The only certainty is still… uncertainty

May 5, 2020 | Sector & policy

Sophie Meaney from Amberjack considers how student employers have responded to the crisis with considerations for the coming weeks and months.

It has been eight weeks since the UK entered lockdown and we hosted our webinar in partnership with the ISE. It was truly early days in terms of how this global pandemic would impact all our lives, and we discussed what solutions and technologies could potentially support the recruitment sector. I talked about how the world of work was already changing and that this would just accelerate the pace. My advice to organisations was to be bold, to embrace digital and be courageous. Now was not the time to play it safe.

What has happened since and what action has this forced employers to take?

In terms of digital transformation, McKinsey have reported 70% of executives across Europe think that the pandemic is likely to accelerate the pace of digital transformation – the luxury of time has disappeared – and this seems to have translated across all organisations and business functions. From homeworking to re-thinking entire customer engagement strategies, they report that organisations across the globe have been moved up the adoption curve, at pace, as technology has become critical to every interaction that we have.

And the recruitment sector is no different. We’ve seen some of the largest student recruiters in the UK turn their assessment centres into virtual events, practically overnight. In addition, our own industry body, ISE and organisations such as The Recruitment Events Company, have pivoted their offering and delivered exceptional online events in a matter of weeks – take a look at Talent Tech Rising.

How will the new recruitment season be affected?

We still face an enormous amount of uncertainty. Most recent research from the ISE highlighted that 40% of organisations (based on insight from 179 student recruiters) are still unsure of how their apprentice and graduate intakes will be affected. What is clear is that the majority will still be actively looking to hire, albeit in lower numbers and with reduced budgets.

Which brings me to my first point – Doing more with Less. At Amberjack we define efficiencies as ‘achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense’. In the world of future talent recruitment this can be measured by the time it takes for a candidate to progress from application to offer, the savings made on the cost per hire or the resource it takes to create the actual process itself. Now more than ever, there will be a lens on how systems and processes will bring maximum efficiency cross the candidate journey.

Virtual is here to stay… for now – Like it or not, virtual recruiting is likely to be here for some time, most certainly for the next season. Whilst some organisations had finished their recruiting before lockdown, many were forced to adopt new technologies, in order to meet their hiring demand. Early feedback gathered from the ISE on virtual assessment centres is reporting little detrimental impact on candidates and some clear standout benefits, which means we may see the continuation of this new trend post pandemic. You can read more on the ISE blog: Employer Learnings from Virtual Assessment Centres.

The only certainty is more change – In previous recessions and downturns, we’ve had more time to plan and experience of navigating the turbulent economic conditions. This is a new world for all of us. Past experience is no longer a predictor of future success, work is no longer somewhere you go, it’s what you do and to and build a robust and successful workforce organisations need to start focusing on one thing – potential. Individuals who can successfully apply their intellect to new situations, have a digital mindset and use creative force and grit are best placed to navigate this new normal.

It’s going to be an interesting and challenging recruitment season for us all, but within all of this uncertainty we must not forget the basics and remember to look for new opportunities.

Firstly, don’t forget the hygiene factors. Diversity and inclusion and candidate experience are arguably more important now than ever. Using the candidate journey to provide educational and insightful experiences and providing feedback to help students learn more about themselves, is invaluable to them and support to maintain a positive employer brand. McKinsey reported that organisations who continue to focus on building a diverse workforce, are now more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability.

And use this as opportunity to embrace new ideas and change. Now has never been a better time to build a strong business case and implement new technologies. From those that support a better candidate experience to systems that help drive efficiencies, we need to position our businesses in the best way to thrive in the post pandemic world. There are opportunities everywhere if we look for them, which gives us hope that from this crisis we could emerge stronger – if we are brave.

Read ISE’s latest research on how employers are responding to the crisis:
Covid-19: The impact of the crisis on student recruitment and development.

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