Riding the Recruitment Rollercoaster

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The recruitment market has changed significantly over the past 12 months. As the world navigated its way through panic, lockdown, tragedy and more lockdown, it has been one hell of a ride.

I’ve witnessed an unprecedented number of redundancies over the last 12 months. I’ve seen job offers withdrawn just days before candidates were due to start, and the dire financial issues that brings. I’ve seen recruitment freezes, thaws, and more freezes. I’ve seen super-ambitious candidates hunkering down and waiting for everything to blow over, putting their next ‘big move’ on hold. I’ve seen salaries stagnate and contract day rates decrease, in no small part because of the increase in ‘immediately available’ candidates eager to secure work.

We are reminded daily by the ‘powers that be’ that these are just temporary changes and things will soon be back to ‘normal’. So, what are the lasting changes; what’s the evolution?

Firstly, there’s the obvious, big change: working from home. For as long as I have been recruiting, working from home has been sold as a job benefit, and always brought a significant uplift in candidate attraction. Now, it feels odd if a role is fully office-based. Bar one or two outliers, organisations have adapted to a remote working model that will continue (even partially) in the post-pandemic world.

What this means is that companies can now recruit based on talent alone, rather than having to trade this with proximity to a specific location. On the one hand, this has increased job prospects for candidates across the UK and has uncovered opportunities that were otherwise unavailable. I’ve seen companies that had previously struggled with recruitment now flourishing with great talent due to this change in mindset. On the other hand, I’ve also seen job descriptions and briefs filled with more ‘must haves’ than ever – because if they’re not limited by location, surely the unicorn candidate will come out of hiding, right?

Interviewing has changed, too. With the likes of Zoom and Teams becoming the de facto method of interacting with colleagues, friends and family, it was only natural that they became an integral part of the interview process. It’s become quicker and easier to arrange and conduct interviews and I believe this format will remain, at least for first stage interviews. This will hopefully result in less time wasted for candidates having to travel to interviews and an increased focus when meeting face-to-face.

Given the unrelenting impact of the pandemic, there’s global acknowledgement that everyone has their own story to tell about how they’ve been affected by Covid-19. What this means for the job market is there is a heightened sensitivity and willingness to listen about gaps in employment and redundancies. It feels there is a greater balance between hiring the person and hiring the skills. Everyone seems just that little bit more understanding.

“I have also witnessed a noticeable increase in people investing in their own development, rather than waiting for company sponsorship.”

This has covered both those in employment (who couldn’t wait for the corporate training budget to recover) and those without work looking to keep their skills relevant. Without doubt, this will result in the upskilling of the bid and proposal workforce, with so many investing in their bid writing, bid management and capture capabilities.

Recruitment has changed, there’s no doubt about it. The last 12 months have gone from despair, to challenging, back to despair, and now *touch wood* we’re coming out the far side of it stronger than before. I believe that there has been enough of a positive evolution in the way we work that recruiting will be quicker and more intuitive than ever before.

This article was written by Ben Hannon.

Ben is responsible for consistently providing longterm success for our clients in an increasingly competitive market. He understands the culture and winning mentality that ensures we stand out from the crowd.

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