Why a recession is the right time to hire

Hiring for Tech
April 6, 2020

A student with a book covering their face out of frustration

Current students are worth hiring right now, when they’re available. Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

The economic impact of COVID-19 has caused job losses across industries. Tech workers are lucky we can work remotely, but lockdown-induced decreases in demand and general financial uncertainty have led to layoffs in tech companies both small and large. Many more companies have enacted hiring freezes.

Not every company can survive the current situation without changes, based purely on their finances and their product domain. But in this article, I hope I can convince you, if your company can afford it, now is the right time to double-down on hiring.

Entry-level talent

The class of 2020 is experiencing a rough year. Their education has abruptly transitioned to online classes, they don’t get to have a normal graduation ceremony, and they’re entering a very hostile job market. Some of these circumstances apply to current college students looking for internships, and other entry-level engineers (bootcamp graduates, for example) looking for their first break.

Which is why you should scoop up these talented folks now. If you couldn’t compete with the tech giants before, now you can grab the entry-level talent you didn’t have access to before. It’s true you have to invest heavily in these folks, but on the flipside, they can work on whatever you need them to. In a time when priorities are changing fast, that’s a real strength.

Senior talent now on the market

The other group of people you have access to now is senior talent who got laid off. These are people who would rarely be on the job market. They would not be fired because they’re good at what they do, and once they find a company that treats them well, they don’t switch for a while.

Because some companies just happen to be in industries strongly affected by the current situation, they are forced to let go of good people. Good people you should hire, if you can afford them.

It’s understandable why many companies have stopped hiring: financial stress, losses in productivity due to forced work-from-home (especially with kids around), and shifts in priorities. But for any company that can hire, this can be a huge opportunity to hire talent they don’t have access to otherwise.

Just be clear: I’m not advocating companies exploit the people they hire at this time, given those folks may be desperate for employment. Instead, in an industry that competes for the best talent, they may now have a level playing field with the tech giants and flashy startups.

(Usual disclaimer: my opinions are my own and don’t reflect those of my employer.)