It is no surprise that the recruitment industry has struggled as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. With businesses having to cut budgets to stay afloat, recruiting new talent was halted across many different sectors.
However, with the UK government having now announced a roadmap out of lockdown, and some businesses finding they have weathered the Covid storm, there is indeed renewed optimism that recruitment and employment levels will soon begin their recovery. This is highlighted today in the much less than expected drop in economic output registered for January, compared to the first lockdown in March/April last year.
Extra measures to support businesses have also been announced; additional finance to support apprenticeships and traineeships as well as fast track visas to attract talent to the UK are just some of the initiatives that the government has outlined in its March Budget. Whilst optimism may be high, after a year of halted employment opportunities for many, recruitment professionals will undoubtedly need to change their approach in the years post-pandemic, to reflect the impact that Covid and lockdown have inevitably had on the workforce.
With a lack of work experience opportunity, the inability for many professionals to progress in their roles as usual, and many missing out on qualifications or achieving lower than expected grades due to interrupted teaching and cancelled exams or assessments, how must attracting talent adapt to accommodate job hunters affected by Covid?
When businesses are looking to hire new candidates in the next few years, hiring for aptitude over what is written on a candidate’s CV may be a fairer way to assess whether they are suited for the role.
For many individuals, especially younger candidates, the inability to complete work experience placements throughout the pandemic has clearly impacted the contents of their CV. According to a survey by Prospects, 26.1% of recent graduates lost their work placement or internship and 28.2% had their initial job offer deferred or cancelled due to the complications of the pandemic. Typically, candidates who may have the real ability to thrive in a particular industry but are not able to show any industry experience, often miss out on even getting an interview at a company in the first place.
But with so many now in this position, businesses should look past their requirement for work experience and what is written on a CV, and instead use aptitude tests or online assessment centres to identify the candidates that are most suited. Recruiters can work with their clients to decide on some key tests that candidates must pass, or a short task to complete to show their capability, to ensure the most skilled applicants are not being overlooked.
Adapting to the new kind of candidate will also require job descriptions to be updated. Following a year of restricted opportunity and the inability for many people to gain the qualifications or experience that they had planned, it will be necessary for employers to update their entry requirements to fit this new intake.
For example, if you run a graduate recruitment programme and previously require that candidates have completed two weeks of work placement at a particular company, it is highly unlikely that recent graduates will have been able to complete this in the last twelve months.
Therefore, it is in the interest of both parties that revised requirements are put in place. By adapting their criteria, businesses are ensuring that they are addressing the current market and refining their guidelines and those who are looking for a job, will know that the company is the right one to approach.
According to recent research completed by GetApp, business shifts caused by the pandemic have meant that required skill sets have changed for over 84% of businesses.
With businesses having to quickly adapt to the challenges posed by Covid-19, many have struggled as their teams have not had the required skills to assist with these evolving demands. Thirty per cent mentioned web and app development as their biggest skill need, with 29% citing social media marketing as their top needed skill. With these skill requirements being needed by many companies now, and most likely in the months following the pandemic, it may prove difficult to recruit for them externally.
Implementing training that both enables existing staff to be reskilled and allows candidates to be hired and ‘trained up’ if they do not have all the requirements when initially hired, is a great way to welcome people to the business but is also a cost-effective solution to hiring and retaining talent within the business.
This internal training opportunity considers the evolving landscape but also allows new candidates to learn on the job – a strong incentive for many job hunters who can add to their skillset once they secure a role.
The past 12 months have been challenging for businesses and job hunters alike. With reduced opportunities, halts on hiring and businesses in financial peril, there is now a wave of optimism that the landscape can begin to return to normal over the next few years. Whilst businesses will be looking to grow, it is also their responsibility to adapt to the evolving candidate, to avoid penalising certain applicants and missing out on promising talent. Acting now will ensure businesses are best prepared and can support the Covid-cohort to enter into meaningful careers.