How has the COVID-19 pandemic Affected the Recruitment Market?

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected UK businesses in virtually every sector of the economy, forcing many to shut, downsize, reduce staff hours and furlough millions of employees. This has meant that the recruitment market was one of the main sectors that was impacted as the mass layoffs and the furlough scheme meant that there was no room for them to hire new employees.

The implementation of social distancing has made recruitment much more difficult. Face-to-face contact was virtually impossible due to government guidelines, as working remotely became the norm. Fewer candidates were available for the small number of roles that were on the market, due to having the virus or fear of getting it. The healthcare sector was the only industry looking to hire, but there were added challenges due to urgency.

Recruitment agencies have been most affected by the crisis due to having high operating costs and many revenue streams being shut down because affected industries were showing greater caution and were not looking to hire new personnel. It took a significant amount of time before companies started outsourcing their recruitment again, as there was uncertainty around how long the pandemic would last, meaning that companies could not recruit even if they wanted to.

Agencies have had to adapt to this by changing their strategy, as face-to-face is not possible at the moment, AI has become a necessity, rather than a luxury. AI, Machine Learning and Robotic Process Automation have been building a presence within the recruitment market in recent years. A 2018 LinkedIn survey reported that 35% of participating professionals, hiring managers and human resource personnel believe that AI is the most significant trend impacting how they hire. COVID-19 has meant that AI’s growing significance within the recruitment market has been accelerated, and is now a crucial part of the process going forward.

Virtual Recruitment has become the forefront of the recruitment market, as in our changing world, face-to-face meetings are less practical and many companies have embraced the virtual world and remote working. Meetings have moved online, and team and project tracking apps have become essential. The same strategies are being seen in recruitment, as 76% of UK companies have implemented virtual interviews and recruitment processes. For example, interviews are being conducted over video call programs and successful candidates are being asked to work remotely. Many of these processes were being used before the pandemic, but now they are much more widespread.

It is expected that adoption of virtual methods in recruitment will become standard practice at every stage of recruitment. Resourcing and screening candidates using AI is easier and less time consuming, as it automatically draws talent from multiple sources and narrows down the list to fit the criteria, ultimately meaning that better quality candidates are found and put forward for roles.

Only time will tell how the recruitment industry will fare after the pandemic. The market has already begun to pick up from the initial slump between April and August as companies have started to adjust to the new global climate. It’s also a fair assumption to say that it will be forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic as remote working could remain mainstream, meaning that the virtualisation of the recruitment process will likely remain, meaning that the use of AI and Machine Learning will also likely grow in importance and become a central part of the recruitment process.

COVID-19, Recruitment

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