Finding Work during Lockdown

Looking for a job during lockdown? It may seem like a daunting prospect during such unprecedented and challenging times. So you might be surprised at the results of a small survey we conducted of candidates and employers we helped during January.

Lockdown and business

During the first lockdown last March, many business sectors saw a catastrophic reduction in their sales with some reporting an 85% drop.  Many took advantage of the government furlough scheme just to keep their businesses afloat.  So recruiting new staff was certainly not an option.

We’re now in lockdown number 3 and really for many not much has changed.  The hospitality sector, tourism etc. are completely shut down with no idea when they can reopen for business. So the redundancies are increasing each week and the outlook for many is bleak.

Reasons to be cheerful

But it’s not all bad. We know from our own experience that some businesses have started recruiting again. We conducted a survey of employers at the end of last year – we asked them if they would be recruiting in 2021 and it was good to hear over 50% said they would and we think the percentage could even be higher once we see the green shoots starting to appear later in the spring. Read our blog post.

The companies which are starting to thrive again are those which have successfully adapted to the new ways of working. They have embraced the virtual world in which we all have to live now. Before the pandemic struck, who could have imagined recruiting someone you hadn’t met in person? But now Zoom calls, virtual team meetings and lots of other new technological innovations have created a new working environment which is slowly becoming the norm.

Survey of Employers & Candidates – Case Studies

During the month of January 2021, we successfully placed a number candidates with client companies. We were curious to know what the process had been like for both candidates and employers. So we spoke to a several of the client companies and  candidates with some really interesting results.

We asked the Employers:

Q1. What was the reason for needing to recruit?
A1. All companies were focussed on growing their teams moving forward. Oli Walters, Head of Sales, Podfront was ‘increasing their headcount after a very successful 2020.’

Q2. Why did you choose to use a recruiter and why did you choose Harrison Dear Sales?
A2. All of the clients commented on our deep industry knowledge and expertise and their positive experiences of working with us in the past. They recognised that this would save them time and money in comparison to recruiting themselves

Q3. How did you find virtual interviewing?
A3. All found it a very different process to normal and some found it challenging. However, they all found that once they got the hang of it, it was a lot easier than they had though. Gerard Edwards, CEO The Podcast Radio even commented that ‘…in some ways, it has it charms’. They all agreed that it was no less effective than face to face interviewing

Q4. Were you happy with the number of CVs/interviews that were conducted?
A4. All agreed that they were happy and one remarked on the ‘simple, quick and good communication’.

Q5. Were you at all uneasy about employing someone who you’ve never met face to face?
A5. John Donavon, CEO Because We Can Media confirmed that he did feel a little bit uneasy at first but said that their new employee had turned out to be ‘very personable’ and after this experience they felt they had adapted to the ‘new normal’ and would embrace it ‘full steam ahead!’ The others felt that after several virtual chats ‘it felt strangely normal’.

Q6. How did you ensure a smooth onboarding process and making sure your new starter feels part of the team?
A6. Planning and communication were cited as being key. Lots of virtual meetings across the company and also one to one meetings helped. Ensuring that their new employee had everything they needed to make the process as easy as possible for them

Q7. Was there anything that Harrison Dear Sales could have done differently during these unprecedented times?
A7. All clients confirmed that they were very happy with our help – it’s great to know that we too have adapted to the new ways of working and can continue to support our clients in their job searches.

We asked the Candidates:

Q1. How did you feel being out of work during the pandemic?
A1. Responses ranged from ‘anxious’ to ‘scary’.  So many people unemployed and worried about competition

Q2. Did you look for jobs yourself or just speak to specialist recruiters?
A2. One said ‘Both, spread the net far and wide. Exploring all avenues’. Whereas the others mentioned LinkedIn and applying direct

Q3. How did you find virtual interviews? Did you have any help/advice about how best to construct yourself?
A3. All mentioned that the personal connection you get from face to face was lacking and they found it challenging to ‘get their full personality across’ and recognised how important this was.

Q4. When we secured you your new role, how did you feel starting a new job without actually having met anyone face to face?
A4. They all found this a bit tricky and one commented that it felt ‘really intimidating’ but they all recognised the support from their employers and how lucky they had been.

Q5. How did you find the onboarding period?
A5. All were very positive about the effort made by their new employers in this process. They felt that the more they interacted with colleagues in virtual meetings the more confident they became to be able to fully participate and feel part of the team.

Q6. Do you have any advice for anyone in the same boat and looking for work?
A6. The main message was ‘stay positive!’ Do your research and feed it back into the interview’ and finally ‘just do it – it’s not as bad as it seems’.

Our Conclusions

So in conclusion, the responses of our survey confirm that companies and job hunters are adapting to the new virtual world which seems set to continue for the immediate future. Many companies have recognised some distinct advantages provided by these new ways of working and are planning to continue with them post-pandemic.

Nikki Shack, Director of Harrison Dear Sales commented ‘Our clients and candidates have coped amazingly well with the challenges brought about by lockdown. And the recruitment processes we have introduced have been incredibly successful, borne out by the results of this survey.’