Over the last two weeks at Hunter Campbell, we’ve been fielding a lot of questions about what is happening with recruitment during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Here, we’ve responded to the key issues being raised by hiring managers and candidates, as well as looking at what may happen next.
Many organisations are putting recruitment on hold until there is greater certainty around the period of the lockdown and the economic impact. Their plan is to review this position at the end of the lockdown and determine then if recruitment will still go ahead.
At the other end of the spectrum, for a number of organisations it is still business as usual (although in some cases, remotely). As specialists in Accounting and Finance as well as Supply Chain, Operations and Procurement recruitment; many firms we work with are categorised as Essential Businesses.
We work with primary producers and food production companies that are experiencing unprecedented demand and are urgently looking to fill existing as well as new positions. At the moment, a lot of these organisations are too busy with operations to focus on recruitment so we are providing extra assistance including building talent pools, creating interview guides and setting up interviews on their behalf.
Additionally, a number of firms have reviewed recruitment needs and are still going ahead with hiring business critical positions.
The recruitment process
For the roles being recruited now , the main change is that interviews are being carried out virtually, using the likes of Zoom or Skype.
All of our interviews are video at the moment and then candidates progressing are having their next interview direct with the potential employer over video as well.
While organisations generally prefer to meet candidates face-to-face, video is actually a great alternative and it has been well adopted by many of our clients. You can assess a candidate’s skills and still get a feel for whether they will be a good fit for your culture over video.
If a face-to-face interview is essential, firms can still chose to start the recruitment process now. The preparatory work and first interviews can be carried out by us so you have vetted candidates ready to meet once lockdown restrictions are changed.
Onboarding new employees at this time presents a challenge for firms.
For new employees working remotely, it could be difficult to get equipment to them that they can get up and running on their own or with phone / online assistance. IT security is another issue that needs to be considered.
An onboarding programme of online inductions and meetings can be established to help get a new recruit up to speed while establishing more frequent check-ins is advisable to make sure they get the support they need. If your organisation has online learning modules or guides, these are good to include as part of the induction as well.
For Essential Businesses, new employees are able to go into the workplace with the correct checks, clearances and PPE. In this case, onboarding looks much the same.
Many workers recruited now will need to give a notice period and it’s likely they will start at their new workplace after there has been a change in the COVID-19 alert level. Regardless, employers will need to think through how to run an onboarding programme at the different alert levels.
We expect recruitment to be impacted at times of uncertainty and the COVID-19 pandemic has led to disruption on a global scale quite unlike anything else.
The situation is evolving rapidly and it will be some time before for the full extent of the impact on the job market is known. Regrettably it is anticipated that there will be a sharp increase in unemployment as businesses close or adjust to economic conditions.
Two weeks into the lockdown, many organisations are settling into the change. They have their teams operating remotely and in line with Government requirements. Many Essential Businesses are still operating at pace while other organisations are now in a space of being able to think about what comes next.
In the short term, we expect to see a rise in the demand for interim employees and contractors as many employers will exercise caution around employing permanent staff. Additionally, we may see businesses seek out the services of consultants and mentors as they navigate a path forward in the post-lockdown environment.
Despite uncertainty, a lot of the roles we recruit at Hunter Campbell are considered business critical and will still be needed after the pandemic. It is likely though that the volume of roles recruited will be on a reduced scale.
Our advice to Hiring Managers
With the level of uncertainty and speed of change, a number of hiring managers need more hands on deck but don’t want to commit to a permanent employee. If you’re in this situation, we recommend hiring a temporary employee or contractor.
This is a great way of accessing skilled resource quickly for the period of time that you need it. Contractors hit the ground running and can quickly start making an impact. It’s faster to recruit temporary resource as well, as they are already vetted and ready to go. Plus they often have specialist skills that your business might need.
If you are an organisation with an internal recruitment function, keep in touch with the candidates who have applied for roles. Let them know what is happening with the position they’ve applied for, even if you are not sure, and let them know a timeframe of when they can expect to hear from you again. Candidates understand that roles are on hold however engagement is important to ensuring they are still keen to progress with their application should you begin recruitment again.
If you work with a recruitment agency, stay engaged too. They can give you advice around what is happening in the marketplace that can inform your decision-making around recruitment next steps.
Our advice to candidates
It might be that you’ve applied for a job with an employer directly and it’s been a while since you’ve heard an update. Please be assured that the organisation will be working through these processes as quickly as they can in the current environment.
If you would like advice around any aspect of recruitment, please get in touch.