Nearshore Americas
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Hiring in the Time of COVID-19 Remains Robust, Especially in Costa Rica

As the coronavirus pandemic triggers a worldwide recession, most of the attention has focused on companies being forced to lay off employees. However, amid the economic carnage, there are rays of hope and optimism across the Nearshore industry as companies are confidently making new hires, while others see an opportunity to invite especially talented recently laid-off professionals to join their teams.

Adolfo Cruz, CEO, and Founder at Proximity Costa Rica.

Adolfo Cruz, CEO and Founder at Proximity Costa Rica, says that his company has ten job openings at the moment. Proximity is a software development outsourcing company, with sites in Costa Rica and Peru, and these openings respond to an increased need from clients whose businesses are experiencing higher work volumes due to the COVID-19 crisis.

“We’ve had a mixed experience. Some of our clients have been affected by the crisis, and consequentially have affected us with team reductions or temporary price negotiations. We haven’t lost any clients due to the pandemic,” Cruz told Nearshore Americas.

“On the other hand, we have clients that operate in the so-called winning sectors, which have actually seen their volumes increasing. Those are the ones that are making us hurry to hire new talent,” he added.

Cruz says that by policy, Proximity has chosen not to fire anyone at this moment. Some of their developers are the bench, due to reduced projects, but their profile doesn’t match what the company requires for other clients. At this moment, the company feels that the increase from others is compensating for the reduction of workload and income from some clients. However, they’re not hiring as much as they would if the crisis was not here.

“Our goal at the beginning of the year was to hire around 60 people in 2020. That projection has been reduced to 20% because of the crisis,” Cruz said.

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Adrián Gómez, Roche Sequencing Solutions, Argentina

Adrián Gómez, Director of Analytics, Software, and Bioinformatics and Roche Sequencing Solutions in Argentina, agrees with Cruz’s perspective. In this case, Gómez emphasizes that Roche as a whole has been more affected by the crisis than his department, because of its niche focus on health sciences.

“The impact for us has been not only low; it has been even positive. We do research and development on computational genomics. This is unique in Latin America, and we are working in an area related to the issue affecting the world right now,” Gómez told Nearshore Americas.

Gómez said that the Roche Sequencing Solutions team in Argentina has 12 people, and they want to grow it to 16. They are looking for senior developers, quality engineers, and DevOps, and ProdOps engineers.

The Costa Rican IT Nearshoring company, Novacomp, has also announced plans to hire more than 100 IT professionals. The company stated that despite global health and economic crisis experienced by COVID-19, they continue to grow at a regional level and is expanding to the North American market.

Claudia Selva, Marketing & Communications Director at Novacomp

“The health crisis has presented an opportunity in and of itself, given that many industries and companies must carry out restructuring processes, including the development of safer, more modern and agile systems to continue providing a better user experience for their clients. This is where Novavomp can support these Digital Transformation decisions,” said Claudia Selva, Marketing & Communications Director at Novacomp, in a press release.

The company is hiring software developers and architects in both Front-End and Back-end Web Development, in programming languages such as .Net, Java, Oracle, Python, Mobile Development (Android and iOS), Development of hybrid applications (Cordova, Ionic, Xamarin), PHP, Javascript (Angular, React), as well as in IBM Legacy Systems, such as AS/400, RPG, and COBOL.

From Big to Small, Talent Drives the Hiring Bus

Beyond hiring openings in small operations that service the “winning sectors” of this crisis, some big corporations have also announced expansion plans in the Nearshore.

This past week, Amazon publicized the creation of 2,000 jobs in their Costa Rica site. The positions will service Amazon’s clients in Europe, North America, and South America, and the hiring profiles include service agents, analysts, accounting and finances, software developers, content strategists, and fraud prevention professionals.

“Since we opened our first contact center [in Costa Rica] in 2008, we have hired more than 9,000 people,” said Alejandro Filloy, Amazon’s Customer Service Director for Latin America, in an official statement.

“Our team is getting bigger, and it is distinguished by the exceptional talent we have found in Costa Rica,” he added, in a press release that omits how these hires fit in the business context of the pandemic-induced recession.

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Paula Leñero, Human Capital Consultant.

Paula Leñero, a Human Capital Consultant with vast experience, including leading Deloitte’s Human Capital consultancy in Costa Rica for almost 15 years, says that the pandemic has drastically changed the way her clients conduct recruitment processes.

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Leñero says that, although videocall interviews already happened before COVID-19, the crisis has forced companies to move faster into that direction and develop strategies that mitigate the negative impact of not having face-to-face contact in some phases of recruiting.

For the talent specialist, this unprecedented moment can also mean an opportunity for companies that are hiring, since there is more human capital availability due to layoffs across the job market. For instance, layoffs in the acutely affected the tourism sector in Latin America -which is usually bilingual- can provide new talent for contact centers.

“Initially, new hires were frozen, because companies directed their attention on managing the people they already had in this new context. Little by little, companies are starting to move from that phase to reconsider their talent needs,” Leñero concluded.

Diego Pérez-Damasco

Diego Pérez-Damasco is a writer and managing editor at Nearshore Americas. He has more than six years of experience covering politics and business in Latin America. He has been published in media outlets throughout the Americas and holds an MA in International Journalism from the University of Sussex, United Kingdom. Diego is based in Costa Rica.

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