It is well-noted that the recruitment industry has a history of incredible ingenuity and resilience. At the start of the global pandemic, when Covid-19 was beginning to create shock waves around the world and disrupting how businesses operate and people work, recruitment leaders quickly sought lessons learned from the 2008 financial crisis for insights to help get them through the months ahead.
Industry veterans offered a steady voice. Albert Ellis, the former CEO of Harvey Nash who led the company through the last recession, underscored the importance of agile leadership and the ability to make decisions quickly. He also warned of the dangers of panic and fear, and how they are not conducive to thoughtful decision-making. James Reed, chairman and CEO of Reed, also echoed the importance of agility and how the pandemic will be a catalyst to recalibrate business. Furthermore, SIA shared some excellent insights from a 2011 study which looked at the measures that helped staffing companies save their businesses in the last recession.
While the impact of Covid-19 is evidently having a very different impact on the global economy, the muscle memory and sense of community within the industry has undoubtedly been beneficial to many recruitment firms.
After quickly setting up their people for success working from home, or taking advantage of the government’s furlough scheme for those that need it, what’s remained a priority throughout is taking care of employees’ well being and mental health. LinkedIn saw a 749% increase globally in recruiters taking our free LinkedIn Learning courses on managing stress for positive change during March and April (compared to January and February), and a 527% increase in recruiters taking courses on building resilience during the same period.
Recruitment firms have also moved quickly to adapt to remote working, and creating virtual candidate and client experiences. For an industry built on in-person interaction and trusted relationships, this has been no easy feat. A whole new way of working has had to be established almost overnight, as well as the technology infrastructure to support it. It’s been important to ensure that recruiters continue to feel a sense of togetherness and camaraderie with their teams when working remotely, and that they can continue to build trusted relationships with candidates and clients.
Connecting with candidates and clients 100% virtually presents entirely new challenges. In times of uncertainty, trust is a defining factor in relationships. Some of the top qualities clients value in recruiters include trustworthiness, responsiveness and deep expertise. With strong interpersonal and communication skills being the hallmark of the industry, there is no doubt that recruitment consultants have adapted to this new way of working, and it’s unlikely now that they’ll ever go back to the old way completely.
Recruiters have also spent this time investing in their clients, mining data to uncover new insights about the industries they operate in and the workforce challenges they are likely to face in the future. This time to think ahead has also given firms the head space to identify emerging trends, discover new specialisms and areas of expertise that will be in-demand. This entrepreneurial mindset is critical to creating new client opportunities and future-proofing businesses.
As countries reemerge from lockdown, recruiters are primed to play a crucial role in restarting the economy. LinkedIn’s latest hiring data finds that the UK labor market is continuing to rebound, with hiring at -20%, compared to this time last year. Whilst the overall hiring rate is still negative, it is a significant improvement from the -49% registered in mid-May. Furthermore, virtually all industries have seen an improvement in hiring in the past few weeks.
While Covid-19 has presented businesses with many challenges, it has given every company the opportunity to reflect, reset and come back stronger. Recruiters are poised and ready to go to help people get back to work.