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Navigating The Tech Hiring Climate: Perspectives from Jason Skidmore, CEO of Vernovis

Jason Skidmore

If you’ve noticed that finding tech talent to fill open positions has been particularly difficult recently, you’re not alone. The job market, particularly in IT,  has shown an upward trajectory in its demand for technology professionals, and it’s expected to grow twice as fast as the overall U.S. workforce in the next ten years.

Jason Skidmore, the co-founder and CEO of Vernovis, a leading staffing service in the Midwest specializing in IT and accounting, says that the market has been challenging. “When you look at the current state of the technology job market, there has been a meager supply of qualified technology candidates and fairly high demand for professionals,” he explains.

For more than 15 years, Jason and his team at Vernovis have bucked the stereotype of the largely impersonal and highly transactional staffing company by taking a much more relational approach to staffing services for both hiring companies and job seekers. 

Whether Vernovis is providing staff augmentation, contract-to-hire, or direct placement services, the team has leaned into the idea that they are brokering very important relationships between the buyers (employers) and the people selling their services (the contractors/future employees of that organization).

In an industry known for its largely impersonal and transactional nature, Jason and his team have differentiated themselves by being a staffing agency deeply rooted in meaningful relationships built on trust.

Jason’s deep connections and years of experience as a leader in high-touch, high-service service staffing solutions have given him perceptive insight into the nuances of the job market. We asked him for his thoughts on the climate for those navigating it. 

What Makes Today’s Technology Job Market Unique?

Jason explains the ebbs and flows once characteristics of the typical job market haven’t materialized in recent years as expected. “When we compare this job market to other periods,  we expect demand to be somewhat cyclical. There would be periods of high demand and low supply, as we see now, and then there would be periods of low demand and a little bit more supply with job seekers available and looking to make a change. Interestingly, we’ve seen a prolonged, sustained period of high demand and low supply. Even though there are macroeconomic indicators at play,” Jason explains. “For example, the US GDP is increasing; typically, when this happens, our industry also increases. We would see a higher demand for talent. I don’t know that we’re necessarily seeing crazy demand, but we’re still seeing higher demand relative to what’s happening in the market.”

At the same time, while demand is high, fewer people are looking for employment in technology. Jason says that most professionals are already employed, which changes the industry’s dynamic. One notable example is contracting within IT and technology organizations. 

“Typically, during periods of lower demand but high supply, contracting would be a vehicle companies use to absorb talent without having to hire directly. Contractors are brought in for a period of time to get projects done and drive important initiatives. While contracting is still a big part of what goes on in the tech industry, it hasn’t grown as much as we would expect. However, companies have a high appetite for hiring technology professionals directly onto their teams, bringing them in and really trying to secure their services for the long haul,” says Jason.

In addition to the high percentage of employment among technology professionals, other factors contribute to the low supply of skilled workers. Jason says that conditions that have led to the shortage are nothing new.

“There are many of the same contributing factors we’ve seen in the industry for over a decade now. We just can’t produce enough technology professionals, whether coming out of traditional schools, like colleges and universities or going through trade programs to get training. We just need more people interested in entering the technology workforce.” 

Jason thinks more people are entering, largely due to an increase in the training and education programs that produce new, qualified workers. However, the demand for highly skilled talent is still outpacing the supply; it’s outpacing the number of people entering it.

How Companies Can Adapt to the Job Market  

While some companies have adapted new hiring practices to the current market conditions, others still need to. Jason says that those who are not making changes in their hiring practices are falling behind. How have traditional hiring practices changed in response to the challenges of today’s tech market? 

Jason says the companies that are more successful in landing top talent are prioritizing efficiency. “What savvy companies realize in this competitive tech job market is that the best talent has multiple opportunities available to them at any given time. If a professional is actively looking for a new job, they’re probably interviewing for multiple positions simultaneously. And, quite honestly, some of them may already have an offer in hand, but they’re still interviewing to see if they can get something that’s just a slightly better fit than the offer that they have.” 

Jason continues, “Companies that are succeeding are leaning into the idea that they must know exactly what they’re looking for. They need a highly efficient screening process that doesn’t drag on for weeks or months. They must be willing to meet the job seekers in the middle, understand exactly what they’re looking for in their next company or career, and determine whether or not they’re a good fit for that. Those are the companies that find success, while the companies that are still using dated practices that take weeks, sometimes even months, to make a decision are typically losing out on the best talent.”

On the flip side, technology professionals seeking new opportunities are being more particular about both the role and the companies trying to lure them in. Jason says that while salary or overall compensation is a big part of what candidates look at when evaluating roles, other factors are also increasingly under consideration.

“Tech workers, especially the savvy ones that know who they are, really understand the value they bring to the table. In addition to compensation, which is always a big part of the equation, they are also looking for culture fit,  whether the team is one they could see themselves working well in. They’re also looking for career growth. Whether the company affords them the opportunity to not only be really good at the job they’ve been hired for but potentially move up into other roles or even move laterally and be able to do things they haven’t done before. And so, job seekers in the technology space have a much more critical eye toward the companies they’re looking to work for, the managers they will work with, and the teams they will be part of.

Savvy companies are becoming more candidate-focused in their hiring approach. They realize that in a market where IT professionals have their pick of opportunities, candidates can afford to be more selective. Enterprises understand that in today’s job market,  candidates interview the hiring companies as much as companies interview them. 

Because there are fewer IT professionals than jobs available, companies must also embrace the idea that they are selling themselves to the candidate. 

“Hiring used to be a one-way street. But today, it’s more 50/50. Now, job seekers are also saying, ‘I’m going to screen you, I’m going to evaluate you, I’m going to ask you questions, and I’m going to decide if you’re a fit for me.’While this may have always existed to a certain extent in the technology market, particularly right now, I would say that it is much more prevalent than it’s ever been.”

Jason sees smarter companies as more people-focused in hiring. These include being conscious of the process, balancing the need to include team input while shortening the timelines, and making faster decisions to avoid losing potential candidates.

For example, one trend Jason sees is job candidates who make it through a couple of rounds of interviews only to decline the third. For these professionals, the hiring process reflects the company they sought employment with. They reason that if a company can’t decide after multiple interviews, requiring 4 or 5 hours of their time, the indecisiveness shows the company isn’t for them.

Another important consideration for companies seeking to recruit top IT talent is being clear in their view of IT’s role within their organization today and in the future. Does the company view IT as a department just to keep the lights on or see it as a business cornerstone? Does the hiring company see the IT department as primarily supportive, focused on maintaining and fixing technology infrastructure, ensuring network security, and providing end-user support when issues arise? This point of clarification is critical not only for companies as they assess their IT organizations and the skills they need to grow but also for IT candidates who increasingly care about the role IT plays within hiring organizations— a factor they are increasingly considering. With many job opportunities available, IT professionals can afford to and do take their time evaluating companies whose IT vision and mission, company culture, and work structure best suit them.

Jason says that companies that want to position themselves to attract top talent in a competitive market need to focus on a few critical areas. 

“First and foremost is the company’s vision and mission as a business. Tech professionals, to a greater extent now more than ever, want to understand who the company they will work for, what it is trying to do, and how it differentiates itself in the marketplace. In this way, technology job seekers are trying to determine whether there is a solid vision in place.” 

Jason says the second thing technology professionals really want to understand is how they will impact that business strategy and that vision and whether what they will be doing will play an important or maybe even a critical role in the business strategy. 

“As more companies are learning and embracing the idea that technology is no longer just an operational department that keeps the lights on, the network running, and the applications where they need to be, that it can be an enabler to their business or maybe even a differentiator to their business if they do it well, candidates want to understand what they will do to make an impact and be part of the strategy,”  says Jason.

Preparing For the Long Haul

While the technology job market could eventually normalize, Jason thinks the demand for skilled technology workers will continue to outpace the supply. He also believes tech professionals will continue to have a solid foundation to stand on moving forward, making it urgent that companies be ready to embrace the idea of attracting that talent. 

Jason and his team at Vernovis are working to help their client by focusing on understanding the critical components, including the client’s vision and strategy, their technology strategy, and the story that they can share to position their clients better than other companies that the candidate will be speaking to.

Just as they did during the company’s founding, Jason and the team at Vernovis continue to work to differentiate themselves by constantly refining how they leverage technology to streamline their efficiencies to the right candidates in front of the right companies and make that experience better for both parties.

“How do we make it feel less like a transaction and instead make it feel like we’re brokering a relationship because that, really, at the end of the day, that’s what we’re doing.”

Final Words of Advice on the IT Job Market

Even though the market is largely favorable to IT professionals, Jason also offers some advice to job seekers. While there are a number of positions in the technology sector, competition still exists. Before jumping into a job search, be clear about what you want and your short- and long-term goals. “I think the candidates need to be really clear and grounded in what they want to get out of it,” says Jason. 

Companies navigating the tech job market will probably have a rocky road in the foreseeable future, and Jason also has some advice. 

“Know your vision, know your strategy, know your outlook on tech, understand what you’re looking for in a new hire or a contractor outside of their skill set. The skill set is obviously so important, what their background is, what it is they have that these companies need, but also understand culturally whether they are a fit and whether you are going to be able to partner with them in a way that’s compelling and creates an employment situation that serves both parties. I think that is critically important given the options tech professionals have.”

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