Over the past 2 weeks, the feeling of many businesses has changed a great deal. Those who are not reliant on mass gatherings, travel, tourism or leisure have continued to recruit. However, many other sectors have frozen their recruitment. On top of this, many recruiters themselves have been laid off.
As things look at the time of writing, recruitment in food retail has increased. As supermarkets struggle to get stock in quickly enough, food shortages are not the problem. In my conversation with a member of staff from our local Sainsburys, he said he’d called the distribution center for more stock. The distribution center was full of stock, but they were struggling to find enough drivers to meet the demand for deliveries.
This seems to be a common theme. Last week, Ocado closed down its app and website while it made adjustments to be able to meet demand. Furthermore, the issue has subsequently been raised by food suppliers. Many have, quite amazingly, repurposed to help the national effort of getting food to those who need it. However, they too are now having difficulty finding enough drivers to meet order demand.
I won’t dwell on this point too much. But what I would like to think about is where the recruitment industry goes from here. As recruiters, we are trained to look out for specific key skills and, in certain instances, relevant recent experience.
This brings me to my point of concern. If the lockdown continues and people lose jobs, I suspect that we will see many people taking jobs in the areas with increased demand – such as food retail and healthcare. Maybe they will do this on a temporary basis until their preferred industries start recruiting again.
How many people could take temporary jobs?
The UK government has taken extraordinary measures to ensure that companies can retain as many of their staff as possible. However, The Telegraph has reported on March 26th that almost half a million people have already signed up for Universal Credit. While some will be those who were made redundant from permanent jobs, many will be professionals who work as consultants on a self-employed basis.
What might this mean when recruitment resumes?
There are people whose careers never got back on track after the 2008 financial crisis. With this in mind, when recruitment does return to normal, I would urge employers to retain the nation’s we’re all in this together spirit.
This could be achieved by remembering that, if this lockdown goes on for many months, they will see an increase in CVs with unusual career diversions. When the time comes, let’s please consider ‘recent, relevant experience’ in a new light. Let’s consider this period – March 2020 to the foreseeable’ – as the crisis it is and not a reflection on anyone’s career. As recruiters, we might consider that those candidates who have taken a temporary role have shown adaptability, problem-solving ability and strength of character in the face of adversity that is unprecedented in our lifetime. These soft skills should be valued and applauded.