Thoughts From A Recruiter During COVID-19

Team JBC

May 11, 2020


We’re going to go out on a whim and say that we don’t believe there’s a way to adequately discuss in full, the topic of COVID-19. Our hearts go out to all of those who have been negatively impacted. In many ways, we all have been affected and arguably changed forever, but it would be naïve to think we’ve all been impacted on the same scale. For the purposes of this post, we’re focusing on ways that we know how to additionally support others, within the workforce.

A mere 8-10 weeks ago (which now feels like a lifetime), our teams were brainstorming how to effectively and safely navigate candidates going in and out of our client’s offices for interviews, and now, we’re wondering when everyone will be able to return.

The copiousness number of layoffs, furloughs and vast unemployment over the past month hits close to home. So many former candidates and colleagues, current clients and peers alike are facing an abundance of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear; it feels incomprehensible. At the risk of sounding cliché, if you have found yourself in this position, you are not alone. We’ve had hundreds of conversations with candidates who have lost their job, clients wondering how they are going to meet their next payroll and executives who have prided themselves on the positive office culture they’ve spent years building, only to wake up to a world where the only human interaction you have is on ZOOM.

Contrarily and on a brighter note, we’ve spoken to people from businesses that thriving due to being considered essential and/or supporting the “at-home” lifestyles we are currently living.

The internal optimist in me has asked a variation of this one question in every conversation. How do we take this time and make it transformative? Opportunistic?

To perspective job seekers, do not set yourself up for disappointment as this is a marathon, not a sprint. The world is not going to come back to “normal” overnight – but there are plenty of things you can do in the interim.

  • HAVE CONVERSATIONS. This may seem ironic during a time where we are told that our ability to “social distance” is one of our greatest solutions to the world’s greatest problems. Speak to anyone who is willing to talk to you. Capitalize on the fact that people are home – they are not being pulled into redundant meetings to talk about their next meeting, they are not talking to Sally at the water cooler and they are not commuting. Not to mention in times of crisis, humans are often their most compassionate. Network with everyone and anyone. Find a recruiter that you trust and believe has your best interest, talk to your former colleagues, LinkedIn message Heads of Human Resources or Hiring Managers in your perspective field. Keep in touch with people, follow up with them. They may be the person to give you your next big break.
  • In this new digitally reliant world, update your personal branding: Spruce up your LinkedIn profile. Add a current picture, add relevant buzz words, list out tangible accomplishments, and please make sure there are no typos! While you are at it, “2020-ify” your resume. Chances are if you have been lucky enough to have been employed for a long time, then your resume is outdated. Make it clean, modern and remember that the person reviewing it may only be looking for a few seconds.
  • Think about the industries that are thriving right now and be tactical. Perhaps you are a designer, and you can sell masks. A retail professional, and can do temporary customer service work for a remote call center. A digital marketer, and you can reach out to a small direct to consumer brand and help them set up Facebook ads.

And remember, not all businesses are dead. In fact, some are doing better than ever. Think about how you can become a part of that.

To companies, clients, executives, and hiring managers: While every decision you now make may not be followed by “Is this pandemic proof?”, many of my clients have started thinking progressively to determine who and where they want to be on the other side of this.

  • Start pipelining talent. This may seem counterproductive for some, especially those who have had to, unfortunately, lay off integral team members. However, there is no harm in having meaningful conversations with prospective talent that may make sense for your organization when you are up and running again. Be forthcoming, let them know you are only thinking about the future, but have these conversations now to avoid losing them to your competitors later.
  • Instill a positive, virtual work culture. Have ZOOM “happy hours,” ask your team how they are doing, empathize with your employees who are parents, schedule virtual touch bases. Do not live under the assumption that your employees are merely grateful to be employed. While they may not leave you right now, they will the minute the job market picks up.
  • Look at your business as an ecosystem. Do you have a thriving direct to consumer business? How has your supply chain proven to be during a time of limited resources? What about your finance and operations? Your information and infrastructure? We assume for most businesses this time particularly has glaringly showed you that one cannot successfully exist without the others. Use this time of “pause” to seek clarity and find your pain point. Then, figure out if you can allocate current resources to supplement those areas or if you need to prepare to prioritize new talent when this is over.

This may be unchartered territory for everyone but having the privilege of being connected to so many intelligent people in the broad consumer world has taught us a thing or two! To continue the conversation or if you need anything, we invite you to connect with us!

Stay safe, stay healthy, and know that JBC is here for you!