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The recruitment industry must strive for positivity in the face of COVID-19

Posted on 18/03/2020
by Nick Boulton

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I’m quickly learning that positivity is both hard-earned and easily lost.

As the co-owner of a business, positivity is vital at the best of times and doubly so during times of crisis. You must keep your head for the sake of your sanity and your employees’ sanity too. Being responsible for people’s livelihoods while revenue tanks is not the tonic for a good night’s sleep.

We’re all aware of how big a challenge the next 12-18 months will be. Businesses have had to grapple with the ignominy of a disjointed Brexit, a General Election, and the mess called IR35 (the Government’s decision to delay changes for 12 months is a welcome relief). And now, we’re all staring down the barrel of a pandemic and the largest economic shock since the Global Financial Crisis, just to keep things ‘interesting’.

I’m loathed to think of this as an ‘opportunity’. The last thing we need is people rubbing their hands and thinking “Oooh, how can I make a quick buck out of this?” (The only hand rubbing we need right now involves soap and water.) But for the sake of sanity, positivity must win out, and there is a huge opportunity to do good.

What does ‘positivity’ look like for businesses? Real positivity? I was recently sent a very apt message which put our current predicament into perspective:

“Your grandparents were called to fight in world wars. You’re being called to wash your hands sit on the sofa and practise social distancing. Don’t fuck this up!”

I understand that most businesses are pragmatic. That’s borne of one thing: people doing things to help other people. The recruitment industry is aptly placed to do this. Our clients and candidates will look to us for clarity, assistance and expertise – just like they always have.

So other than working hard and smart, here are a few tips for recruiters to get through this mayhem:

  • Check in with all you candidates. It’s worrying times for everyone and they might be concerned about job security. Empathise, give them market information where possible and strengthen those relationships.
  • Most people are WFH, so they are likely to pick up the phone. Call them, even if you don’t have a role for them. Build that rapport, so you are the first person they call when the tide turns.
  • Figure out who, if any, of your clients can execute their entire hiring process remotely – and I mean the ENTIRE process:
    • Interviews
    • Offering candidates,
    • Reference and credit checks
    • On-boarding them and ensuring they have what they need to work remotely
  • Prioritise all roles that are genuinely fillable.
  • Use every means possible to generate something, anything, even if it’s not deemed ‘your job’. Make yourself irreplaceable and a pillar of strength in your business.

And if you are trying all these things, be supportive of colleagues and friends. But most importantly, look after yourself and your family.

We are hugely resilient as the human species and we will get through this, let’s try and make it a little easier by getting through this together and come out of it stronger.


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