Covid 19 is throwing the global economy into a deep recession. That much is obvious. What is less clear is when the recovery starts and how long it will take.
From an individual business perspective the beginning of your revenue recovery will depend on what industry you are a part of, or supply to, but reading between the lines many economic forecasters are expecting the worst for the remainder of 2020 with an equally sharp recovery starting in 2021.
So if your business starts to see green shoots towards the end of this year or early next, what can you expect when you look to strengthen your team? Will recruitment be easy or hard given the wider economic circumstances?
The answer is a bit of both.
Hiring people in what was, pre-Covid, a specialist, candidate short market may become easier because most industries will see some redundancies.
Furlough schemes in Europe are expected to taper off during Q3 leaving employers to pick up at least a portion of their furloughed employees wages or start making redundancies. It feels inevitable that a number of skilled, experienced workers will be forced into the job market.
Naturally, they become active job seekers, sending their CV directly to advertised positions and registering with sector specific recruitment agents. In short, the availability of previously hard to find skill sets and specific sector experience improves considerably.
In addition, the candidate’s negotiation position on salary is a lot weaker. Whilst gainfully employed pre-crisis they would only move for a decent increment in remuneration. Now, they are more than likely to be happy with parity with their last salary, making them cheaper on your payroll.
In summary, finding candidates is easier and they cost less to hire.
However, and this is the uncomfortable bit, companies often use a period of cost cutting to jettison their weakest performers. Sure, it’s the position that gets made redundant not the individual but, off the record, many senior decision makers ensure their best people get retained whilst below average head for the exit.
This begs the question: Are the newly available and relatively inexpensive candidates really the people you want to hire?
Naturally, there will be some high performers who are merely a victim of circumstance and they are the hidden gems if you are hiring, but buyer beware of every CV that ends up in your inbox. And prepare yourself, if past recessions are anything to go by, there will be an awful lot of applicants with very little relevant experience swamping your inbox or overwhelming your recruitment team.
So let’s say you pick up a couple of excellent new employees from the huge flux in the employment market but you still have positions to fill. You decide to contact directly, or via a recruiter, potential candidates working in your competitors.
This is where you can expect it to be even tougher than pre-Covid hiring. Why?
From personal experience of approaching hundreds of candidates, I know you will get a much higher incidence of one of these two reactions.
“My current company has been loyal to me through a very difficult period, I feel I owe them that loyalty back”
“The economy still looks uncertain at the moment and I don’t want to take the risk of moving jobs”
No matter how attractive your company, job or salary is, these are very difficult objections to overcome.
So how do you react? The best way to deal with this is three-fold.
Firstly, ensure whoever is doing your recruiting (internally or third party) is a fantastic ambassador for your company and can brilliantly convey your job proposition to a prospective candidate thus maximising the chances of them getting interested and wanting to take it further.
Secondly, make sure the list of candidate targets is long enough to give you a strong chance of finding those who are willing to take the risk of a job move. Yes, it’s a numbers game and a real test of thoroughness.
Finally, start pipelining candidates before you are ready to hire. In other words, reach out to candidates who look like they could be a fit for your organisation and start a dialogue. Be transparent about when you are hoping to hire and view this as investing in a relationship via regular, meaningful contact.
In an economy as volatile as this, individuals’ circumstances and attitude towards a job move can change very quickly in your favour. If you have established contact and credibility with them you are already ahead of your competitors in your pursuit of the best possible talent.