Corona and Recruitment: What Happens Now?
There is much uncertainty,but things can recover.
Like a bolt of lightning, the corona crisis has disrupted our society, and with it, the business community and the labour market. What does this mean for recruitment? No one knows for sure, but we spoke to several experienced recruiters for their opinion.
We knew the economy would be disrupted this year, as we approached the Brexit cliff edge. That particular uncertainty had dragged out so long it was almost comfortable. No one considered such an extreme scenario as global pandemic and shut-down. Even late last quarter when we spoke with recruiters about risks for the year ahead, coronavirus was mentioned in passing, Brexit was the big concern. What seemed so recently unthinkable has now impacted almost every aspect of our lives.
So what does this mean for recruitment?
Does that mean hiring activities at companies come to a
complete standstill? For many affected companies hiring isn’t their primary concern. As IT Recruiter
Rob van Elburg says –
“Organisations are now mainly concerned with: how do we survive this happening. Recruitment is not at the top of the agenda.”
The latest government measures, paying up to 80% of wages, might help many companies to keep staff but they will not immediately lead to recruitment. Van Elburg believes most of the current recruitment activity we do still see is just wrapping up processes that had already set in motion.
Not Everything Has Halted
However, not everything has halted. Dennis Schutte, Recruitment Sourcing Lead at Accenture, says that projects within his company are still ongoing and that certain profiles remain in demand. He’s still recruiting, (albeit from home, with two small kids in the background!.) “But it is a strange situation because at the same time you wonder how long it takes to recruit, and how long the crisis
will last” On the other hand, he also knows that he will desperately need these employees
when the crisis is over. That is why he is very reluctant to slam on the brakes.
This comes from his experience in the only broadly comparable event in recent times – the 2008 crash.
“After the credit crisis it took a lot of effort to find the right people when the market picked up again.”
“It’s a difficult decision. Do you close a vacancy down completely? What if we go back outside in a short
time. When you have stopped recruiting, you are back to square one.”
Schutte says that they now take the position that everyone who has been hired will simply start.
“We offered them a job and, in many cases, they also left a job. It is difficult to say: sorry: we will not do it for a while. We have a responsibility.” Schutte is speaking not only from a strategic, but also a human point of view. “Of course you can’t have too many staff for years.” Schutte realises that with
Accenture he is in a different position than many SME companies. “We are a large international company. We can keep it up for a while.”
Be clear, be open, be honest.
Kay Goedhardt, the administrator of the Recruitment Buddies Facebook group, stresses that it is especially important that communication to the candidates about the procedures is open and honest. “I understand that companies just keep having the same conversations, but it’s important they indicate if they really know whether the position is still open. Don’t make any false promises. But be clear if it is not available now, but might be later.”
“Don’t make any false promises”
In that respect, recruiters can also use this time to work on their talent pipeline. Goedhardt: “You can
currently build candidate lists for the future, but in an open and sensitive way.”
Candidate pipelines & campus recruitment
Recruitment Specialist Floor Nobels also sees that working on a candidate pipeline is not a bad idea for recruiters today. “Especially if you don’t have a lot of work.” Another option she mentions is to focus more on campus recruitment, even if the crisis is about to peak. “Not only are young people cheaper, but they are also readily available. After all, it will be more difficult to tempt people to switch now.” Employees are now undoubtedly opting for more security and will suddenly gain more appreciation for the job where they are. “The grass suddenly seems less green on the other side.”
Reputations will be made and broken
Nevertheless, Schutte also hears noises from companies that are actively recruiting right now because their competitors are doing nothing. “They see it as an opportunity to pick hard to source talents from the market now.” Nobels calls it “poaching” stealing talent from other companies with nice promises. “They are used to that in some sectors, but you shouldn’t think, for example, that hospitals are going to steal healthcare personnel. Make sure that it is ethical in your industry. Especially if you also meet regularly, such as in small niche sectors.” Reputations will be made and broken in how companies react to the current situation.
Schutte also wonders whether companies with this approach appreciate the risks they are taking. “What if this crisis lasts longer, as we enter a total lockdown, What do you do with all those people you offered golden envelope?” How long this crisis will last is the biggest uncertainty. “No one has ever been in such a situation,” says Van Elburg, who has already experienced some crises. “It is difficult to anticipate. Everything you say now may be different tomorrow.” “If it is going to be very long, we will see a restructuring of demand. Different professions, different priorities. It’s still too early to make statements about it now.”
“Everything you say now may be different tomorrow”
Van Elburg thinks that if the pandemic is brought under speedy control, the market has the potential to recover quickly. “The crisis came quickly, so the recovery can also go quickly. In any case, everything moves much faster now than it used to .” Schutte also thinks that if the solution for the virus does not take too long, we can recover quickly. “Unlike the credit crisis, we now know much earlier what the
root cause of the problem is. If we can solve this, then the economy as a whole can pick up the thread faster, although there will, of course, be a lot of damage to the worst affected companies.”
Van Elburg already knows what he will do if we manage to get the virus under control: “I have a friend who had to close his beach business and send thirty men away. He lives in great uncertainty. As soon as there is a vaccine, I immediately will go and celebrate with him and walk on the beach. I hope that everyone will be in such a position and that we will quickly get back into the right rhythm with
a positive atmosphere.”
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