January 16 marks the 27th anniversary of Connect Tech+Talent. To mark this milestone, the team asked CEO Kannan Kaliyur to share some of the biggest lessons and surprises he encountered along the way, to help business leaders and job seekers learn from his experience.
From how to overcome difficult challenges (like the 2001 economic downturn), to the most important thing Kannan wished he had done starting out, dive into his insights below:
What Has Changed The Most?
Competition in the tech staffing world has increased steadily over the years. We’ve seen the expectations of customers change because employers are tightening their recruitment processes, which helps employers in the long run. This can be seen by the requirement of written tests plus multiple levels of screening to ensure candidates have the proper technical skills and also evaluations to ensure a good cultural fit.
Candidates have also changed their attitudes. Nowadays, they prefer a better work/life balance over a higher salary. It’s also become more difficult to get people back into an office environment and hybrid work is likely here to stay. These shifts have changed the way everyone approaches staffing and how they feel about job satisfaction.
What Surprised You Along The Way?
Looking back at our journey, what surprised me the most was how much success we had when we adopted a core principle of helping people and being totally honest about what we were able to do. Our customers responded positively whenever we provided honest and upfront advice about what we could or couldn’t accomplish for them. It’s been more beneficial in the long run to be honest about our capabilities, even if that meant losing a client.
Also, taking the time to give generous help wherever it was needed has given us rewards beyond what we could have imagined, both for our business and our community relationships.
What Are You Most Proud Of?
First and foremost is our remarkable business journey that spans close to three decades. Being in business that long is no easy feat. Though much of our growth came from word-of-mouth, we can attribute a great deal of our success to the positive feedback from loyal clients and employees. We have several clients that have been with us since we started and most clients stay with us for an average of 12 years. Finally, behind every successful hire lies a journey full of people and processes both big and small. Our employees have been amazing and they are an integral part of making us successful.
What Was The Biggest Challenge You Overcame?
In early 2001 we were looking to grow but everything stopped due to a big economic downturn. There were no new projects coming in as the economy halted. We had to lay off the majority of our employees. Some of us that remained went without pay for a number of months. It was unclear whether or not we would survive.
During this time, we made tons of calls trying to create new business. We were close to failure when a very special person gave us a small project that allowed us to survive. This person took a chance on us during our darkest moment and we were able to persevere as a result. It was a difficult time but it proved that you can still be successful with some tenacity and a little bit of luck.
Any Advice For Job Seekers?
Getting your foot in the door requires making a positive impression that sticks. It’s essential for job seekers to understand the key components of successfully navigating a job search.
The most basic thing is to create multiple resumes that cater to many types of roles and industries. You also need to understand who the gatekeeper is. A recruiter will have different criteria than a technical manager, and knowing this will help you shape your resume.
Furthermore, emphasizing your achievements without going overboard and knowing how to discuss your qualifications according to the job requirements will help hiring managers see you as a proper fit. Following these techniques can greatly improve your chances of becoming more visible to hiring managers and recruiters.
What About Employers Looking to Hire?
Focus on ability and attitude over past accomplishments. If a person has strong fundamentals, they can learn the necessary skills quickly. Often managers spend months trying to find the “perfect” candidate, when they could bring in a good match and train them more quickly. If you find someone with strong potential and one who is a good culture fit then invest in them to make sure they are successful in the role. You will have a loyal and grateful employee who can continue to grow with your company.
If You Could Start Over Again, Would You Change Anything?
If I could go back to the first day we did business and make one change, it would be to set up a network of experienced advisors who could provide guidance on both the business and cultural sides of our venture.
Having a board of mentors early on would have been incredibly beneficial in helping us avoid some common mistakes that we encountered later on. We had excellent products but without understanding how to properly get them to the market, nobody was aware they existed.
With the right guidance from day one, I’m certain we would have seen more impressive results with fewer mistakes along our journey. With this in mind, we are excited that Connect Tech+Talent is able to provide mentorship and guidance to entrepreneurs and business leaders with the hope that this knowledge will benefit them and they will also help the next generation.
The lessons we’ve learned in 27 years of business have been invaluable. It’s been a roller coaster of highs and lows, but ultimately success is about staying true to yourself and your values as an organization. We are so thankful for everyone who has been a part of this journey and we look forward to helping even more businesses grow in the next 27 years!