2020… It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
But mostly, it was the worst of times.
Yes, I think it’s safe to say that 2020 was a year like no other. And that’s most certainly an understatement. From the lowest lows (I wondered if I’d need to change careers during the first lockdown) to the highest highs (I became a Partner at Venor and found out I have twins on the way), this year is worth a recap.
With only a few days remaining, this year may still have some surprises in store. But I think it’s an excellent time for reflection. Looking back, here are my top realizations.
6 Things 2020 Taught Me
- Nova Scotia is Where It’s At
More so than any year in my entire career, I was speaking with Maritimers looking to “come home” or, perhaps more notably, professionals from across Canada and beyond who were hoping to hang their hats in Halifax/the Atlantic provinces.
Our local U-Haul and moving operations saw trucks, vans, and trailers pile up in record numbers. People are moving here. And based on the conversations I’m having, they’re staying.
Why? Maybe it’s our modest COVID numbers, economic strength, relative affordability, or quality of life. But perhaps it’s more than that. Many people are reevaluating what they want in life. Sure, nothing’s perfect. But most people would agree things are pretty good in Nova Scotia right now.
- Zoom Fatigue is Real
Does anyone else pine for the days of phone calls? Or is it just me? Face-to-face via video was the best we could do during the pandemic, but I’m toast after four or five video meetings. First-world problems, I know.
- All is Good in Tech
Thankfully, my concerns about having to switch careers were unfounded because other than playing professional sports, I don’t have a plan B. And I’m not good enough to go pro.
The recruitment industry ebbs and flows with market demands. Thankfully, tech proved to be remarkably resilient during this pandemic. Nearly all major tech stocks saw earnings increase year-over-year as of Q3 2020. Locally, we witnessed Verafin’s exit to Nasdaq for US$2.75 billion, which was a massive milestone for the region and should result in a great spinoff for our tech ecosystem. If anything, it seems like more companies are hiring more people both here in Atlantic Canada and beyond. And we have the talent to justify it. CBRE’s recently released Scoring Tech Talent 2020 report had Halifax on its ‘Top 10’ list for Canadian tech markets. Our city scored highly with an A- in Quality of Labour. And at Venor, we saw most of our tech searches with brands whose HQs are outside the region for the first time in our history.
Sure, tech is doing well globally. But companies are now seeing Halifax as a hotbed of talent and investing accordingly. And that’s a good thing for the local tech community and recruiters alike.
- Remote Networking Isn’t Working
While everyone has done their best to replicate in-person networking events, I still feel like something is missing. Whether it’s the awkwardness of standing next to a group of people making small talk (okay, maybe I don’t miss that part) or the lack of social cues when jumping in and introducing yourself, virtual networking events are falling short for me despite everyone’s best efforts.
- Remote Working Is
Personal gripes about Zoom calls and online Networking aside, having so many employees work from home during the pandemic’s height proved the remote work model. So much so that Shopify, Twitter, DropBox and others have made the permanent shift to work-from-home flexibility.
There’s also the often overlooked environmental impact of all these changes. We immediately removed thousands of cars from our strained transportation grid and reduced emissions by a measurable amount. I’m excited by the possibilities here.
While the long-term impact remains to be seen (I could write a whole separate blog post on how the broader remote talent pool makes recruitment an even larger undertaking), it’s clear there has been a fundamental shift in work norms that’s worth noting.
- Diversity & Inclusion Matters
This year brought a greater focus on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It matters to employees, and it matters to companies. And people are demanding change. I’m proud to say Venor has doubled down on our inclusion and equity efforts through charitable donations to community support programs, volunteering initiatives and inclusivity and unconscious bias training.
To sum this all up…
Well, that wasn’t so bad… Things may even look pretty good now that I’ve recapped them all.
2020 was a tough year for many of us. However, despite its challenges, I’m left feeling overwhelmed by all the things I have to be thankful for. We’re seeing amazing things happening in Atlantic Canada, in our tech community, and with COVID-19 vaccines. Good things are developing, and I’m excited to see what happens next.
So, here’s to the lessons of 2020—and wishing you an even better 2021. Hopefully, there are no murder hornets.