Can we all agree that the state of the Technology Employment Market has changed drastically over the past four months? And for the record, I am not referring to the pure Technology Companies; those can be for another conversation. The COVID Pandemic has had a rippling effect that will last for many years. Regardless of where you live, where you work or who you are, you have seen or felt the impact. The truth is that no one knows what is to come or what to expect. Economic experts will tell us many things are around the corner, but not where the corner is. Are there any guarantees from what they tell us? No one truly knows. What we do know is that things are far from where they were a short time ago.
Seemingly overnight, the Technology Consulting industry went from a candidate-driven market to an employer-driven market. Industries that once held home to the ‘appealing’ places to work are struggling to stay afloat. Four months ago, candidates would come to companies like AIM Consulting, essentially dictating what they wanted. In many of these cases, things were more than fair, but sometimes they seemed unrealistic. Many employers would hesitantly take them on anyway, given that consultants were hard to identify, only to find out that the employer needed this type of candidate so bad that they were willing to make exceptions to get it done. However, in a historically short time, the tables turned.
Within a single week, the transformation happened. As the unemployment numbers exploded, the number of available candidates became abundant. For candidates, it was now a case of needing to be employed versus wanting to get as much as they could. Consulting companies shifted to do whatever they could to keep their employees on projects. Focusing on the company’s workforce, bottom line, and protecting the number of consultants on billing. So why was this?
In our unique position within the nation’s economy, we saw both sides of the table. We saw many of our clients take dramatic hits to revenue as the world shut down. Our retail and travel industry partners saw revenue streams dry up with no real timeline to recovery, dropping revenue by 95% in some cases. What happens to those employees, those consultants? Tough decisions had to be made. Progressive projects and fun additions were scrapped. It was about survival for many of these companies. We have all seen the headlines, experienced or been close to layoffs, skyrocketing unemployment, and read countless articles like Forbes – Forecasting In Uncertainty: What The US Job Market Report Tells Us About The Tech Market Outlook, which all portray the same situation, companies are in a scramble. Like AIM, consulting companies are searching to ensure those affected find other engagements, keeping food on the table. The problem was (and remains), fewer companies are hiring, at least temporarily. The rates, location, skillsets…, had to be flexible on the part of the consultant. The employer, not the employee, was now directing the show.
What about the places these consultants want to work? This used to be a choice. Candidates would often pick from four, five, even six different options. I already mentioned that specific industries were basically put in a corner. This remains true to this day. Retail, travel, restaurants…all on the back burner, with slow progress. Individual outliers have been able to make it work and are still hiring but understandably at a much lower volume. So why is this? First, many things are literally shut down. This should change. But secondly, items that people’ want’ have shifted to something that people’ need.’ People want to travel, but they either can’t because of restrictions or won’t because of their uncertain future with regard to employment. The same goes for that new pair of pants or that new outdoor equipment. The list goes on. On the flip side, people need healthcare, groceries, and ‘things to pass the time.’ And yes, ‘things that pass the time’ are now in the ‘need’ category. As a father of two kids, a rainy day in the summer of 2020 requires entertainment for the children, especially if we are lucky enough to be in the position to try to save our jobs. This brings us back to the types of employers that are now hiring. E-Commerce, healthcare, grocery outlets, gaming, and electronic suppliers are the places that are left flourishing.
Healthcare, grocery, gaming, and electronic suppliers? These are broad industries, right? They sure are. And several of these companies are now figuring out that they can survive and grow as we continue to move forward. Many of these companies are new to THIS level of cash flow. Could these industries keep professionals such as Engineers and Project Managers employed through this?
One important thing to take away from this is that it is now ‘considered a privilege’ to be employed. Millions of people are unemployed. Be grateful if you have a job and empathetic to those who don’t. No one saw these coming, and times have changed in the blink of an eye. Things will eventually rebound; they always do if history repeats itself…and it usually does. Will things look different? Indeed, they already do.
As an employer, be mindful that people want to get back to work. As a consultant, be aware that you may need to be flexible with pay, location, companies, etc. when searching for a new position. Pay attention to what recruiters are telling you. If a recruiter has made it through this epidemic, they have most likely seen more elements of this show than you have!
From Chaos Comes Order. In every disaster, some thrive. Some find opportunities, and others are handed them. Regardless of how the opportunity comes, the ones that are determined will flourish. AIM Consulting started in 2007. Does anyone remember that period in our history? Right smack dab in the middle of a recession, AIM was just getting started and was here for those that needed support. We grew rapidly in the middle of a nightmare, helping many people. We found an opportunity; we were not handed it. We are doing that again. Order will come at the end of this chaos, and we will be here, working for our clients and our consultants. We have experience in this type of economic climate and the drive to get things done. Our teams are some of the most empathetic, hardworking folks you will ever meet, and we understand both the consultant and the employer. How? Because we are both!