Nearshore Americas

The Competition Grows: How to Get Ahead in Talent Acquisition

Many businesses’ major problem right now is hiring. That might sound odd given that the world is still in the midst of a pandemic and global economic upheaval, but recruitment competition is rising everywhere. And even if hiring isn’t your biggest challenge, it’s probably your customers’ biggest challenge, and so it will end up affecting your business as well.

Arin Sime, CEO and Founder of AgilityFeat

I recently attended a virtual roundtable of dozens of CEOs in the United States, and hiring was the major talking point. It’s issue that cuts across multiple sectors, from IT services to manufacturing. 

For software staffing companies like AgilityFeat, hiring is quality talent is a major challenge. After experiencing heavy revenue losses in the first half of 2020, AgilityFeat has rebounded and we recently went on a hiring spree. But we are being forced to slow our hiring simply because locating talent with the specific expertise and experience levels that some of our clients require is so hard. Quite literally, hiring is the major obstacle that is constraining our growth at the moment.

But what’s driving this trend, and how will it affect Nearshore companies?

Changing Perspectives Puts Nearshore in Spotlight

For over ten years, AgilityFeat has been remote-first and this model has allowed us to source the best talent for our technical niche around North and South America. In the company’s early days, not all of our clients were comfortable with the idea that our team was spread out across many countries. Some preferred the notion that our team would be in one country together, so that even if we were remote to them, we were at least co-located together for ease of local management.

Over time, our clients have come to recognize that this fully remote configuration offers many benefits over satellite offices. Most importantly, it’s given us larger geographies in which to search for the experience we need.

The increased adoption of remote work is leveling the playing field across nearshoring at each step of the value chain

With the pandemic, many more companies have come to this same realization: offices are nice but not always necessary. More companies in the US are allowing for distributed teams. While some employees will welcome a return to the office, others have moved out of the city, away from the office and will prefer to stay remote. In order to retain talent, these companies are learning to adapt to hybrid workforces.

As companies become more comfortable with hybrid workforces, they will also become more comfortable with nearshoring and remote work anywhere in their time zones. This is a welcome trend for those of us who have been working in the Nearshore business for years, but it also creates challenges for us.

Continued growth in nearshoring will mean more competition for the most talented labor, and we are certainly already seeing that in our software development and IT services work. Labor rates have gone up in some areas, and this may continue as remote work allows the most experienced talent to rise to the top of tight labor markets. Finding junior talent is not an issue, but investing in junior talent is not easy when clients require roles to be filled with more experienced personnel.

Therefore, even an improving market can bring its own set of challenges, and we are adapting our hiring practices to more consistently search for talent regardless of our current client pipeline. Keeping a pool of talent ready to hire has definitely saved us in recent sales conversations, and likewise we have lost clients who we didn’t find the right talent for. 

Keeping the Talent Pipeline Full

How can you keep your talent pipeline full? 

The key is to keep the talent pipeline deeper than your sales pipeline, so that you always have some potential staff ready to contract out to new clients.  With more general development skills, we continue to get most applicants through traditional job posting boards as well as local job sites. 

With the pandemic, many more companies have come to this same realization: offices are nice but not always necessary

For more niche staff, we have found success recently with doing more proactive recruiting via LinkedIn for developers with the specific skill sets we require. In these cases, we have found our “remote first” approach to be very competitive. Many of the developers we have interviewed are still working in more traditional office environments, and even if they are allowed to work remotely currently, they want to avoid being required to go back to an office in the future. 

Combining that remote flexibility with interesting work and locally competitive pay has allowed us to recruit talent away from other jobs that on the surface may appear more stable and traditional. This sort of adaptability in work models is what the upcoming workforce requires.

Head-to-Head Hiring

One interesting side effect of companies becoming more comfortable with remote work is that they are also becoming more selective and hands-on with our hiring process. In the past, many clients accepted our recommendations for developers without a very cumbersome approval process. But as these companies see the benefits of remote work, and the possibility it gives them to hire more niche talent, they have also wanted to become more involved in our hiring and screening process to ensure we have the specific talent they desire.  

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In essence, they are putting us up head-to-head with their own remote recruiting processes, and that means that Nearshore companies must step up our abilities in talent acquisition, so that we can continue to make the case that our local connections and understanding of the Latin American market make us able to better find the talent then they can do in-house. The increased adoption of remote work is leveling the playing field across nearshoring at each step of the value chain.

Some employees will welcome a return to the office, others have moved out of the city, away from the office and will prefer to stay remote

All this means that hiring is our biggest challenge right now, and it will be yours too. Prepare by improving the pitch you deliver talent, deepen your candidate pool so you can be more selective in the talent you hire and keep the job ads running all the time in anticipation of that next client.  

For nearshore companies, talent acquisition is now more than ever on par with sales as equally crucial sides of your business model. Invest now in talent acquisition just as you invest in marketing and sales, and you’ll be prepared not only for the global economic recovery that is on its way, but also have a strong foundation for the new economy that has already begun.

Arin Sime

Arin Sime is the CEO and Founder of AgilityFeat, a boutique software development agency founded in 2010. The company is based in the US and Panama, but works with remote talent throughout Latin America. Arin is also founder of WebRTC.ventures, a development agency specializing in building live video applications for web and mobile.

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