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From More Job Candidates To Moonlighting, Remote Work Helps Employers And Employees

‘Don’t promise me job security because I know you can’t,’ employment consultant Steve Cadigan says at XChange 2022. ‘Promise you’re going to make me better for an uncertain future. That’s powerful. Loyalty is shifting from loyalty to a company to loyalty to my learning.’

Remote work during the pandemic has made recruiting and retaining employees more challenging while current employees have figured out how to take advantage of remote work to moonlight and even outsource work to other countries.

Two discussions at this year’s XChange 2022 event from CRN parent The Channel Company hit on the long-term changes employers face due to remote work. The event was held in person this month in Grapevine, Texas.

In one of the talks, Steve Cadigan, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based employment consultant with Cadigan Talent Ventures and author who served as LinkedIn’s first chief human resources officer from 2009 to 2012, told a crowd of XChange attendees that companies have overvalued employees who work at a job for more than five years.

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Workers today seek job opportunities where they can learn and train for jobs of the future, he said. Job candidates know that technology changes too quickly for them to enter a job prepared for the tasks of next year and further into the future.

“Don’t promise me job security because I know you can’t,” Cadigan said. “Promise you’re going to make me better for an uncertain future. That‘s powerful. Loyalty is shifting from loyalty to a company to loyalty to my learning.”

Rather than fight shorter employee tenure, employers should recognize the benefits, said Cadigan, who also served in human resources at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) for about four years, Cisco Systems for about six years and Electronic Arts for about a year, according to his profile on LinkedIn.

A rotating pool of employees with new skills will keep the business from growing stagnant and getting left behind by competitors, he said.

“It is a candy store of career opportunity, especially now that the world‘s more comfortable hiring remotely,” he said. “It used to be, we thought about job security and stayed in one place. And we built all our recruiting and all our messaging and all our websites and employer brand – come and stay here. Now guess what? Talent’s telling us, you know what, I want something more than job security. I want career security. Who would you rather work for – someone who only cares about you when you work there? Or someone that cares about you for your whole career?”

He continued: “And that goes against the grain of what we were taught, which was – the longer you have someone, the more confidence you have in them. But the longer you have someone, maybe the shorter opportunity you‘re creating for yourself for bringing new ideas into a market that’s always changing.”

Phil Walker, CEO of Network Solutions Provider — a Google partner based in Manhattan Beach, Calif., and member of CRN’s 2022 Managed Service Provider 500 — told CRN in an interview that Cadigan is right about employers’ mistake in ascribing more value to a candidate with experience as opposed to the capacity to learn.

Managed service providers (MSPs) need to build in on-the-job training to attract young workers, he said. “We focus on talent and people we can train up,” Walker said.

In the second XChange talk on employee recruiting, Richard McKinnon, CEO and founder of Sacramento-based staffing firm DVBE Technology Group, told a room of attendees about two workers who used remote working to their advantage and put his company’s reputation on the line.

One worker who lived on the East Coast was hired for an opportunity in California, McKinnon said. The worker would be unresponsive during the day and miss some client meetings.

Suspecting that the consultant was working multiple jobs, McKinnon ran a background check. The worker’s second employer showed up.

“I know it cost an extra 100 and something dollars, but It relieved us of the problem,” McKinnon said. “Because we were having the client ask us that same question, ‘Well, how come this person has missed a couple meetings?’ … That was a red flag that we had. So far we‘ve only had one that we know. But I do know there are people trying to moonlight jobs.”

McKinnon also told the story of a separate worker who actually outsourced his or her work to someone in another country. Once again, McKinnon was tipped off by the client that something was amiss because the worker wasn’t returning calls. McKinnon suggested looking at where the company’s laptop was located. The laptop was in India. “If I wouldn‘t have said that, they wouldn’t have looked,” he said.

He continued: “You guys know me, I‘m a fun nice guy. I’m not nice when it actually ruins my business or represents me wrong.”

Employees have found ways to take advantage of remote work, but the so-called Great Resignation of people looking for better work opportunities could be an opportunity for employers, he said. He estimated that 40 percent of workers are looking to leave their jobs.

Managed service providers (MSPs) and resellers have the tough position of competing with pay from big tech companies. “Kids with no experience are saying they want $120,000 on their first job right out of college,” McKinnon said. “And the sad part is, larger companies than us are desperate for people, too. They’re paying them that. And of course, then they‘re marking up their prices more to the end client. “

Businesses may have to forgo some margin for top talent, he said.

“It takes money to make money,” McKinnon said. “I would rather have a smaller margin and have someone long term than a bigger margin and have them short term.”

Vennard Wright, president of Clinton, Md.-based technology services company Wave Welcome, said he agrees with McKinnon on sometimes needing to pay out for top talent.

For a recent hire of his who recently graduated college, “I paid him more than I would have otherwise because I wanted to make sure there‘s a fair offer,” Wright said.

While MSPs and value-added resellers (VARs) can lose out on the most talented job candidates to tech vendors paying higher salaries, partner businesses can still appeal to workers with rewarding work, he said.

“One of the benefits that we have as MSPs and VARs is that you can work in so many different areas,” Wright said. “So technologists like to learn new technology. They like to work in different areas. Whereas working with larger companies, you‘re more siloed. So that can be sold as a benefit.”

Wright said that maintaining a close relationship with colleges and universities and other producers of new job candidates can help.

“What I try to do is to make sure that I am going beyond the hard skills – software engineering – and making sure that I‘m also focusing on the soft skills, keeping in mind that at a certain point, I probably will not be able to afford to keep them,” Wright said. “But because I have the pipeline directly back to the universities, I can always bring in new talent.”

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