Hiring Wizard Insights


Recruiting in Lockdown - Opportunity Amidst Uncertainty

The inevitable economic and commercial uncertainty caused by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has understandably halted all but urgent recruitment for many businesses across the UK. The priority for many employers, particularly those in the industries that have been hardest hit appears to have shifted to safeguarding existing roles and current employees.


A recent report by the IES (Institute for Employment Studies) showed that since the start of lockdown on the 18th March, the number of jobs advertised online has fallen by more than 50% across the board. Given the closure of pubs, restaurants and other leisure venues, it’s perhaps not surprising to learn that the hospitality industry has advertised 70% fewer than normal during this time.


Vacancies in the cleaning, social care and healthcare industries showed only a slight dip below their average during this time. Interestingly, those three sectors account for more than 25% of all vacancies advertised online during the lockdown period.


Another recent survey of more than 700 recruitment managers and business owners indicated that up to 65% have had to reduce their business headcount as a result of the COVID crisis. Furthermore, 23% have stated categorically that they won’t begin hiring again in 2020 and 34% were unsure at what point their respective businesses would be starting to recruit again.


Opportunities arising?


That said, there are several reasons to be cautiously optimistic. 28% of those who participated in that same survey reported that they are already actively recruiting, and a further 15% stated that they expect to start recruiting again later this year.


Furthermore, for those businesses who are recruiting now, there is yet more positive news. Various online job platforms have reported that, while vacancy numbers have fallen sharply, candidate application rates have increased week on week throughout April and May.


Considering the large number of furloughed workers and the significant proportion of the population working from home during lockdown, it appears that many candidates are understandably keeping their options open and actively seeking other potential opportunities.


With that in mind, given the significantly reduced competition for talent and the significantly increased appetite for jobs, it’s perhaps never been a more opportune time for businesses to recruit. This week alone, several of our Hiring Wizard clients have even started to remove adverts before the closing date as they have hired much faster than anticipated.


The new norm


It’s clear that the COVID-19 crisis will have a sustained impact on a number of businesses, with many industry leaders claiming that it may be several years before they return to ‘a new kind of normal’. One crucial aspect of this ‘new normal’ will undoubtedly include widescale adaptations to established interview and onboarding processes, as well as flexible or remote working arrangements.


While the immediate future of the UK economy remains largely uncertain, it’s clear that the recruitment industry will have it’s part to play in the inevitable recovery as millions return to work. 


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