Recruitment is a high-risk sector. Whenever disaster strikes – from recession to pandemic – the jobs sector is hit. And once that disaster recedes, recruiters emerge, maybe a little bruised, but fighting.
And whilst no-one would claim the pandemic is over, signs of recovery are already appearing. The Recruitment and Employment Federation has launched a job recovery tracker and, after falling off a cliff in March 2020, June and July are showing a tentative growth in the number of jobs being advertised.
One thing we are pretty sure about is that recruitment is going to look a bit different post-COVID. It’s an overused expression, but yes, that pandemic really could be described as unprecedented in our lifetimes. So how do we see things changing?
FLEXIBILITY WILL BE PARAMOUNT
You could be forgiven for thinking the job market had come to a halt under lockdown, with over 9 million workers furloughed as of the end of June and 183,000 redundancies recorded at the time of writing. But there have been flurries of activity. From airline staff working in the Nightingale hospitals to chefs becoming delivery drivers, people have discovered they are capable of turning their hand to other areas.
The result could be that candidates no longer see their careers being in one sector, but are more open to swapping and changing to industries where there is a demand. The savvy job hunter will be looking at how they broaden their experience and reduce reliance on one particular area of expertise. And likewise, recruiters will need to adjust their expectations about sector experience and look more to skills and abilities that are transferable.
Employment models may change. Think of the way Aldi operates. They have a bank of staff, all of whom are trained up to work in all sectors of the store. It makes them highly agile, pulling staff onto tills when needed, instantly redeploying them elsewhere when there are fewer customers. It’s an approach that many start-ups have to adopt through necessity and lack of resource, but one that may stand them in very good stead in times of crisis.
We also believe there will be a surge in short term contract work – whether to cover roles where people are self-isolating or in quarantine or to deal with the peaks in demand that such widescale disruption brings.
A great example of a flexible approach was reported in The Grocer. A poultry supplier has created hundreds of temporary vacancies as demand for their meat has surged. And they’ve successfully attracted workers from the hospitality sector – a very different market but one where there’s a transferable skill, a knowledge of food hygiene. They have reportedly retrained and redeployed employees from other areas of the business too.
COLLABORATION IS THE NAME OF THE GAME
In schemes such as Keep Britain Working, we’ve seen recruitment agencies partner up to build consortiums that connect industries that have suffered high job losses and divert those people into other sectors with companies that are recruiting.
Another such collaboration designed to match candidates to jobs is People + Work Connect, spearheaded by software company Accenture but supported by many other organisations and universities.
In the Capital, bodies including local authorities, recruitment agencies, communications companies and Ofsted have joined up to respond to the urgent need for care workers in London. An update to an existing recruitment portal saw hundreds of applicants using it each week.
Expect to see more of this type of collaborative working in the future, even once the market feels a bit more secure. Working together across employers and sectors is a way to build resilience to future situations that may impact recruitment, and with the infrastructures in place, it makes sense to continue their use after things have normalised.
THE PROCESSES WILL CHANGE
There have been a few logistical challenges to address for those organisations who are recruiting. Analyst firm Gartner found that 86% of organisations are using technology to interview candidates, so addressing the issues of remotely working HR teams and the need to socially distance. Indeed, the crisis has prompted many businesses to implement virtual recruiting and interviewing on a broader scale.
The study reveals that video interviewing could become the norm for recruiters and candidates long after social distancing guidelines are lifted. Key will be the ability to provide candidates with the same level of information and feeling of connection as an in-person interview, or onboarding experience would deliver.
Whilst the technology to support greater online collaboration has been available for a while, it is only during the lockdown that nearly all businesses have truly embraced it. We think this may have been a bit of a wakeup call for many, one that will signal a change and pave the way for a new way of driving efficiencies and cost-effective workflows.
From video interviewing, secure document exchange, online testing and virtual onboarding, it’s likely that many companies will find they can be more efficient in their hiring, saving time and money for everyone involved in the process. We definitely think some or all of these initiatives will be here to stay.
What changes do you think will happen in recruitment? Have you changed your own approach?