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A Recruiter Through Lockdown

Posted in General News on 7th June 2021

As we are now coming out of lockdown following the relaxation of government measures, I thought I would put together a short article to outline my experiences/challenges from past months and whilst doing this highlighting the positive changes that the pandemic has had on the recruitment industry moving forward.

To give some context my perspective and opinions come from working in the IT sector, whilst working in an agency environment following a contingency based recruitment model.

How it all started:

Following government news of a pending lockdown at the end of March and news from various client’s that we work with advising that recruitment was being put on hold, as a business we sat around the board room table to discuss what we would do moving forward as it was apparent that tough times were ahead.

Without going into all the ins and outs what was clear is that the following months would be challenging from a recruitment perspective both practically and emotionally for all individuals in the company. Following that meeting I knew personally I had to adapt quickly as the following was apparent.

Home working:

Straight away I had to go home and work due to obvious distancing and lockdown measures. Now to many that sounds like a very attractive proposition, when talking to many candidates about a new job benefits, home working is something that frequently comes up as something which is attractive for many reasons of which most of those reasons I wouldn’t disagree.

For myself personally however not so much. As many who are reading this may know recruitment can be a very fast moving, competitive and sometimes a stressful job to be involved in, not to say that the job is not enjoyable but there are many ups and downs, trails and tribulations. I am sure every recruiter has his or her fair share of stories but that’s for another day. My point is that office banter and camaraderie is something which helps me keep on going in the day and is something I enjoy. Apart from that I love the routine of going into the office, getting up in the morning, getting fresh, ready and in the car for some early morning bangers from MC Herbert and then I am ready to start the day.   

Working from home has had its benefits, working with my mate Tommy who has been a fantastic colleague throughout. I may only get a woof when I crack a belter of joke, but it has been great to spend more time with him.

Clients:

Going from a predominately candidate driven market previously it had just turned on its head. Jobs were now fewer (for the short term anyway) with many employer’s putting a freeze on all recruitment activity.

As a recruiter still operating it was important to identify new niches where vacancies are still relatively inelastic even during a global pandemic, whilst carrying on going above and beyond in terms of offering a quality service to existing clients.

Due to the great relationships built prior to COVID-19 I had some fantastic clients who I worked with closely throughout the pandemic despite the barrage they were getting from other agency recruiter’s understandable desperate for job’s due to the lack of vacancies in the market. These client’s still chose to stay loyal to the agencies or agency that had served them well before the pandemic, which goes to show the value of offering a quality long term quality service.

In terms of new business, it was important to identify businesses which were BAU but also with vacancies which were inelastic regardless of the pandemic needing candidates that have niche hard to come by skills. This was something I was successful in identifying as regardless of the pandemic, there are still some candidates who are very difficult to find and recruit!

With this in mind I managed to recruit for some new businesses whilst arranging client meeting’s via Microsoft Team’s and Zoom. I must confess that there were times where I was smart up top but with shorts down below or I had just had my COVID-19 skin head cut so I balanced of the look with some intellectual looking glasses!

Candidates:

Logically you could assume that given the pandemic with many businesses struggling, there would be many candidates on the market, this was not necessarily the case in many technical niches.

Although there were many redundancies and there obviously is exceptions, many technical niches remained very candidate short as they had always have been even prior to COVID.

A characteristic of successful recruiter in my opinion is to convince passive candidates to explore a new position in the hope they will find that the grass is greener once they have engaged with the new company once interviewing.

However many of these candidates were now adamant to stay put due to the uncertainty in the economy due to COVID, with many examples of job’s being pulled after a candidates handing in there notice or being let go within their probation period.

Although COVID did provide some advantages in this area in terms of interviewing which brings me on to the next section.

Interview Processes:

I found the changes to interview processes from many client’s refreshing. Many candidates would traditionally have to take the day off work, drive to the companies’ offices and find parking, sometimes an arduous process. Alternatively remote interviewing allowed candidates to interview on lunch breaks, or when they finish early of a Friday from the comfort of their homes which made the process far more convenient.

Remote interviewing also made the time from CV sent to hire much quicker on average due to the above fact and as many 1st and 2nd stage interviews for example were often a day or two apart. Traditionally the candidate would have to book another day off which would often make the interviews a week or two apart.

Finally because of the above reason’s it made convincing passive candidates to pursue an opportunity easier and more plausible in this regard, a major reason for employer’s to consider remote interviewing or at least partial remote interviewing moving forward when wanting to attract great talent.

To conclude:

From the last months working throughout lockdown I have taken some key point’s away from the experience.

  1. Tenacity is key in recruitment and in life, keep on going.
  2. Long term relationships are essential when the going is good, but they are even more prominent when the going gets bad. (I suppose that is another point which is again true in life as in recruitment)
  3. Aim for a technical niche where there is current high demand for that skill set.
  4. Remote interviewing work’s and has some great benefits. I believe employers should implement it as part of their interview process moving out of COVID.

Thank you, Harry Herbert

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