Entering Post-Pandemic Life

As vaccination rates climb toward targets that will allow us to return to normal, whether that means returning to the office or attending live in-person events, some people may be experiencing anxiety. Those feelings could be new or a different experience for many.

Experts say these feelings are normal, and minor changes to your routine can make a significant difference as you step into a post-pandemic life. Blake Lauren Hills, LPC, behavioral health consultant, shares tips on easing into this transitional phase.

Take some time for self-care

Figure out what helps you feel steadier and able to cope better and plan around that. Hills says to block out time for yourself and remind yourself you’re doing the best you can, and that’s good enough.

New routines

Explore your old routines for what worked; maybe that was hitting spin class before heading to the office or meeting for drinks after work with co-workers every Thursday. Then think about how you want your post-COVID life to look. Perhaps it’s the old way, or you may discover that you want to launch new routines, or you’ll want to create a hybrid.

A great way to explore this is by journaling. The idea behind putting pen to paper, Hill explains is to release your emotions and thoughts on paper, preserve them, learn from them, and in turn avoid overloading yourself or your loved ones with your stress. You may discover common themes in your journal that will guide you in your decisions, or you may notice concerns that you need to address.

Use Mindfulness apps

Guided mediation apps like Headspace, Calm, or My Strength can help you cope during this time.

Offering free subscriptions for employees to these types of apps is a great way to show your commitment to your employees’ mental health.

Remember what helped you stay resilient during this last year. If doing puzzles or walking your neighborhood became your stress reliever, keep doing it!

Watch your pace

It’s a good idea to ease your way into new activities. Physically and psychologically, you may be more exhausted than you expect by the types of stimulation you’ve gone without this past year. Maybe start by gathering in small groups instead of attending a large outdoor event.

It’s a process

The return to something that resembles pre-COVID life will likely take far, far longer than how long it took to go from normal to lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic. It is a gradual process, with different milestones and different timelines for various activities with other people. Most of all, be patient with yourself.

The more we can embrace this transition as a path to keep moving forward on, rather than a switch to be flipped, the more ready we’ll be for bumps along the way.


How to Carve Out “Focus Days” And Why You Need Them

Some days start with such promise, but one emergency meeting after another, and your to-do list quickly becomes hijacked, and you find yourself struggling to keep your head above water. It seems impossible to clear some mental space and progress on larger goals when you’re moving from task to task regularly. 


But one minor adjustment in your schedule could make the difference between assuredly accomplishing your strategic objectives and scrambling to keep up with the day-to-day. 


Here’s a potential solution: Meeting-Free Days 


Time management coach Elizabeth Grace Saunders offers these steps to your next focus day:


Step 1: Make the Commitment

Look at your calendar weeks ahead of time and set aside one day as UNTOUCHABLE. Commit to leaving the entire day, yes that’s right, open for focused work. 


Block out time in your calendar to decline any meeting requests. And do the same for your team. This will increase your chances of setting boundaries and following through. If you want to earn bonus points, put your cell phone in airplane mode and enjoy a distraction-free day.


Step 2: Tell Others

Share the news of your meeting-free day with your team and boss. Set clear expectations of the amount of communication others can expect from you on this Focus Day and explain why you’re doing it. Maybe you’ll set some time aside to quickly scan emails for emergencies on a break or at the end of the day so your colleagues know you’re not entirely off the grid. 



Step 3: Plan

Planning what’s on your to-do list before your meeting-free day is just as crucial to blocking out the time in your calendar. Choose work that requires deep focus and high-level critical thinking. Some examples Saunders provides are; writing, strategic thinking, analysis, coding, designing, or a complex project. She recommends picking a single big project or picking two or three discrete deliverables. Then write those goals down on paper or record them in your calendar. 


Step 4: Block out the noise, aka routine emails and tasks

So here’s the hard part. Your instinct will be to answer that Slack message or respond to that email. Stepping out of your comfort zone here will take some time. But once you start realizing the productivity results this focus time yields, it will get easier and the daily tasks will still get done. 


Research has shown those received a big boost in productivity by building in more focus-time into their day. Give it a try and let us know your results! 

Technologist Salaries Continue to Rise

Tech industry salaries were up 3.6 % last year to an average of $97 860 despite the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual Dice 2021 Tech Salary Report features in-depth intel on tech salary and compensation trends across the United States.

The results offer good news for technologists looking to understand their market value better and position themselves for career growth.

Dice administered its 2020 salary survey online among registered Dice job seekers and site visitors. More than 9,000 respondents completed the survey.

Hot Jobs

The occupations and skills that saw the most significant salary increases between 2019 and 2020 helped organizations organize and analyze data, digitize and otherwise evolve their product offerings, and ensure that their organizations remained efficient, profitable, and secure during the pandemic.

Cybersecurity Analysts saw their average salaries increase to more than $103,000, up more than 16%.

The prevalence of remote work likely also impacted Technical Support Engineer wages, which rose to almost $69,000 in 2020, up 8%. As many organizations swiftly reacted to changing conditions on account of the pandemic, the need to develop and implement long-term strategies has positively impacted Business Analyst salaries, which increased 5% to $97,600 in 2020.

Cloud Engineer positions grew more than 6% to $136,500.

As data is becoming increasingly valuable to businesses across nearly every industry, the demand has swelled for those who can successfully analyze data in ways that executives and employees can use to drive growth and business development. Data Scientist salaries rose by almost 13% to $120,000. Similarly, the same trend is seen with Data Engineers. Those responsible for building out and maintaining data infrastructure increased by nearly 5% to $119,00 last year.

Hot Hubs

Salaries in California’s Silicon Valley and Boston rose 2.4%, in line with the national average. But they exploded in several tech hubs:

  • Charlotte, N.C., saw a 13.8% rise in salary to $99, 700
  • Orlando saw a 13.4% rise to $88,600
  • New York City saw an 11.6% rise to $114,275
  • Austin, Texas, saw a 9.7% rise to $104, 344
  • Philidelphia saw a 9.3% rise to $96, 512

Salaries declined in the Pacific Northwest, Portland, Oregon, saw a 4.6% drop in wages to $98,026, while Seattle saw a 2.6% decline to $106,723

Hub Battle 

Texas continues its rise to prominence as a premier tech destination at the state level, with salaries up nearly 6% year over year. This rise is sparking conversations about competition with California – with wages up about 2% – as a primary hub. While both states’ tech centers saw high salaries and steady increases, Texas boasts an influx of prestigious companies – including Oracle and Tesla – building new headquarters.

Are you looking for a career in Tech? Contact us today to discuss our variety of exciting opportunities.


4 Emails That Can Help Advance Your Career

Oh, the dreaded email inbox. Or can it be a career booster? It depends on how you look at it.

If you move beyond the transactional function of email and shift to a more mindful approach, you can use it to help fuel your success. Here are a few simple emails you can send each week that isn’t a time suck but can help you stay top of mind for opportunities, strengthen connections, and act as a motivational tool.

An email to yourself.  

Even after a long week, the last email you send on a Friday should be to yourself. In the subject header, write in capital letters one of your core values or your power word. Now when you open that baby up first thing Monday morning and see the word “INNOVATIVE” or “STRONG” staring back at you, it can set the tone for the week ahead.

Or write down a weekly rundown. List off your wins, what you learned, and the goals you met.

The Thank You email.

This tip may be our favorite. Take the time each week to email one person who deserves your unsolicited praise and appreciation. We all love to feel appreciated. Think about the last time someone went out of their way to show that you are valued.

“I’m so glad we get to work together. Thanks for being my sounding board” is all you need to say to make a lasting impact.

The Mentor email

Is there somebody that you admire and is where you want to be a few years? Send them a message and let them know how their work has impacted you. You never know those emails can lead to great phone calls and mentoring opportunities, which leads to your personal growth.

Don’t be a burden on others; make the requests small and easily doable. But don’t underestimate the potential here; establishing a steady cadence of micro-learning is an easy investment you can make in yourself.

The Stranger Email

Just met someone at a conference or a training session? Send them an email. Expanding your network enables you to have diverse conversations and get new viewpoints. According to Charles Duhigg in his book, The Power of Habit, when it comes to learning about new opportunities, “weak ties” trump “strong ties”. We tend to have similar discussions with the people we see regularly. By striking up a chat with someone you just met may lead to new learning opportunities and open yourself up to different ideas.

Give these emails a try and let us know your results!












The Return to Office – What Will That look Like for Tech Companies?

It’s been about a year since tech companies sent their employees home for remote work as a mysterious flu-like disease made its way through the world.

It marked the beginning of a radically altered how and where people do their jobs. As some tech companies have embraced this change and other employees can’t wait to return to an office setting with physically present co-workers, employers are wrestling with when and how they will return.

Big-Tech companies are taking varying approaches. Amazon is monitoring the situation as the vaccine continues to roll-out and is keeping an eye on case-numbers. The tech-giant told employees they can choose to do remote work until the end of June.

Meanwhile, Facebook is taking a measured strategy and opening offices with a limited capacity (10%) to provide an alternative to workers struggling with remote work. Voluntary work from home is scheduled to continue globally until July 2.

Google’s 132,121 full-time employees will work from home until September. CEO Sundar Pichai said that Google and Alphabet will require employees to return to the office at least three days a week, starting this fall.

In the fall of last year, Microsoft unveiled a “hybrid workplace” model laying out how employees can have a more flexible remote work schedule and even relocate elsewhere in the country.

In addition, Microsoft launched a research initiative, ‘The New Future of Work,’ at the start of the pandemic – a cross-company initiative to coordinate their efforts to better understand the impact of remote work and identify opportunities to support new work practice. Here are some of the key findings.

Remote Meetings

The idea of meeting fatigue rose to prominence during the pandemic. The research supports the assumption that video conferencing technology constraints, combined with an increased cadence in meetings, contribute to fatigue perceptions.

The lack of physical cues, body language, and ability to gauge emotions was significant hurdles to productive disagreement and decision making. At the same time, some found online meetings more inclusive. Another challenge, ‘reading the room’ – knowing what people are attending to, what activities are taking place, and perceiving non-verbal interaction – is difficult in remote sessions, especially as group size increases.


Workers with little prior experience with remote work, a shorter tenure at the company, and fewer pre-pandemic collaborations reported a decrease in productivity. At the same time, the average workday started earlier and ran later.

Physical Environments

The sudden shift to remote work left little to no time to consider the implications of home workspaces. Two key factors deeply impacted a person’s ability to be productive: the size and layout of their living space and their living situation’s social makeup.

Remote work provided flexibility during the pandemic while also blurring the work-life boundary in problematic ways.

There is still a lot we do not yet know about what this last year will have on society. Yet, companies have to decide now about their work practices, workforces, and workspaces that will have implications for years to come. There is work to be done to develop a complete picture of how things have changed and find the best ways to help create meaningful positive outcomes regardless of what ‘return to the office’ approach is adopted.


How Many People Applied to this Job?

You see a job posting and can’t help but start to wonder about the number of applicants, who your competition is, and how your skills stack up against them.  Are there great high-paying jobs out there that don’t get flooded with a mountain of applicants? Have you chosen a highly competitive path?


Well, we’ve got some research for you—the Highest-Paying Job with the Most and Least Competition. The report used data from PayScale and identified roles with an average base salary of $75,000 or higher. To assess which positions tend to be more or less competitive, they used LinkedIn data to calculate the average number of applicants per opening. 


The report found overall, the highest paying job with the least competition is an Assistant City Attorney (average wage: $76,028), with an average of 1.2 people applying for each position. The most competitive highest-paying job in the US is a Senior Vice President of Operations ($170,674), with 159 applicants per opening. 


While the study is slightly flawed, it didn’t consider applicants outside of LinkedIn; it does offer a general sense of which roles might fall into that coveted sweet spot of “high-paying” and “least competitive”. 


Working with an INNOVA recruiter, we can help position you for the right job with the right company. You can search for all of our openings here! 


We pulled out some roles that seem to fall into that sweet spot from the report in healthcare, IT, and human resources. 



  • Acute Care Nurse Practioner (Average salary: $103,010; Average applicants: 4.2)
  • Family Nurse Practioner (Average salary: $96,092; Average applicants: 9.8)
  • Pharmacist (Average salary: $115,311; Average applicants: 5.1)



  • Technical Services Manager (Average salary: $78,820; Average applicants: 4.9)
  • IT Consultant (Average salary: $118,563; Average applicants: 5.9)
  • Lead Software Engineer (Average salary: $118,322; Average applicants: 7.2) 


Human Resources:

  • Compensation & Benefits Manager (Average salary: $88,056; Average applicants: 19)
  • Compensation Director (Average salary: $88,321; Average applicants: 16.7)
  • Human Resources Information Systems Manager (Average salary: $90,342; Average applicants: 18.4)