The COVID-19 crisis has caused overnight shifts in how Silicon Valley companies hire and work with employees. Overall, the tech community is realizing that talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not—and hiring practices post-COVID-19 will be forced to catch up to this truth. As we consider how the pandemic will impact our lives, here are five ways hiring in Silicon Valley will change forever.
Silicon Valley’s network effect will weaken
More than 69,000 startup employees have been laid off since March, the majority of whom are based in Silicon Valley. It’s very unlikely that they will land a job in the same city or state they reside in. I’d guess at least 25% to 30% will be open to remote work now, versus waiting for the perfect opportunity in a 10- to 20-mile radius. This will disperse great technical talent across the country (if not around the globe), weakening the network effect that’s historically come from tech employees’ geographical proximity to each other. At the same time, this dispersion of talent will enable excellent products to be built anywhere. This has been slowly happening for a while, but the pandemic will be a huge catalyst.
Silicon Valley-headquartered companies will start to do better on diversity
As companies become adept at building their remote operations, the size and diversity of the talent pool they can choose from dramatically increases. Major tech companies have been trying to make their workforces more diverse and inclusive for years, but the number of Black or Latinx technical employees at Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft has increased by less than a percentage point since 2014—a problem that’s come into sharp focus in recent weeks. The aftermath of COVID-19 may change this. As companies begin to hire based on candidate skills instead of location or pedigree, they can build more diverse teams, which will result in better products. For this to work, though, companies must also make concerted efforts to foster inclusive cultures.
University career fairs will be like taxis
Career fairs will still exist, but they’ll be a dwindling market. Most new graduate and intern hiring will be virtual, while on-campus booths will dramatically decrease due to social distancing measures and the fact that many universities and companies will never return to the old normal.
This will be a boon to companies and candidates alike. Right now, companies artificially constrain their talent pools in search of the next Zuckerberg, while the country’s best coders are actually at schools such as Arizona State, USC, and UC Irvine. Companies unable to recruit based on geography and pedigree will now start to rely on actual skills, a far better indicator of ultimate success, thus democratizing access to the tech industry.
A new role focused on enabling remote work will emerge
Just like the rise of roles in talent acquisition ops in recent years, remote tech ops will be a new position focused on helping companies manage and transform the remote aspect of their company. This includes setting up the right infrastructure for meetings, documentation guidelines, tools for hiring, onboarding, and more. At the very least, there will be a lot of consultants that companies will hire to build out their remote wing.
Like VC partner meetings, onsite interviews will be formalities
When a company raises venture capital money, the final step is to meet with all the partners of the VC firm. Unless you do really badly or something goes wrong with your background checks, you are virtually guaranteed a term sheet. The on-site-meeting-to-term-sheet-offer ratio is close to 80%, on average.
Compare that with the on-site-candidate-interview-to-job-offer ratio in the recruiting world. Thirty percent is a success. After the pandemic, the bar for a company to offer an onsite interview to a candidate will be much higher because the majority of the technical evaluation process will be done remotely. Onsite interviews will be used only to do a final team and company fit assessment and include a presentation round where the candidate walks through a project. If nothing significant goes wrong, a job offer will be expected.
Vivek Ravisankar is the CEO of HackerRank.