No one can deny the job market has taken a hit, as the COVID-19 pandemic takes its toll on the economy.
Markets and consumer demand have found themselves with falling business revenues and margins. There has been nationwide disruption, leaving retail shelves empty and production lines out of material
Plans for expansion have been abandoned and in their place continuity plans, with some industries having no option but to freeze pay and hiring or introduce temporary redundancies.
Buoyancy in some industries, growth in others.
While our friends in Hospitality and many retail Markets have had to cull their headcount, other sectors have seen a different scenario unfold. E-commerce, logistics, and e-services companies must maintain current hiring plans and, in some industries, increase their recruitment drives across the board.
Much of the nation has turned to shopping online. In the face of difficult navigation in-store to allow social distancing and having to content with queues outside all the major supermarket chains. Hence there has been a sudden and requirement for instant manpower.
One leading global online retailer is increasing its workforce by 25 percent and wants to absorb the laid-off workers from other sectors.
And although the impact has been pretty much catastrophic to aviation and hospitality, hiring activity for HR, finance, and other specialist fields has remained consistent. Technology talent acquisition continues to show high levels of demand versus low supply of quality talent in the market.
Overseas, in the Middle East and Asia recruitment has continued to prove zealous in high-growth sectors such as technology, life sciences and various banking sectors.
One global recruiter in East Asia comments ‘Many employers would have planned their hiring activities for the first quarter as they know that’s when job seekers are open to new opportunities after bonus season. Given this trend, it’s business as usual for many organisations that still have vacant roles to fill and targets to hit’.
Those who have staying power are planning.
Those progressive organisations, looking forward at the post COVID-19 economy will be balancing immediate crisis management with hiring strategies in order to set them up for the future economic landscape. They are already planning for an escalation in the economy, whenever it comes.
Although there is a section of companies that are investing in keeping talents in their pipelines, understandably there is also plenty of prudence from both job givers and seekers. Many companies are reluctant to hire, given the potential risk. Many candidates are reluctant to move and leave the stability of their current role.
Some employers are using the time during the crises to overhaul their entire hiring and retention strategy. Contrarily, held back by uncertainty, some are delaying, and could continue to hold off for the next quarter of the business year.
Although many jobseekers are open to opportunities there is a caution regarding moving roles, taking an approach that it is often better to deal with someone or something you are familiar with and know, even if they are not ideal, than take a risk with an unknown person or thing. Jobseekers are asking questions around financial stability and focusing on innovation and social responsibility when evaluating opportunities.
Adapting your Hiring process to working from Home and Social Distancing.
It is a given that there will be fluctuations in the job market, reflecting fluctuations in global markets and the economy. Such is life.
However, with the current health crises, the recruitment process itself has had to be overhauled.
Interviews must be conducted remotely, by phone and VC. Although there are many companies that have doing this for years, smaller companies are new to the process and there is a steep learning curve in transferring all processes to remote only, in addition to adapting to the challenges that online interviews present.
So, there is the overhaul of the entire recruitment process, and then there is the extension of the time taken to complete the process as companies are prioritising to manage the complexities brought on by the pandemic. HR staff are consumed with setting up and implementing business continuity plans, meaning recruitment and hiring have been put to the sideline.
But! This means that the hiring and department managers are available allowing the processes that have not been affected to continue with greater speed.
On-boarding is another area of recruitment which has now gone virtual. There is a real risk that reduced engagement and communication between employees and department managers will dramatically impact company performance, so hiring managers need to develop complete and robust remote on-boarding strategies that encompass clear communication with consistent report, supported by animated explainer videos, interactive webinars, and podcasts to improve the process.
Thinking ahead to stay ahead.
There have undoubtedly been wide scale job losses, with the argument from those sectors not catastrophically affected by COVID-19, being that they need to reduce costs to survive the sudden economic crisis. Some industry leaders don’t see it that way.
It has been commented that reducing your output costs when revenue is suddenly plunged south, will leave companies vulnerable and make it very difficult for business continuity. Organisations need to ensure that the decisions made now are based on optimising the company’s future growth.
“Recruitment is essentially a way to build new capabilities and enable strategic changes to business models and culture,” according to one industry expert.
“Take the current downtime and consider how this shapes the talent you need now, and in the longer term. For example, if banks want to develop virtual capabilities, they will need to get that in place now— before the market comes back and everyone is after the same talents.”
In addition, it is a good time for employers to rethink the attributes that lend to the most ideal candidate. High learning agility and the ability to work and communicate effectively across digital channels, should be close to the top of the list.
After the pandemic.
Nobody knows when this will end, or how it will end, what the outcomes will be or how long it will take to recover.
One thing we do know is that the recruitment process for both in-house hires and through agencies will have become very streamlined and flexible, adaptable and cohesive.
This will mean that there will be a greater reach in terms of candidate consideration.
There will be less fear around consideration of those that live overseas but have outstanding credentials. Time will be saved through online processes and interviews allowing for greater efficiencies which we all know allows for greater output, therefore more revenue.
It will be normal for recruiters and hiring managers to think outside the box, being less averse to risk and strategy. Although we are all going through a tough and strange time, we will emerge with greater expertise, resilience and the ability to utilise all resources and strategies to land that star hire.
Jessica Duggan, Sales Specialist Recruitment Consultant