rallies.


All the spheres now bear the imprint of the coronavirus crisis but this effect is not always bad. Candidates not only get chosen but they also get to choose, and the crisis didn’t affect the balance of power between employer and employee. However the accents are shifted, and the constant evaluation of the company’s positions and rapid response to the changes are vital for those who want to keep the current workers and hire new strong ones.




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