Hiring in the age of COVID: Key lessons learned

Almost two-thirds of companies now interview, hire and onboard entirely remotely — and it’s yielding some positive results. IT leaders who are hiring aggressively lend insights into the new paradigm.

Hiring in the age of COVID: Key lessons learned
Blue Shield of California

On the first of October, CIO Lisa Davis welcomed 13 new IT hires, some of them fresh out of college, to their first day of work at Blue Shield of California. The new arrivals peppered her with questions ranging from whether the company issued acronym dictionaries to decipher all of its abbreviations, to tips on how to begin building their internal network. Common questions, but in the age of COVID they’ve taken on particular urgency since this meeting is being held via Webex and the new hires will be working from home.

For some of these new hires, “This is their first workplace, and they’ve never really integrated before.” For the entire group, “They’re trying to understand the culture because they won’t be observing or watching people around the watercooler,” says Davis, who has hired 60 people so far this year, with a goal of 150 new hires.

It’s a familiar scenario. COVID-19 has forced companies to make changes to the way it interviews, hires and onboards IT staff. According to a survey of 2,800 senior managers by HR consulting firm Robert Half, 63% of US companies have turned to remote interviews and onboarding since the pandemic started, up from 12% pre-pandemic; 48% have shortened their hiring process; and 49% now advertise fully remote jobs, up from 12% before the pandemic.

While COVID has certainly impacted hiring over the past six months, “I think we’ve seen a shift more in how to hire versus whether or not to hire,” says Ryan Sutton, district president for technology staffing services in the Northeast at Robert Half.

The state of IT hiring

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