When the stock market crashed in 2008, I was living and working in Franklin Township, New Jersey—that state that also served as a data hub for the financial holdings company Lehman Brothers Inc. During the ensuing “Great Recession,” I did what I could as friends lost their jobs and homes, as anxiety skyrocketed and lines for the Franklin Food Bank spilled into the streets.
I was there when it happened, so trust me when I say another U.S. recession is on the horizon. Despite reports that consumer spending is up, unemployment is low, and wages are rising, plenty of other indicators are incredibly troubling. Employment rates have slowed, and so have sales of big ticket consumer items such as houses and cars. Combine those factors with a turbulent stock market and the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, and you have all the ingredients for another economic downturn.
Let me repeat: A recession is coming, even if we don’t know when. If like me, you manage tech talent resources and acquisition, the question you should be asking is, “What can I do?”
What Does Another Recession Mean for Tech and IT Hiring?
The previous U.S. recession ended a decade ago, so it’s likely that many companies will respond sluggishly when another arrives. This is doubly troubling for small companies with severe tech requirements, such as members of the insurance industry. Last time, financial giants received bailouts and tech giants took advantage of the changing landscape. But smaller companies hardly fared so well.
Today, with tech employment near full capacity, hiring new talent is a challenge—as most qualified people who want to be employed already are—so you might think a recession could bring some good along with the bad. Having plenty of fresh, qualified candidates flooding your inbox might be a nice change, right?
Be aware that not all of those candidates will have the qualifications you need. And to avoid the risk of tunnel vision, we must not over-emphasize on-paper qualifications. If we focus too much on that, as we sometimes do when faced with large numbers of candidates, we risk hiring people who are not a good fit for the company. Candidates who won’t last or create value.
Recession-Proofing Your Future
Here’s some good news: IT is one of the most resilient fields there is. Regardless of the state of the economy, companies need professionals who specialize in computer systems and technology. For example, during the Great Recession, Apple and Amazon used their existing capital and innovative foresight to establish a foothold and dominate tech markets. They transformed the way we shop online and surf the web, creating the dynamic digital economy we have today.
This world is still changing in the wake of those events, and faster than ever. And while there are a number of ways to prepare for the upcoming economic downturn—from adopting a hiring model based on values rather than qualifications to working with a third-party IT staffing firm like Amzur—perhaps the most surefire way to handle hard times is to get ahead of the curve.
So where are we headed? What’s the next big thing? Is it in energy, where a new wave of satellites could beam solar energy down to Earth? Is it AI-driven machine learning in hospitals, which can provide predictive analysis of prognosis and life expectancy? Or is it cleaner groundwater, the technology for which is already under development at the Department of Defense?
Don’t forget: A recession is coming, whether it’s next month or next year. If you aren’t prepared, you could start losing talent you’re unable to effectively replace. But, with the right preparation, good partners, and a dash of innovation, your company could do more than simply weather the storm. You could come out on top.
Sam Velu, Head of IT Talent Acquisition at Amzur Technologies, is an industry veteran with over 20 years in the staffing business. At Amzur, Velu specializes in promoting high-quality and high-value technology services that optimize business growth. He values community and economic advancement, as shown when he served on the Hamilton Business District in Franklin, New Jersey, to attract new businesses to invest in the city.