What hiring freeze? The startups recruiting in a recession

For certain tech companies, there's plenty of reason to keep bringing in the talent.
9 April 2020

CEO at collaboration tool company Trello, Michael Pryor speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt. Source: AFP

Every Thursday, the US Department of Labor sends out a weekly memo, compiling together unemployment rates based on reports from the country’s 50 states. 

To date, a record of 6.6 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits following the novel coronavirus outbreak. COVID-19 has not only put a strain on the fragile healthcare system but it’s also struck the nation’s economy. 

With global markets facing the reality of uncertainty, many organisations will have frozen talent spend, and hiring and interviews are expected to be unlikely scenes for many jobseekers. However, Jai Sajnani, a principal at New Enterprise Associates (a venture capital firm), revealed that hiring remains strong among a number of tech startups. 

As reported in Forbes, Sajnani created a Google Forms database filled with available positions across various industries in the tech startup scene. 

Out of the 180 startups in the database, over 50 percent of all the listings are advertised by enterprise tech companies. 

According to the PitchBook data compiled for Bloomberg, venture capitalists continue to dig and scout for enterprise tech companies specializing in software or services for businesses.

As a result, enterprise tech attracted up to US$30.42 billion in funds, about 33 percent more than regular consumer technology companies. 

Having secure funding in place and possibly a surplus of capital, tech startups are able to keep job listings open and products in development, ready to capitalize in a recovering market. 

Opportunity in the market

Some of those companies open for applications include BondFrame.ioGitlabHealthVerityHuggingface.coMiro.

With the full list available here, portion of  the companies hiring are familiar faces, they’re the pioneers and innovators of collaboration tools and remote working platform solutions.

The sudden influx of companies shifting from brick-and-mortar offices to makeshift home stations is driving demand for remote working solutions — and these new remote players are open to scouring the market for better and more cost-effective solutions. 

With 40 percent of enterprises pouring in money to prepare their organizations for remote working, the time for startups in this market to strike is now – that means hiring the talent to make things happen fast. 

More importantly, remote working solutions are expected to endure beyond the pandemic and are perceived to have a lasting impact on future workplaces, rather than just exist as a quick fix for the current climate. Many companies are anticipating the work from home culture to be increasingly pervasive after the pandemic recedes. 

Bolstering the ranks now means these startups have a running start, as remote or flexible working becomes a consideration for even just a large chunk of organizations.

Digital natives, Digital tools

Besides aiming to be at the forefront of an emerging market, most tech startups are already acclimatized to remote or flexible working styles, both in terms of company culture and technical execution. 

They know the ins and outs of systems and the particular configurations that best fit their company’s workflow and processes.

They are, by nature, equipped to work virtually and can easily adapt to full-scale remote working with minimal downtime, and are experienced with on-boarding candidates virtually. 

As such, business productivity will be less affected by the crisis, and hiring operations can continue. 

The hometown of some of the biggest names in tech – including and certainly not limited to Apple, Google, Tesla, and Netflix — Silicon Valley, is widely known as the worldwide tech hub. 

However, inhabitants of the leading tech hub are recognizing the need for diversity and moving away from a Silicon Valley-centric model to assemble their A-teams. Instead, these companies are expanding their recruitment to national talent pools – remote working makes that possible.

Future-forward at core

Tech startups are inherently ambitious, forward-thinking and innovative beasts, knowing that under the hood of an economic downturn there are always opportunities of untapped markets and avenues. 

The only option is to go forward and to lead against competitors once business resumes to the new norm. Hiring actively now at a time of disruption is simply anticipating a calm after the storm.