Webdev job search in the COVID-19 Economy: A conversation with an expert tech recruiter

Posted by Christine Campbell on Friday, April 17, 2020 at 11:22 AM PDT


It’s only been a month since the Seattle area moved to shelter in place, but the effect on the region has been significant.  With so many businesses experiencing layoffs and hiring freezes making the economy so uncertain, job searches become even trickier. Web Development Certificate students are due to graduate at the end of the summer and the question on everyone's minds is: Will there be work for me and what do I need to do to be hired? 

The Seattle University School of New and Continuing Studies reached out to a local recruiting expert to get an up-to-the-minute view on the web dev labor market in the Seattle area. Alex Karlen, a recruiter at The Creative Group, a Robert Half Company, joined us for a timely virtual Meet-Up on April 14. Between a presentation and lengthy Q&A, Alex covered a lot of ground. Watch our web recording above for the full conversation. Here’s some of what she had to say about the local tech labor market: 

On how Seattle tech is faring in the COVID-19 economy: 

“We are more fortunate here in Seattle than a lot of places in the country. Our unemployment is not as high. And because our “curve is flattening,” we have the potential to open our economy a lot faster than a lot of other areas in the country, which is great. 

However, it's still a very strange time and I've never experienced anything quite like this in the 10 years I’ve been recruiting. This isn't like the recession. It's different and things change very quickly, sometimes overnight, and a lot of companies have had to adapt.” 

On the future for web dev jobs: 

“The good news for web dev students is that tech is very much a need and will continue to be a need for companies because as you can see, we're living online. We are doing business online. You're connecting online. And so that's going to be a big way of continuing to reach the people. “ 

Karlen related that marketing is a bit more up and down, depending on the company or whether the position is a contract. Recruiting for that sector has slowed down considerably. Many small to medium businesses are not hiring and they're the ones who often need someone to create a website for them. Further, smaller jobs creating event collateral are hard to find as events aren't happening right now. 

Advice for junior or new web developers breaking into the field: 

“Be adaptable. If you can do an internship or a volunteer gig, now is a really good time to do that.  All of that experience will help build up your resume, and when the economy does fully open back up again, there will be a big shift in these jobs. Demand for web developers is just going to continue to grow. So be patient, but also be diligent. Those are the two big things that I would recommend right now.” 

Advice on applying for jobs: 

“Because things are so uncertain, you need to be very proactive in your job hunt. Just putting in your resume and filling out an application isn't going to cut it. That isn't going to get you an opportunity. 
I'm a huge proponent of networking so attending things like this Meet Up is excellent.” 

Karlen suggests that any way one can elevate themselves to the top of the list is worth the effort. She provided the example of going to LinkedIn to find out who the HR contact is or hiring manager for a job that you are applying to and following up with them. Remind them what you bring and how you can help them. 

“Eight out of 10 people get jobs through their network. So how are you continuing to foster that network, especially in our current environment? That's really important to think about. Use those connections.” 
Watch the full video above to hear all of the insights covered, including advice on how to apply for jobs, resume and portfolio tips, and interview reminders.