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Post-Lockdown What Has Changed for Candidate-Side Recruitment in Kent?

Post-Lockdown What Has Changed for Candidate-Side Recruitment in Kent?
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by
Recruitment Consultant

Over the last 6 months there has been a huge volume of change. Today’s blog post is brought to you with the aim of delivering real-time market insights into the changes that we have seen, felt and advised many candidates looking for jobs in Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks, Kings Hill and Kent on.

Every day, our teams meet with multiple candidates, across 3 office locations and speak with hundreds of businesses that are hiring in Kent. This means our teams of consultants are well placed to identify, assess and navigate changes across businesses and the ‘TN’ recruitment marketplace. as they take place. With national lockdown lifted for 2/3 months, now is an excellent time to identify the immediate and short term trends that candidates have experienced and continue to navigate.

Part of our role, in brokering recruitment between candidates and clients, is based on advising and providing constructive recommendations. For example, by noticing that salaries aren’t trending upwards any longer, or that business are transitioning to using more Temp to Perm contracts, we can relay this information to candidates and guide them to adjust their approach to securing employment. Equally, by identifying that candidates are placing increasing importance of Work-Life flexibility such as Work From Home options, we can guide companies to deploying this as an offering to new hires- based on our experiences.

Therefore, whilst placing candidates into companies is our source of business income, our job is far more multi-faceted than pure transactional relationships with business; well at RecSol it is anyway…………..!

Coming away from lockdown and all the sudden changes it represented, and moving into a period of economic recession and market uncertainty, many questions remain: are we experiencing a V-Shaped economic recovery, within which the steep decline is matched with a strong recovery? Are we experiencing a fundamental, structural, set of lasting change or short-term shifts bound to return to the 'old normal'? And centrally, post-covid lockdown, what has changed for candidates looking for jobs in Kent?

Flexibility - Flexibility is always relevant during periods of change: as it tends to be those capable of best adapting to changing environments that are best placed to ‘survive and thrive’ (https://www.instagram.com/p/CEiviKwAxpV/), overall flexibility indicates the capacity to adapt! So, in what practical ways have we seen flexibility become a prominent covid/lockdown-triggered change?

  • Candidates being more responsive to job vacancies that perhaps wouldn’t fit their prior/traditional job search requirements; both in a positive and negative fashion. Positively, candidates who are able to up-skill themselves/demonstrate their transferable skills, have gained access to whole new careers that they wouldn’t have considered previously. However, negatively, the coronavirus has brought about some desperation such as from some candidates wanting to drop significant salary levels (for jobs that ultimately they will leave in the short-medium turn), and from candidates trying to over-commit their commuting distances, or spam applying for job adverts detailing requirements that don’t suit.
  • Also, there has been an increasing demand for jobs with flexible working in Tunbridge Wells and surrounding areas. Rather than being onsite, a huge volume of employees have enjoyed the flexibility that working from home during lockdown provided, and are either hoping for their employer to continue to offer some level of this flexibility, or are looking for jobs that present the freedom to avoid commuting to work, and even offer to work different hours. This has been carried over into the London-commuter market too. Many candidates over the past 3 months have approached us having always previously commuted into London for work, now looking for the flexibility that reducing/cutting out their commute will give.

Desire for security - Stability and security have been an increased core demand for job seekers over the past 6 months. This period of lockdown and recession demonstrate to jobseekers in a real and harsh way which companies are stable and able to offer career / job security. Be this through contract cancellations, redundancies or cancelled employment offers, the virus period has triggered a demand to work for companies that economically and culturally sound. This has manifested itself in a couple of ways:

  • Difficulty for start ups needing to hire; Whilst start ups in this environment represent genuine entrepreneurialism, desire and excitement, to some job seekers they also represent a risk that outweighs their willingness to join. Of course we would never share this thought, as employment decisions should be made on empirical facts not cultural mood shifts! Whilst start ups can represent a risk, identifying their value set, market opportunity and organisational structure/output should influence the decision to join one, rather than generalised sweeping statements; albeit, more questions/doubts over joining start ups have been a trend through this time.
  • Trainees and linear career development; those in performance-led jobs have found real challenge to match their previous earnings through this period, which has led to an increased desire from candidates, for linear career environments that can offer salary security. In physical terms this, during lockdown, had meant to a trend away from roles such as estate agency, recruitment, sales, customer services and towards more linear environments (such as IT, HR, design/creative). Having said this however, since lockdown, we have seen major growth to the performance-led roles as candidates sense huge market opportunity as the world ‘reopens’, rather than the fear and negativity during national lockdown.

Recruitment with professionalism and integrity!; In a period of gross uncertainty- where businesses have reduced propensity to invest in new staff, there is huge candidate availability and jobs are scarce- only the most reliable recruiters are able to thrive. There is no room for recruiters who do not protect the reputation of their clients by treating vacancies with sensitivity, and treating candidates with honesty and respect when explaining their feedback - on CV’s as well as interviews. Recruiters don’t have the luxury of lots of clients to work with, as so few business are ready to think about hiring, so they have to throw all focus into getting it right for the clients who are active. This is compounded by the desperation and negativity in the market, where candidates do mass-apply to jobs, and they certainly will remember the recruiters and companies who 'ghost' them, or don’t provide the support and advice level needed to gain employment in this market.

So, what is our advice?

Well… Don’t just keep doing the same and hoping for something different. Hopefully you might have noticed our Instagram quote posts (found at https://www.instagram.com/rec_sol/ ) which centre on motivating candidates to stay positive and to re-analyse their approach to job hunting with some wise words from Charles Darwin, Einstein and Abraham Lincoln.

Really, candidates need to identify their market opportunity, ie what changes can they make to their expectations and CV to fit the demands of the new norm post-lockdown. Whether this means considering transitioning to a new industry, adjusting their salary expectations, or really thinking through their interview technique to meet the demand of Zoom/Microsoft Teams.

Each day, we do our utmost to help everyone we speak to. On the candidate side we provide insight into live vacancies and market conditions, and how best to access them; we meet with candidates for consultation sessions and provide tailored interview advice; and we deliver honest and transparent interview feedback constructively, so that should you face the same challenge in another hiring process, you can better tackle it.

We don’t just put you forwards for one role, we discuss every single opportunity that we can with you, so that you maximise your opportunity to gain employment.

If you would like for our help, get in contact today here: https://www.recsol.co.uk/Contact . Alternatively, see our social media, as linked in the page footer!