Recruiting Roadmap: COVID-19 and the Security Job Market

 


The shortage of installers and technicians is not the only pandemic plaguing the security industry anymore. With COVID-19 proving to be one of the single-most impactful events on the job market since The Great Depression, many integrators are wondering how the aftershocks will affect their business. Decreases in revenue, coupled with thousands of people furloughed, and skyrocketing unemployment, has created a grim outlook over the past 6 months.

As an industry, we have been fortunate. With most integrators deemed as “essential businesses” in the commercial and enterprise sectors, many companies have been plugging away adapting to zoom meetings and finding innovative ways to conduct on-site meetings with enterprise clientele while following local social distancing regulations.

Some geographic regions have been luckier than others, with major metropolitan businesses afflicted with higher percentages of COVID-19 taking the brunt of the losses. With most manufacturers implementing stringent travel restrictions, security integrators have remained at the vanguard servicing customer issues on the front lines.

As the backbone of our business driving demand from end-users and keeping orders flowing to manufacturers, integrators have kept our industry afloat. Operations teams across the country – namely technicians and installers – are working overtime to complete jobs that have fallen behind from quarantine as the backlog of work grows. Some are struggling with the work-life balance due to their high demand.

Savvy and efficient integrators used the hiatus in conducting on-site business as an opportunity to expand their team’s knowledge and enroll their technical force in product training courses. Many technicians were very engaged and appreciative of the opportunity to grow and learn, and are equally as optimistic and grateful to have a job right now.

Employment Market Snapshot

As many integrators sought to find a quick solution to bleeding costs and uncertainty regarding revenues, layoff/furlough contingency planning became widespread across the board, and integrators may have noticed the candidate pool quickly become flooded with talented individuals out of work; however, it might surprise you to know that unemployed job seeker are not the only candidates on the market. During these eccentric times, now more than ever, employed candidates are reaching out, responding to job postings, and keeping their ears to the ground – resulting in some resignations that might have blind-sided the original employer. In a world of budget cuts and cost-cutting, it is often impossible to make these employees a viable counteroffer.

While the adjustment to working from home has been relatively smooth, there are still countless candidates feeling stressed and uneasy about achieving their goals. Aside from the typical concerns of business slow-down, the pressure to achieve sales targets, and general concern associated with the virus, many of these passive job seekers have other pains driving their search. It is noteworthy that many candidates are not leaving for monetary gains, but instead are leaving due to feelings of unappreciation or lack of support or resources.

In an effort to conserve money without sacrificing jobs, some integrators had to get creative with budget cuts to save jobs. This resulted in standard pay cuts, bonus trims, and a dip or total loss in certain benefits like car allowance or 401k match which has left many high performers questioning their loyalty and their company’s loyalty.

For the many companies that unfortunately did go through a reduction in workforce, many of the remaining employees are left bewildered wondering “Am I next?” Feelings of job security and stability are at a low no matter the individual’s performance. The uncertainty of the future is keeping these employees up at night. Candidates that were originally furloughed or released are very willing to come back and are seemingly understanding of the situation.

Distance Working Drawbacks

Many workers have reported feeling a cultural shift and are overall more strained in their working relationships with colleagues, partners, and end-users due to the isolation.

In a lot of cases, these candidates are suffering from “the work-from-home blues” and are starting to feel disconnected from their leadership teams, support staff, and colleagues. It is increasingly clear that employee engagement has become a grave struggle for many companies over the past six months. To combat this, employee engagement software platforms and zoom happy hours have become paramount tools for keeping teams feeling connected.

Alternatively, complaints from remote workers experiencing intense micro-management from their leaders are higher than usual as managers adjust to finding the delicate balance between trusting their employees implicitly to do their job and holding them accountable to their tasks. Leadership training has been vital at this time.

On the other hand, many candidates have proven to be warriors persevering through the changes and challenges, and their stick-to-itiveness shows in their performance. Many salespeople are not far from their quotas and are very determined to achieve them. Some companies have even gone as far as adjusting or re-forecasting targets to boost morale and to reflect more attainable goals. Sales leaders are finding new ways to motivate their team with prizes, nice gestures, and thoughtful no-strings-attached free vacation days to avoid employee burnout.

How to Take Advantage

As a trusted hiring and recruiting advisor to leaders at regional and national integration firms, I am often asked what my take is on the future of hiring in our industry. Overall, my outlook for the industry is positive; in fact, the bounce back seems to have already begun – mirroring the V-shaped recovery of the economy. Hiring rates are up and hiring freezes have started to turn off.

If you are a technician or executive looking for a new position, a lot of hiring is occurring through networking right now; in fact, many executive and C-level positions exist in what I like to call “The Hidden Job Market” because they are still not being advertised. Instead, companies are hiring these roles “opportunistically.”

Many organizations are strategically reorganizing their leadership teams to be less top-heavy while streamlining their processes. Hybrid roles are growing in popularity as cost savings to integrators. Unemployment is steadily going back down. Job changes are happening around us and people are getting back to work faster than we thought.

Ryan Joseph is an Executive Recruiter for Recruit Group (https://recruitgrp.com), with a focus on security industry operations, sales, and sales leadership. For help with your security recruiting efforts, contact her at ryan@recruitgrp.com or call (954) 278-8286.

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