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Looking for Work in the Age of COVID – How the industry is acquiring new talent and how designers ca

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the COVID-19 pandemic is driving widescale changes in the way in which tech startups are operating and hiring. With remote work being required for the foreseeable future, startups are looking to transform the way in which they acquire and onboard new talent in a multitude of ways which will reshape the industry for years to come. As designers it is crucial that we educate ourselves on these changes and adapt to them effectively.

Up until this point, tech companies were often restricted to source talent from local and neighboring communities due to geographic limitations. With remote work becoming the new norm, many companies are now able to expand their search to new employees from all around the country and even the world. For us as designers this means greater levels of competition but also more opportunity. Designers located in tech hubs such as the San Francisco Bay Area, have to not only compete with others in an already oversaturated designer market, but now also with designers from other parts of the country and the world. On the other hand, for those of us located in smaller markets, the door is now opening to opportunities at organizations which were not previously accessible.

In order to adapt to these rapid and unique changes, designers who are active in the job market must adjust accordingly. With competition on the rise, they must do everything in their power to stand out from their counterparts, and that goes beyond an impressive resume and a striking portfolio. Designers must cast a wider net for their job search and consider opportunities in geographically distant locations. They must also actively network online, and use social media platforms as tools to establish an online presence as leading thinkers in the field. Employing such strategies will assist in gaining both you and your work more exposure and expand your professional network, which if used effectively, can serve as a primary source for freelance work and full time opportunities. On the other hand, failing to adapt to these changes and banking on your resume being impressive enough to garner attention, could leave you buried in a pile of equally competent applicants.

While the current pandemic brings about many concerns regarding the future, we cannot deny that it has opened up some opportunities for positive change. Remote work has the potential to democratize access to the tech industry and open it up to those who couldn’t permeate it in the past. Yes, this does mean greater rates of competition, but high levels of competition often breed high levels of innovation which at the end of the day is what the tech industry ultimately seeks. Designers who are able to stay aware of these changes and employ the right strategies in order to adapt, will not only survive these changes but find a way to eventually thrive as well.

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