As social distancing restrictions are reduced, and industries across the UK and around the globe open up, there’s never been a better time to look for – and recruit – a new role. PwC reported in August 2021 that 65% of workers are currently looking for a new job amidst the more optimistic global outlook.
However, the coronavirus pandemic has created monumental changes to life and work. Starting in a new job and advancing to the next stage of a career path will be a very different experience to the pre-2020 world. Generate’s payroll and contractor management specialists reveal the three trends and changes that employers, jobseekers and recruiters can expect to see in the years ahead.
3 Ways the Recruitment Process Will Change After the Coronavirus Pandemic
1. Candidate-Led Market
Following the cost-cutting measures that saw businesses rely on redundancies and hiring freezes to sustain cash flow during Covid-19, organisations that effectively weathered the storm are recruiting like never before. In July 2021 the UK’s open job vacancies reached astronomical levels – the highest on record. Employers have missed out on over a year of planned expansion and productivity, and are eager to recruit as fast as possible to replace redundant staff members and kickstart recovery and growth plans.
The past decade of worsening skills shortages could pale in comparison to the next few years of talent deficits. The UK’s IT sector is suffering particularly: 75% of businesses are already lacking in the tech skills they need to grow, and only 10% of the tech workforce believe that Britain will have the developers, programmers and engineers needed to compete in the world’s digital landscape. The UK’s departure from the EU has further exacerbated shortages, with one in four employers having recently hired an EU citizen and many struggling to hold onto EU talent, as scores of European nationals continue to leave the UK following Brexit.
In a market driven by candidate preference, job seekers can afford to decline job offers and instead wait for the position or project that will provide the best opportunities for new experiences, skill development and network extension.
2. Growth in Contracting Appetite from Workers & Employers
Despite the impacts of IR35 and Covid-19, 70% of freelance and self-employed professionals want to keep working in contract positions until at least 2025. The UK and European economies will see a steady increase of demand for temporary, part-time and contract roles – increasing competition for contractors looking for their next assignment – due to a multitude of pandemic-driven factors:
- Financial Losses of 2020 – Over 60,000 freelance, interim and temporary professionals saw their contracts cancelled or delayed because of the pandemic. Those who find employment will take fewer and shorter breaks between assignments to recoup earnings and make up for the gap in growing their networks, reducing the volume of temporary work available. Individuals who actually prefer permanent employment have been taking up short-term roles out of financial necessity, and those in industries worst affected by Covid-19, such as hospitality and retail, may continue to rely on temporary positions.
- Work/Life Balance – Although the coronavirus pandemic saw monumental job losses and financial difficulties for millions, Covid-19 also acted as a positive catalyst for career change. Individuals across vocations were forced to pause and re-evaluate their career paths and what they really wanted from a job. After the introduction of mass remote working, nine in 10 people want to choose when and where they work, with contracting providing the perfect opportunity for flexible hours and greater professional autonomy.
- Altruism – The Clap for Carers campaign rightly saw caring professions thrust into the spotlight: now thousands are signing up to join the public sector in their droves. Areas currently experiencing severe skills shortages, which include nursing, teaching and IT, are also those populated with a large pool of existing contractors. Contract specialists will also increasingly need to compete with their permanent colleagues, as their long-term counterparts discover that they can significantly boost their take-home pay through temporary work.
3. Assessment & Hiring Process
The recruitment process itself has been forever changed by the pandemic. Video interviews will remain standard practice, with candidates only required to attend final-stage meetings to connect physically with their prospective teams. Virtual hiring techniques will provide more flexibility for jobseekers and will help recruiters increase efficiencies, reduce resource costs and assess higher volumes of applicants in shorter time periods, improving the recruiting and onboarding process for all involved.
Technology will continue to support recruiters and hiring managers throughout the process. Staffing agencies and HR departments will invest in onboarding platforms and introduce automation for candidate communication. AI will be seen by many as the answer to unbiased candidate screening, objectively focusing on skills and experience rather than the unconscious preferences of humans to hire others like themselves, providing the opportunity to make recruitment fairer, more diverse and more inclusive.
With technology continually introduced into every avenue of business, work and life, and the plethora of challenges faced by organisations in the coming decade, soft skills will be prioritised by employers and hiring managers. Soft skills have been endorsed as the future by Jack Ma, world-famous Chairman of global giant Alibaba: ‘We have to teach our kids something unique, so that a machine can never catch up with us: values, believing, independent thinking, teamwork, care for others – the soft skills to make sure humans are different from machines.’
Soft skills such as leadership, communication, negotiation and adaptability will be top of the list for businesses aiming to build back better, and will become an essential part of the candidate assessment process. Applicants will be asked more competency-based questions and will be tasked with creative activities based around generating ideas, solving problems and having difficult conversations. With much of this assessment taking place online, recruiters, hiring managers and candidates will all need to adapt to a very different recruitment process – but one which could ultimately deliver better matches for businesses and jobseekers.
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