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What I have learnt from recruiting in 2020.

14 December 2020

By Adam Butler

What I have learnt from recruiting in 2020.

It goes without saying that 2020 has been a year like no other for many people around the world. There has been significant sadness and loss of life due to the COVID-19 pandemic and this should not be understated. There has, of course, been other effects from COVID-19, not least of all on business and work life. These are some of the things I have seen change in the recruitment market over 2020 and what I have learnt from these changes.

More jobseekers and fewer jobs.

The pandemic has presented huge challenges in our working lives. It has changed the work environment from an office space to working from a kitchen / dining room table or if you are lucky from a spare bedroom / home office. It has changed how we interact with colleagues. No longer popping by someone’s desk to ask advice or to answer a question, now that needs to be done via phone / email or video call. With the changes that lockdown 1 and 2 brought to productivity, the inevitable happened and jobs in every sector have been lost to redundancy. This has meant that the market, particularly them market I work in, has been flooded with some incredibly talented candidates. There has been a significant reduction in vacancies and already accepted offers were rescinded. This combination meant that for the first time in over ten years there are more active jobseekers in my market than there were vacancies.

This change from a candidate short market to a vacancy short market meant that, as a recruiter, I have had to adapt and change the advice I give to candidates as the market shifts. It became clear that those candidates that were willing to take constructive advice on CV formatting, work location, and interview techniques for example, are far more likely to be successful in finding a new role. It is also clear that resilience plays a huge role in finding a new job. The candidates that can take disappointment on the chin and have learnt from it were far more likely to ultimately have success. This showed me that resilience and willingness to take advice are sometimes underestimated virtues in a job search and that I should be preparing and advising candidates to be resilient as they begin their hunt for a new role.  

Greater access to highly desired skills.

As mentioned above, when the first lockdown hit there was a dramatic reduction in vacancies and recruitment activity, from interviewing through to onboarding, across organisations in every market. The fear of what the virus would do to the economy and to their income meant that many businesses did what they could to consolidate their positions and sure up forward workload. This has meant that a lot of time and effort has been given to what might be lost and very little to what might be gained.

One of the biggest challenges for organisations recruiting in my sector over the last 10 years has been the significant skill shortage. Finding the right person with the right skills can take months and sometimes years. In a dramatic turnaround, now the market has been flooded wit people who have the right sort of skills. This has presented the opportunity to make a connection with suitable professionals, even if you are not in a position to hire imminently. A connection can be made, a conversation can be had, and a valuable pipeline of future talent can be established. This is the chance to ensure that when the market rebounds you and your business have access to the best in class professionals on the market. Few businesses have taken advantage and when the market returns, I feel that many of them will look back at this time as an opportunity missed. 

Resilience and opportunity.

Recruiting in 2020 has taught me two important lessons. Firstly, that resilience is a very important and much overlooked attribute. The ability to be resilience in the face of massive changes and uncertain times give a person and an organisation an advantage in whatever they are trying to achieve, including finding a new job or hiring. Secondly, opportunities are easily overlooked. All times of great change bring hardship, but they also bring about a chance for something new, something better. Those who can spot opportunity and act on it will make the best of a bad situation and likely prosper in the months and years to come.

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