Just when you thought you knew what tech employers were looking for in a job candidate, along came 2020. Now, a deadly virus is on the loose, protests—sometimes riots—have broken out and a reality TV star is president of the U.S.

Now here you are, applying for jobs with this going on out your window. Am I the only one who could see this as the setup for a Far Side comic?

So clearly it's safe to trash all our assumptions about how the tech job market works, since we're trashing all assumptions about how everything works in this crazy world.

So, you might be wondering, what are employers looking for in 2020 that they weren't looking for in 2019? I wondered that myself, so I talked to more than a dozen employers in the technology industry and asked them. Take their advice, then check out what resume expert Matt Warzel says about updating your resume.

Without further ado, onto the experts!

Claudia PiersonClaudia Pierson

People Operations Manager

Swenson He | SwensonHe.com

Bio: Claudia Pierson is the People Operations Manager and Recruiter for Swenson He, an LA- and Dallas-based digital product agency.

This pandemic has created urgency in candidates to get new jobs due to layoffs/furloughs and the need could potentially make them accept roles lowering their standards in what they are looking for in terms of long term career achievements. Candidates should stay focused on long term career achievements and also take advantage of the free time to sharpen their skill set/find new skills to add to their resume and stay competitive. Their pitch (if out of work) should be...I was laid off and during this time, I have learned XYZ skill set that can be beneficial for the ABC opening you have available. This shows character, proactiveness and how a candidate reacts in tough times and under pressure. We would be happy to have a candidate with these skills.

For us, as an organization, it is important to identify top talent and hire candidates that are a long term fit for our culture. Recognizing and identifying this type of talent is key as is not being blindsided by a great resume that is looking to get a quick opportunity and leave after they find their long term dream job.

The candidates that successfully secured job offers (and stay long term) at our company were selected due to the following traits:

  • They keep an open mind and are flexible.
  • They were responsive and attentive.
  • They followed in a timely manner on their commitments.
  • Communicate effectively under pressure.
  • They were enjoyable to talk to through the interview process.
  • They were confident in their skill set and abilities to do the job and asked a lot of questions in regards to the role and the environment.
  • They do their research on our company/ team members previous to our conversation.

Candidates are mismatching their expertise to find a new job due to urgent needs and trying to convince hiring managers into interviewing them without taking into consideration all of the skills needed for the job opening. We have been very fortunate enough to have hired nine new staff members since COVID-19 began.

Phil StrazzullaPhil Strazzulla


Select Software Reviews | selectsoftwarereviews.com

Bio: Phil's a software geek. He's been a software engineer, software investor and software entrepreneur.

Recent events have certainly made many in my position reevaluate what they're looking for in new hire candidates and Select Software Reviews is no different.

In 2019 we were looking for team players. We wanted people who could work well with each other and be part of the team. Now our teams have been broken up. People we hire now need to be able to get started on their own without constant direction and guidance.

Also, written communication is now more important than verbal. In 2019 we could be forgiving of context-less messages. After all, a quick jaunt down the hall could clear up any misunderstanding. Now a misunderstanding may lead to hours-long delays as we attempt to track the writer down and seek clarification.

Carla DiazCarla Diaz


Broadband Search | broadbandsearch.net/

Bio: Diaz is the cofounder of Broadband Search, a website that compares the services provided by thousands of broadband providers across the U.S.

Something that COVID-19 has affected for many people is motivation. In 2019 we were looking for team players. We wanted people who could work well with each other and be part of the team. Now our teams have been broken up. People we hire now need to be able to get started on their own without constant direction and guidance. Yes, there might be a little bit of a motivation hit in some ways, but if we hire someone who has lost a majority of their motivation, chances are there will be no improvement for the company whatsoever.

Remember, when you hire someone, you’re looking to bring someone into the company who can add value. In a remote setting, this includes being independent and having the ability to work hard in a variety of environments and situations. Just because someone is looking for a job doesn’t mean they will be motivated when doing the work, so you need to be sure to find someone who shows promise and has that spark that so many people seem to have lost.

Karl GiuseffiKarl Giuseffi

Executive Vice President of Research and Innovation

Talent Plus, Inc | www.talentplus.com

Bio: Karl Giuseffi leads the research team at Talent Plus, Inc. and works to refine and ensure excellence in The Science of Human Potentiality. Karl joined Talent Plus as a research scientist performing quantitative and qualitative processes, ROI Studies, benchmarking and building new interviews and assessments to help client partners select highly talented individuals into various roles. In his current role, he also leads Talent Plus’ development efforts.

I believe the attributes of success today encompass what hiring managers would have described pre-COVID-19, if asked. For instance, we have always needed people who are resilient and innately curious. While it’s important to select the best employees, the abilities required are the same – simply magnified, in a business environment today where it is common to ask employees to do more with less.

An organization gets better or worse with each hire. Leaders need to remain deliberate and intentional to select the “right” person and continue that discipline, while also providing the right organizational structure that allows them to thrive—this means we also make changes when needed. Equally important – whether pre- or post-COVID --  it’s essential to create a culture where change is embraced, accepted and celebrated, and this helps to overcome the fear that comes with change. Recognizing people has substantially changed in several organizations as media to do it have changed.

There’s so much change afoot in the workplace and the world today and when change occurs, individuals who are resilient, agile, resourceful and optimistic can tackle change and challenges, adapting well to what’s happening around them and to them as the workplace continues to change.

Norhanie PangulimaNorhanie Pangulima

Marketing Manager

Traffic Truffle | www.traffictruffle.com

Bio: As a digital marketing executive, Pangulima is involved in the hiring of new recruits for her team. She believes that, with how things have turned with the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic and certain global issues, there are some factors in tech industry hiring that needed to be changed.

In 2019, the qualities that we look for our job candidates were mostly technical and how they will be able to create excellent outputs. After all the crises 2020 has caused, we are now looking for candidates who can find ways to reinvent work that might be caused by disruptions and changes.

Since we are already used to working remotely, COVID-19 did not really change what we are looking for. As long as they can immediately adapt to the situation, they will be able to help the entire organization to cope.

Aside from adaptability, we are now asking the ability to operate in a fully digital environment from our job candidates. Though we have been working remotely even before this pandemic, there were times when we can still meet-up to discuss big issues unlike now that we are fully operational virtually.

Heinrich LongHeinrich Long

Privacy Expert

Restore Privacy | restoreprivacy.com

Bio: Heinrich was born in a small town in the Midwest (USA) before setting sail for offshore destinations. Although he long chafed at the global loss of digital privacy, after Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013, Heinrich realized it was long past time to join the fight. Heinrich enjoys traveling the world, while also keeping his location secret and digital tracks covered.

It’s not that we didn’t care about it before, but adaptability has definitely shot to the top of our list now, because things are changing so much. You want to know that the person you’re bringing in can think on their feet and adapt as they go. Otherwise, they can be a liability in a very delicate time.

But also, we’re more concerned with experience. Before, we might have brought in a young, enthusiastic candidate that we would have been able to train, but now, we prefer someone who already has a few years under their belt. Because things are uncertain, we need a professional and we can’t afford to invest in someone who may not “get it”. We must invest in a certainty, or else it can take us down.

Although I don’t think it has affected the recruiting process that much so far. People are still transitioning. But I think later in 2020 and probably 2021, we’re going to see higher level candidates looking for jobs they’re overqualified for. Technically, that’s good for us as an employer, but I can’t say I’m happy to see people with education and experience asking for an entry level job.

Reuben YonatanReuben Yonatan

Founder and CEO

GetVoIP | getvoip.com

Bio: Yonatan is an experienced entrepreneur in the information technology and B2B service industry. He's skilled in Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Cloud Solutions, Marketing, Sales, Entrepreneurship, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Strategic Partnerships.

The top quality I am looking for that was not a priority in 2019 is analytical thinking, coupled with a measure of independence. A person with these qualities can independently analyze a situation and make the right call when the manager or supervisor is not available.

COVID-19 has changed the face of the workforce with countless people working from home. Statistics continue to indicate that most workers would prefer to continue working remotely in the future. As we move towards a more remote workplace, employers will need employees who can operate independently without quick access to a manager or supervisor.

We currently have four open positions (https://getvoip.com/careers/) and we are actively in the process of trying to fill them. Candidates who show both independence and analytical thinking are at the top of the list.

Will Ellis Will Ellis


Privacy Australia | privayaustrailia.net

Bio: Ellis has spent his life figuring out how to maintain my privacy and security. Growing up, even while playing video games and messing around on the internet, he was worried people would be able to access his IP address. He unintentionally became an expert on VPNs, proxies and firewalls in an effort to secure his information. He is now acknowledged as a privacy and security expert throughout a handful of industries.

One of the great things about being in the industry of cyber security is that many potential employees have the knowledge and capabilities to work from home effectively. Since the pandemic, one of the main things that we’ve been looking for in our candidates is their ability to respond quickly to cyber threats in a remote position.

At the moment, there has been a rise in cyber crime, as attackers understand that many people are sitting at home and are therefore more vulnerable—because they have an unsecured network, they don’t have restrictions on their computers, etc. In our search for new members of the security team, we aim to find someone who will be available more frequently, easily contactable and quick to respond to these types of threats. These attributes are extremely important in the current environment, so we are taking very careful consideration when choosing our next cyber security employee.

Maksym BabychMaksym Babych, MBA, Ph.D. candidate


SpdLoad | spdload.com

Bio: Babych work as a CEO in a product development company for startups. And often he acts as an interviewer on technical issues for candidates.

In addition to good soft skills, now the candidate must be concise, clear and accurately able to write. Because working on a remote site has shown that this ability is as important as the ability to communicate live for effective and streamlined work. The pandemic affected this. Listen, we switched to "udalenka" (working remotely) in 2 days and were able to increase revenue by 30 percent thanks to anti-crisis measures. Best practices for companies that initially worked without a single office helped in this. And just the ability to write - eliminates inaccuracies in coordination, saves time and eliminates unnecessary meetings. In terms of quality of skills and work, everything else (we look for) is at the same level.

Dennis Vu

CEO & Co-founder

Ringblaze | ringblaze.com

Bio: Financial analyst, researcher, data analyst, as the co-founder and CEO of Ringblaze, Vu has done it all.

One thing that is different today is that we search for candidates who are quick on their feet. The “new normal” is unfortunately here to stay and unexpected things will happen. When we make new hires, we want someone who won’t be afraid by the inevitable changes that will happen and someone who isn’t afraid to change their routine.

If you want to succeed, you need to be willing to adapt, and if you run a startup like we do, pivoting is part of the game. Basically, we want someone who’s strong and flexible at the same time, especially for leadership roles. So far, finding that has not been very easy, unless we’re willing to go after passive candidates who already work elsewhere. These are tough times and they require strong people.

Neal Taparia

Founder & CEO

Solitaired | solitaired.com

Bio: Founded Imagine Easy Solutions, a software business, and grew without investment to ~$20M. Sold the business to Chegg (NYSE: CHGG) in 2016, and successfully further scaled it, playing a meaningful role in Chegg’s growth from $500M in market cap to $5B in three years.

This year, I'm putting a major emphasis on proactive communication, and work-from-home experience. We are going to be fully remote going forward, and I've noticed some people thrive working from home and others don't. Key to this is being comfortable in your home environment, and also being a great communicator.

I try to understand if someone has a work-from-home routine, and how they have evolved that over time. This tells me that they are constantly looking for productivity gains to be an effective employee and how self-aware they are. If I hire them, I'll know they won't have any issues, or at least will have the resiliency to solve them.

Communication is also another critical element I look for, and is a prerequisite for our remote team. I want to understand what communication challenges they've had in the past, and how they've addressed them. I ask them, if they were to manage a team, what communication processes would they put in place. This gives me a lot of insight on how thoughtful they will be regarding communication.

David MackDavid Mack


SketchDeck | sketchdeck.com

Bio: Mack's the founder of SketchDeck, an AI-based startup that provides design for B2B companies big and small, like Google, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, ON24, Rémy Cointreau and others.

Since we've been running remote for 7 years, COVID-19 impact was felt, but didn't change our policies. Nevertheless, as many companies are transitioning to remote only now, our experience might be valuable to them.

We're always looking for new talents: designers, writers, freelancers, so we hired a few people this year. There is more offer, and competition is fierce. But our greatest takeaway is this:

Hire based on values. Drawing from a global talent pool means you can fast-track candidates with the best skill set to do the job, whatever that means for your company.

Remember, skills alone aren’t enough for a successful hiring strategy. First, you need to find the right person for the job, and next, you need to make sure a candidate can thrive on your team. 

Manage Thyself: In the most general terms possible, people need to be able to manage themselves to succeed with less structure. I’m often looking for people who can be handed something and run with it. A core skill set for self-management is completely necessary for a remote working environment.

Chen GuterChen Guter

Vice President, Marketing

Lusha.co | Lusha.co

Bio: Guter is a global marketer who provides proven methodologies to establish products as successful brands that disrupt industries and change consumer habits.

As a hiring manager before and during COVID-19, there are three characteristics that became more important than ever:

Resilience - The one thing COVID-19 taught us, is that surviving during change is not sufficient anymore. People that thrive through change and have a strong core to manage the volatile and uncertain times we live in are key for any team these days.

Accountability and Trust - Working remotely had made trust an even more critical virtue than ever. Accountable employees that lead their schedules and own their work are priceless in the new environment.

Self Driven - Proactivity is the new currency when working away from your manager and team. People who focus on impact, suggest ideas and always think one step ahead are true resources for companies these days. When things are flexible, projects change, budgets get shifted, priorities are shuffled—Building a team that adapts quickly is key.

Dmytro OkunyevDmytro Okunyev

Founder & CEO

Chanty | chanty.com

Bio: Dmytro Okunyev is the Founder at Chanty –a simple AI-powered team chat. This powerful and free Slack alternative is aimed to increase team productivity and improve communication at work.

The one thing that changed for us is that we now look for candidates who are adaptable. The coronavirus pandemic showed us that things can change drastically within a matter of weeks and we went from working from our office to working from home for two months.

We want our new candidates to be ready to work at different hours and from different locations, if need be. The situation is such that we don’t know what will happen next and we want our candidates to be fully aware that this is not a job where you will do the same thing every day. The great news is that we opened up our positions to remote candidates and as a result, we’ve had more good applicants than ever before, even from other countries in our time zone. With the way things are going, I think that we may only hire remote in the future.

Pete SosnowskiPete Sosnowski

Co-founder & VP of Human Resources

Zety | zety.com

Bio: Sosnowski has seven years of recruiting experience in top companies. Prior experience includes managing diversified teams and HR projects. Scaled InterviewMe and Zety from 3 to 50+ people in >4 years.

The pandemic situation has slightly changed our approach to recruiting. As we changed all our on-site interviews to online interviews, candidates are expected to have greater consistency in online interviews. Let’s just say that not all candidates care enough to have a presentable background or good connection more than once.

But more to the matter: While before I was indifferent or even a bit skeptical of people with remote working or freelancing experience, I now see that as a praiseworthy quality.

There’s more candidates than ever for us, and that also means more qualified people. I’m surprised at the number of people with great experience who were fired. I’ve also seen more and more candidates with experience irrelevant to the job they’re applying for. Sadly, I think that says something about the bleak financial situation of many people.

Rodrigo Paravella MontagnerRodrigo Paravella Montagner


OM2TECH | om2consulting.net

Bio: Montagner is CEO and Founder of OM2TECH, an international startup focused on technology support and services. He has 20 years of enterprise career experience, within over 100 IT projects in 12 countries, implemented in a dozen different businesses.

The personal characteristics are the most important of all qualities. I have learned that, during these times, the ones with better relationship skills—spoken, written and non-verbal—are the ones who actually perform their duties more efficiently and, surprisingly, make the customers more happy. Before COVID-19, personal abilities were not as key as it is now.

I've had to hire a few people, and despite the technical skills, we definitely had to onboard professionals that had both the technical acumen and the communication skills—good language skills, behavioral, service delivery oriented—to enhance the delivery quality, as well as make customers properly understand, in a practical and clear way, that they are in good hands. In these times of uncertainty, we have to be a voice of technical and communicative tranquility to our customers. These actions had paid back so far in a very nice way.

Christopher PrasadChristopher Prasad

Marketing Manager

JookSMS | jooksms.com

Bio: Prasad is the marketing manager for JookSMS, which has been providing SMS marketing to businesses for over 5 years.

As much as the world has changed over the last 6 months, I don't think there is much of a change in recruiting process, especially within marketing. The only change that I can think of is how candidates can show empathy due to what has happened around the world.

In a business such as ours, we need to understand that not everyone has been able to retain their business with ease, therefore we need to understand that some people may be cautious about how they spend their marketing budgets following the pandemic. We are definitely looking at how candidates look at the world as a whole and how they believe businesses have changed over the last few months, this is done by a questionnaire during the hiring process. We want to ensure that we don't have to spend days teaching how to understand and market the businesses we want to work with.

Alisha M. Wilkins, Ph.D.Alisha M. Wilkins, Ph.D.

Owner/Founder Hera Hub Temecula

Hera Hub Temecula | herahub.com/temecula

Bio: Dr. Wilkins is the owner of Hera Hub Temecula, a co-working space and business accelerator where entrepreneurial women can create and collaborate in a professional, productive, spa-like environment.

Actually, I've written my entire Ph.D. dissertation on a particular skill set needed by remote workers. It's called "social presence" it was a term coined by Short, Williams, in Christie (1976) and has continued evolve to mean the degree to which a person is perceived as "real" and psychologically connected to their interaction partner when communicating using technology (i.e., videoconferencing, IM, email, etc...).

My research confirmed a relationship between managers high in social presence and their employees job satisfaction. In other words, managers who were considered more psychologically connected had employees who reported higher job satisfaction. Higher job satisfaction results in less absenteeism, higher retention rates, and an over sense of well being at work. This is crucial now particularly as we navigate the world of work during and post-COVID.

Note: This article was first published in the Valley News, a newspaper based in Fallbrook, CA.