Unemployment, candidate experience and why Recruitment is our best chance of success.


In the last week, we’ve started to see the job losses ramp up, we all knew it was coming but kind of hoped that it wouldn’t. 10-12 thousand jobs lost in just a couple of days, great swathes of people simply taken out of the working economy. In the last few years, we’ve had it pretty good, and redundancies that were common place in previous recessions, had been a bit of a rarity in today’s time – other than the generally accepted fall of retail where every year or so it seemed another bastion of the high street came crashing down. Having been through a few recessions now, it is cyclical and each time we generally convince ourselves that redundancies are things that ‘used to happen’. Sadly not, and now they’re back with a vengeance. And this time it’s not just that old high street chain that is stuck in the dark ages. It’s everywhere. And it’s terrifying.

We’ve seen losses across the board of industries, it seems very few have been unaffected in one form or another.

Recruitment is our best chance of success

And with all this, I am convinced that recruitment remains one of the best ways for us all to find a way out of this and emerge a stronger and more successful economy.

I myself had to make some difficult decisions in the last week, we lost some good people from Wave, people I wanted to build a future around but in the end the numbers simply don’t add up. I know people who are making the redundancies and people who are on the end of them, both situations are horrible places to be. It’s not personal, yet it feels it.

So where are we going and what’s next? This isn’t a doom and gloom post – although I appreciate it’s started that way. Its more a practical view on what’s happening and what challenges the recruitment and talent world is likely to face next. More job losses are coming and unemployment is, I think, going to grow from 3.8% at the start of 2020 to somewhere around 15% if we follow the same lines of the last recession. We’ve already seen jobs available in the UK drop by nearly half, so suddenly the rhetoric of lack of talent and a shortage of candidates that we’ve been hearing and experiencing for the last few years has been turned on it’s head, almost overnight.

With 3 times as many people without jobs, a huge spike in the active job seekers available (follow #opentowork on LinkedIn to see in real time) and half the number of jobs available, there’s a real danger that this increased supply of ‘talent’ could well be treated as something of a commodity. Clunky ATS systems were built originally to handle volume response and take out some of the repetitiveness of the recruitment process, sadly in many instances it went too far and the process become cold and detached. As talent became harder to find that process changed, systems improved and we generally started to recruit in a human way.

Don’t screw up the candidate experience now!

It’s vitally important that keep the candidate experience in mind, lets not go back 10-15 years and run everything like some sort of sausage factory. Companies investing in their employer brand, their processes, their attraction and engagement strategies, need to keep that focus on delivering a quality experience to all their candidates. Don’t stop all that now, because you perceive it will be easy to recruit. Sure you may land a couple of hires more easily that before, but there is a real danger that if you take your foot off the gas now, you’ll end up rolling backwards, and when the talent dries up again – which it will within the next 18 -24 months, your brand will be in worse shape that before you started.

Also-rans, can become the market leaders

The positive news is, we’re at a bit of a level playing field right now so if you’ve not done this in the past you have an opportunity to now. If you’ve never been able to attract the gold star talent – now you have a chance to do so, and that for me is the most exciting part. If you get this right, you’ll make hires that will transform your business, drive you through this storm and bring you out the other side, stronger, fitter and ready to drive you forward. By staying committing to delivering a first class candidate experience you’re giving yourself the best chance of being a first class organisation when the economy picks back up. The businesses that do this will be the business that will emerge from the ashes of all this as the new market leaders.

That’s the opportunity that every business leader has right now. Invest in your people and the rest will follow.