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Waterloo Region firms looking to fill hundreds of roles in ‘highly competitive’ tech sector

WATERLOO REGION — Take a look at the websites for local tech firms, large and small, and you’ll find a common sign these days: We’re hiring.

Faced with a shortage of skilled labour pre-pandemic, the tech sector found its services in even greater demand as COVID-19 lit a fire under an already-accelerating digital adoption and innovation trend.

Companies are growing and wanting to hire, but the competition for talent is fierce.

Applicants are looking beyond salary considerations to things like remote work and flexibility, well-being and work-life balance. The very nature of remote work means companies half a world away can court prospective workers no longer bound by the confines of a commute.

“Technical hiring has become a highly competitive market. It’s honestly unlike anything I’ve seen throughout my entire career,” said Ana Moreno, senior manager, recruiting, for cybersecurity firm Arctic Wolf.

“I think the shift to remote work has really opened the door to a lot of global companies to come in and scope out the tech talent in K-W specifically, which is just kind of fuelling that talent shortage that we were already facing.”

With a significant security services and research and development presence at its Waterloo office, the Minnesota-based firm is looking to fill more than 50 open roles in R&D alone.

Arctic Wolf is one of about 35 companies participating in Thursday’s Tech Jam From Home, presented by Communitech. There are more than 1,500 technical and non-technical (sales and marketing, for example) positions on offer at the virtual job fair; other participating firms include OpenText, Vidyard, McAfee and Wrapbook.

Most of the companies are based in Ontario; roles may be remote, in-person or hybrid.

“The biggest challenge we’re hearing from the founders in our network at Communitech is the fact that the pandemic really accelerated the onset of the future of work,” said communications manager Candace Beres.

Remote work, at home and beyond our borders, opened up the number of opportunities Canada’s tech talent has. “That has made an already increasingly difficult hiring landscape that much more difficult,” Beres said.

“More often than not, I’m finding the recruitment team here has to build business cases to bring on people at a higher price point,” Moreno said. But it’s also about more than monetary incentives.

“Big selling points for candidates are around the themes of professional development, career progression, work-life balance. People are looking for more than just money.”

Job seekers can register for Thursday’s Tech Jam From Home via Communitech’s website. There’s a session for technical roles from noon to 3 p.m., one for marketing, design and sales roles from 3 to 4:30 p.m., and a final session for support roles from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

“The pandemic has really given people a great opportunity to reflect on their current positions and their careers in general, and think through what they want for their next step,” Beres said.

Communitech is also hosting a two-part workshop on compensation Nov. 4 and 11 from 1:30 to 3 p.m., with registration limited to 15 participating companies.

“You need to be a great company to work for,” Moreno said. “You need to really care about your people and have that reputation, because candidates do know their skills are really well sought after and they have choices.”

Source: The Record
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