How Covid has unsettled the professional labour market – trust and reputation are more important than ever.

Our recent research into “The importance of job security and the criteria for your next job move – How have your opinions changed since Covid?” has produced some very interesting results.  Here are our findings:

Question 1: Given the events of 2020, how would you describe how your confidence about job security has changed?

The results given demonstrate that almost half of all respondents feel that their job security has been affected in some way by the Covid 19 pandemic. Within that group around 4 out of 5 feel less secure, perhaps unsurprisingly given the rising unemployment figures and the adverse effect of most companies’ revenue streams. Perhaps more intriguing is the remaining fifth who feel more secure as a result of the pandemic. Specific industries such as food retail, healthcare and certain technology businesses have thrived in response to global behavioural changes. However, the headline remains that Covid has unsettled the labour market and a much greater number of people are at least keeping an eye on other job opportunities.

Question 2: How have the events of 2020 affected your attitude towards a job move?

The results here tie into the first question in respect of those more likely to seek a new job being an almost identical proportion of those feeling less secure in their current position. This makes perfect sense, as to some degree, these individuals are being pushed towards the job market by their present less certain circumstances. However, for the remainder, around 60%, over half are less likely to move jobs than a year ago. Economic uncertainty and a volatile employment market are undoubtedly triggering a cautious approach amongst professionals who might otherwise have been open to a switch of employer. The takeaway here appears to be a polarisation of people’s attitudes towards changing jobs: if they feel insecure then consider a move but otherwise be extra conservative about moving.

Question 3: How receptive would you be if you received an unsolicited approach about a job move from the following sources?

Times of uncertainty tend to throw a spotlight on trust and this is borne out by the results to this question. From the five possible options “A former colleague” ranks top as a source of a job opportunity that a prospective candidate would pursue. Second highest was a “recruiter you already knew” which contrasted sharply with “recruiter you didn’t know” which was bottom of the five options offered. In summary, there is a clear divide between willingness to pursue a job through a known and trusted source versus a previously unknown or untested channel.

Question 4: Reflecting on the events of 2020, how have your attitudes changed? Are you more or less receptive to unsolicited approaches about a job from the following routes than you were previously?

The responses here reinforce the findings in question 3. In short, the better known the source of the job vacancy the more likely the individual is to follow up and express some interest in pursuing.

Question 5: Which of the following factors are important to you when considering a job move?

Work/Life Balance and Company Reputation have topped the priorities for job seekers in the current climate. Covid 19 has pulled the genie from the bottle in terms of home working and for many the prospect of going back to being 100% office-bound is undesirable. Apart from saving time associated with travel to an office, workers are able to have more flexibility when they work during the day facilitating school dropoffs for example. The increased importance of company reputation potentially has a couple of dimensions to it. Firstly, in a volatile economy, it makes sense for professionals to be more circumspect in choosing a new employer with a strong reputation as this associates closely with better job security and fair treatment during difficult trading conditions. Secondly, people are showing greater awareness of a potential employer’s corporate social responsibility and want to work for a firm that positively engages with customers, suppliers and the wider community.

Question 6: Bearing in mind the events of 2020, have the following factors become more or less important to you?

The responses to this question do much to support the conclusions from the previous question. The slight deviation is the higher ranking of a company’s financial performance suggesting that prospective candidates are more sensitive to the wider fortunes of the business than a year ago and are more reluctant to join a company that they perceive as suffering during the crisis. Again, there is a strong association between a company’s profit and future employment and career progression opportunities.


If you would like to discuss the implications of our findings for your hiring plans, and how we are helping our clients overcome some of these issues, please contact Simon Edbury via