I have been asked many times in the last couple of weeks how our business activity has been effected by this horrendous global pandemic. Its been an easy one to answer; its literally stopped us in our tracks. This is not a time for misplaced “recruiter bravado”, or unrealistic positivity; its a reality that I know resonates with countless other businesses within the human capital arena. The recruitment industry has – like many others – been almost silenced in the space of about a week. There are a few recruitment sectors unaffected, but all the soundings I am receiving from across our wide spectrum of advisers, clients and candidates are clear in their messaging that most hiring activity has ceased and the vast majority of recruitment businesses have gone into a survival mode. Most are pretty much writing off Q2.
The situation does of course make complete sense. Very few companies feel confident enough right now to add salary costs and headcount. Candidate interviews have been harder to organise, albeit video interviewing has certainly seen a huge increase. Few companies could even “on board” new colleagues effectively whilst we are locked down. The impact of the pandemic on real estate values remains unclear and may well takes several months to be priced in. Candidates are nervous of their current status, but equally concerned about being hired ahead of a possible/probable (delete as appropriate!) recession. It all feels very uncertain. This leaves the average recruiter somewhat dazed and confused! They are expected to constantly strive to be “better…faster…stronger”, only to now be told to go home and wait it out. Very odd indeed. I for one am finding home working is not to my liking and as much as this is cherished time with kids and family, I very much look forward to the buzz and fun of a lively office…where I don’t have to teach maths, followed by science and then a freestyle Lego build competition! Wow do I feel inadequate!!?
Recessions come and go. The last one created some amazing opportunities for new ideas and ambitious companies to launch. We were one such business, launching as we did in 2009. What we all now face for the next couple of years remains uncertain, one thing for sure is that people will play the key role in returning us to (hopefully), an even better place and recruitment will certainly have a significant part to play. Encouragingly within our real estate sectors we are beginning to speak with clients who are now starting to build their strategies around the inevitable opportunities in the medium term that will come from these unprecedented events. Its great to be around some optimism.
Recruiters are by and large, a tough breed. To succeed they need to be resolute, determined, resourceful and emotionally intelligent. These traits will serve us all well in the coming months. When the time comes for the wheels of commerce to turn again – and it will – I have no doubt that those of us working in the rewarding and dynamic recruitment arena will play our part in ensuring that we see a much needed return to business as usual; whatever that will look like. In the meantime, as a company we have taken all the difficult but necessary steps to preserve our business for the challenging months ahead. Our teams remains intact and eager to return to the markets that we love. I have nothing but admiration for the manner in which our team members have pulled together, shared the pain and confronted their new realities. It won’t be forgotten.
Best of luck everyone.