The UK eagerly awaited the scheduled announcement from the Prime Minister on Sunday 10th May, with the expectation of lockdown being eased a prediction of the hopeful, while the realists among us perhaps knew that it’s still too early for that. And while there remains to be some clarity on exactly what we can and can’t do (remember, you can go out but you can’t, and go to work but don’t travel, and don’t go to work if you can work from home – and please, PLEASE stay alert, whatever that’s supposed to mean) one thing is for sure: uncertainty remains. So just what does the latest Covid-19 news mean for recruiters and what should we all be doing more of to keep battling on?
Covid-19: the never-ending news focus for recruitment
While Boris Johnson’s announcement wasn’t full of the clarity that many people had hoped for, there have been announcements since that have certainly been welcomed by most. The extension of the furlough scheme in particular has meant many of us in the recruitment sphere – and across the entire UK – breathed a sigh of relief. As those in the field will be more than well aware, the sudden removal of this job retention scheme would undoubtedly lead to mass redundancies, a situation we’re all keen to avoid.
The possibility of returning to business as usual for those who have been unable to work from home – provided the environment is safe to operate in – has also created a level of positivity. It is, of course, too soon to really see what impact this will have in terms of employment numbers and hiring, but the conversations we’ve been having with recruitment experts across multiple specialisms indicate some sense of positivity. As a case in point, it’s highly likely that as construction sites are able to reopen under certain restrictions, employment opportunities for contractors will also follow an upward trajectory.
As Ann Swain, CEO of the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) explained in a recent interview, contract opportunities will certainly rebound much quicker than permanent. But the fact is, they will come back. And as much as I might agree that the PM’s announcement was full of the waffle that we’ve come to expect from him, it does seem to have had a small impact on confidence in some areas of the economy.
The future of recruitment
There’s a lot of predictions flying round as to what the world of work and hiring will look like in the future, and while the rapid pace of change with respect to Covid-19 news means it’s impossible to predict exactly what will happen to recruitment, there are some things we can all agree on:
- Uncertainty is the new certainty: this phrase has been batted around the talent attraction and management field my entire career (which is longer than I care to admit) but it has never been more appropriate than it is now. No one could’ve predicted this crisis and how the world would respond to it, and no one can say what will happen next. But I firmly believe that it has helped many businesses become more agile, which will certainly stand them in good stead in the future.
- Views on remote working have changed: Those of you who have taken part in or watched any of our live Twitter Q&A’s will perhaps already know my thoughts on this topic and I’m not alone in this view. As so many employers who were perhaps sceptical as to how or if remote working would work for their business were given no choice but to try it, many were pleasantly surprised that it works. In fact, some think it works better – why else would Twitter offer its staff the chance to work from home forever (though that does sound rather dismal to me if I’m honest and I can’t wait to get back to the office environment). For recruitment agencies, this creates a fantastic opportunity. How long has the industry had to manage the battle about flexible and remote working that’s been going on between candidates and employers? And the challenge of an applicant’s location will be diminished in some instances where the option to work from home is available.
- Virtual is the way forward: While hiring has been significantly impacted, it is still happening in some areas. Research from APSCo suggests that interviews halved during April – but that meant half still went ahead. Clearly, then video hiring is being utilised and certainly will in the future. For agencies, demonstrating your experience in this area and providing actionable tips will certainly stand you out from the crowd as more employers try to make the most of online video tools to ‘meet’ candidates. And of course, what better way to showcase your knowledge of video, than via video!
Preparing for the bounce back: nailing business development
If we look towards the future, when the bounce back does eventually happen it will undoubtedly be a client led market for recruitment firms. With more people looking for jobs – whether that be because they are out of work due to coronavirus-related redundancies or simply no longer happy with their current career prospects – most hiring managers certainly won’t be short of options.
For recruiters, standing out from the crowd is certainly going to be more difficult than ever, but nailing that cold call or winning a new client can be achieved with the right approach. As myself and our Associate Director, Steph King, recently outlined in a training webinar for The Recruitment Network, there are a number of steps you can take to really bolster your BD activity:
- Showcase your knowledge, not your contacts: the old adage ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’ is arguably less relevant now. Instead, employers want more – they want your knowledge.
- Use your content to your advantage: where you have copy being produced for your company website, third party sites or social media profiles, make sure you’re really leveraging every possible opportunity from it. Send it directly to your business prospects or share with a contact after a call to give them something to remember you by.
- Give comments, not likes: Joining in with conversations online through a quick like is no longer effective. Instead, you need to make sure you’re joining and driving the conversation, so get commenting!
You can learn more about maximising your business development success in the free webinar here.
The future of recruitment PR and Marketing
Of course, as the world of work and recruitment changes, so to do the marketing and PR strategies that work. Never before has effective communication been so critical to the success of businesses. As I outlined in my recent blog, in times of crisis being vocal is key, and recruitment agencies will certainly see the benefit of communicating well in light of the on-going Covid-19 news. Going forward, thought leadership PR – where businesses focus on sharing their knowledge, thoughts and expertise – will deliver the best ROI to recruitment firms. But they need to be implemented properly. And that’s where I shamelessly plug BlueSky PR. Everything I’ve outlined above is based on the experience of the team, so if you want to find out more about what PR, marketing and communications strategies will work for your recruitment agency, why not contact us today?