Whether it’s with a Chief HR Officer that’s been working in Boston for 30+ years, or with a new recruiter that’s just starting out, I’ve been having the same conversation on an almost daily basis when it comes to looking for new talent: the demand is at a level that we’ve not seen since the dotcom boom. As we mark StartUp Boston Week, I’m considering how we can maximize the potential of the Boston Boom.
In tech companies and scaleups especially, the pandemic has driven innovation, which in turn has seen the need to hire continue to skyrocket. This is only further magnified by post-pandemic HR challenges such as the remote or hybrid work environment and now Delta variant causing return to office plans to be quickly revised. The roles we need are complex – ranging from Data Scientists, Customer Success, Program Managers, to DevOps. They are always hard to fill roles – but now there is increased pressure to make up and recover from pandemic business challenges like never before.
Bostonians have a reputation of working hard and local founders want a team who follow that same philosophy. With more colleges and universities than anywhere else geographically nestled in a great place to live, it is no wonder the demand is at an all-time high.
Our neighbor, NYC, has recently overtaken San Francisco as the most expensive place to live in the US. As Bostonians, we get the bells and whistles of big city living with lower costs. The fact that you can work in Boston and quickly hop in a car and make it to the White Mountains, Newport, Rhode Island or Cape Cod in a few hours is even more relevant today as we have the flexibility to enjoy the accolades of Boston living without the mandatory challenges of the famously tiresome commute.
Smart people with a strong work ethic all in a great city is why dotcoms had such a boom in the late 90s. The passion and excitement that came with a talent pool that was ready to give it their all is still here and COVID hasn’t dampened that.
The Hybrid Working Placebo
One thing that has changed over the pandemic, however, is the perception that, now companies are operating from anywhere without being restricted by the location of an office, it’s possible to widen the talent pool and hire the best of the best from anywhere in the country.
Some hiring challenges can certainly be solved by hiring nationally, but that is not always as easy and seamless as it appears. The US is a big country! Ask yourself, and be honest, is it practical for you to hire a senior role as a rapidly expanding business that will be working a six-hour flight away, seldom able to visit the office and possibly in a timezone that makes it difficult to join Zoom meetings during Boston working hours?
If you’ve got busy growth plans, and your leadership team is trying to balance today’s work/life experience, do you really want to be joining calls after 7pm with a colleague on the west coast to finalize important and time-sensitive business processes and plans? Probably not. Consider how you can engage with your local talent pool – Boston has a reputation for a reason! Establish and maximize your partnerships with local education institutions and organizations just like StartUp Boston to expand your reach and recognition within the Boston talent pool.
The true hybrid aspect of the post-pandemic workforce is being able to balance the potential of a wider talent pool with the potential impracticalities that come with it. As a startup, candidates need to complement your growth plans and the skillsets of your team – consider where they’ll fit in as you continue to expand.