The effects of quarantine are kicking in, and recruitment during COVID-19 is not the same as before.
Europe has gradually closed down and all of the countries represented in the MeetFrank job market. People are experiencing restrictions of movement and physical interaction at workspaces. And companies have thus found themselves in an unprecedented situation.
As global markets panicked and economic activity stopped in many sectors, the hiring slowed down in many companies. The recruitment sector, in general, seems to be in trouble as the recruitment giant ZipRecruiter has laid off roughly 40% of its staff.
Candor’s live feed on companies that are hiring, freezing hiring or laying off workers. – Source
Candor has released an extensive overview of over 1700 businesses, with 60% reporting hiring freezes. It is also clear from it that software development companies, although strongly affected, seem to be in the best spot when it comes to the hiring-layoffs ratio. Some will perish, some will come out of this even stronger.
But statistics aside, the crisis is most immediately felt by those who work with people and this is where HR managers and recruiters come into play.
As physical interaction has fast become a total non grata, companies that already have or can switch to remote work with minimal effort will have a clear advantage.
How is the current situation affecting recruiting efforts though?
We’ve spoken with recruiters working for some established tech companies – Bolt, Veriff, Supermetrics – about their practices of handling the crisis and steps to mitigate the short-term effects and mid-term effects of a social lockdown and economic uncertainty.
We hope that sharing their insight and MeetFrank data will help you navigate the tough times ahead.
Companies are hiring less, but more for remote work
As anticipated, the global crisis has started to have an effect on the job market as well.
At MeetFrank, there has been a considerable drop in job offers, with a 13% fall taking place in March, compared to the steady growth that was happening the same time last year.
The number of job applications saw a drop throughout in February and the first half of March, when the pandemic had already conquered headlines globally and the uncertainty regarding the economy started kicking in.
According to Bolt’s recruiter Anna Golubchenko, this outcome is actually natural as people are cautious about job change especially in times of changes.
She added that ‘depending on how long the outbreak will last and its impact on businesses in the long term, we can expect more applications once the companies start to react and optimize their workforce according to the new demand and market conditions.’
This seems to be in process already as there has already been a steep rise in the number of applications to the jobs in the MeetFrank app that begun on the second week of March.
Remote job offers get much more applications
In times of quarantine, remote work has always been a societal necessity. The tradition goes far back as even Isaac Newton worked remotely for his studies during the plague, which paved the way to some of his greatest ideas.
According to MeetFrank’s data, the number of remote work offers has nearly doubled compared to the situation in January.
The rise in the number of remote work applications is even more drastic – a 105% rise in the third week of March, compared to the same period in February and a staggering 135% rise compared to January.
At MeeFrank, we’ve reacted accordingly by launching a new remote work-only section in the app helping companies to make the transformation to remote work. You can also read our blog article about the benefits (and dangers) that remote work offers for companies and workers.
Want to see the remote offers that companies are hiring for? Check out this article with more than 90 remote job offers.
How are recruiters experiencing the effects of the pandemic? For what roles are companies still hiring?
During a pandemic, avoiding physical contact (and washing hands) has become the utmost act of responsibility and this forces companies to make fundamental changes to their processes.
Recruitment is naturally one of the activities where a face-to-face meeting has always been a norm – well, not anymore!
Finnish marketing software developer Supermetrics recruiters Marika Salkola and Viivi Marttinen said they are still recruiting to all our open positions, but the biggest problem lies with deciding on starting dates, especially for candidates outside of Finland as the country is about to close entry for all foreigners.
“The biggest change for us has been shifting our whole recruitment process fully online, with all interviews happening through video. We believe this will be the way we’ll continue for the time being. Naturally, we will also have to plan a great online onboarding process for our new employees, which is totally new for us,” commented Salkola.
She predicts that the company might have to slow down recruitment in some teams, but currently, recruitment is moving forward unaffected. Supermetrics is currently hiring software engineers, sales executives, a performance marketing manager, a CMO, and other roles..
Supermetrics workers must be feeling sorrow for not being able to work from their awesome-looking Helsinki office – Source
According to Kristiine Kukk at Estonia’s identity verification software developer Veriff, they have already found a new satisfactory way to continue hiring in the time where everybody is working remotely.
Using some outside help, they have prepared a remote onboarding process that helps to bring people over smoothly into a team that is working 100% remotely. “All in all, we are continuing the same as we did before,” Kuke said.
Veriff continues to hire for all the same roles – we are looking for technical professionals – for example, front-end engineers – and other skilled professionals like legal counsel and sales professionals.
How are the job applicants reacting to the crisis?
Fears of a viral pandemic mixed with the fear of losing your work and thus, income – the workers have a two-sided sense of fear on their minds at the moment.
Recruiters have felt the sense of unease emerging and Bolt’s Anna Golubchenko has offered a viable scenario for the course of events: “People are cautious about job change overall and in times of changes, such tendency grows. Depending on how the outbreak lasts and its impact on businesses in the long term, we can expect more applications, once the companies start to react and optimize their workforce according to the new demand and market conditions.“
She also predicts that “international applications will probably recede for a while, as most countries have closed their borders and flights have been canceled, so moving abroad is physically hard and people are not willing to take a double risk of a new job and the new country at an uncertain time.
Many people are also using the slowdown to take some time off and work on the projects they’ve been postponing for months.
Some people rediscover the projects they didn’t have time for before
In Finland, for Supermetrics the major changes haven’t kicked in yet. “Everyone has shown a lot of understanding towards the current situation and understands the process might be a little slower or the starting date might have to be a little further into the future than normal,” commented Marika Salkola.
In Estonia, Veriff has started moving candidates into video interviews instead of inviting them to their office already a few days before the emergency was declared. According to Kristiine Kukk the feedback from candidates was not positive at first as they felt like the company is overreacting.
The situation changed immediately after the state of emergency was declared: “Everyone has been very understanding. Usually, during the first 5 minutes of interviews, we discuss the situation of the country they’re currently at, how they are feeling about working from home. You can feel the people taking the very humane approach and come together with finding solutions!” she added.
How to get through the crisis as a recruiter and prepare for recovery?
“Keep calm and carry on!” doesn’t seem to suffice in these times (did it ever?). The crisis demands for swift action from the head of HR, who might even be the person to tell the CEO’s how to act in this situation while recruiting decisions and communicating those decisions, is more vital than ever.
According to Kristiine, Anna, Marika and Viivi the key aspects of overcoming the crisis are:
Anna Golubchenko, Bolt: “No matter what your strategy is – whether you continue to hire or pause hiring, communicate your next steps clearly to your active candidates.
Bi-weekly updates for everyone who are on hold will be a nice touch even if you actually do not have any news. Embrace yourself for a few nasty Glassdoor reviews and think about a long-term strategy for recovering: where to source? Which tools to use? Where to post? Maybe add additional benefits like working from home, childcare or health insurance that have proven to be in demand during the quarantine”.
Marika Salkola, Viivi Marttinen, Supermetrics: “Show empathy. Even healthy people might have anxiety or stress about this situation, which is unlike anything most of us have had to go through before.
Remembering that your own company consists of people and those people might feel the effects of the covid-19 pandemic in different ways. Support and show understanding, now if ever it’s important for all of us to be there for each other.”
🤜💥🤛 Supporting your company
Kristiine Kukk, Veriff: “I think the key here is that recruitment is here to support the business. The key here is to take the humane approach, be understanding and solutions-oriented.
There are recruitment communities like Recruitment Thursday and Facebook group “Straight outta candidates” where people have come together and try to find solutions to the day to day challenges. Some companies are very heavily affected by the current situation and we already have some recruiters who are cooperating with each other to find a new job or a short term challenge.”
Marika Salkola, Viivi Marttinen, Supermetrics: “Try to adapt your recruitments to the current situation by running the processes online. If your employer is pausing ongoing recruitments, then now is the perfect time to take a step back and think about how to improve your processes, rethink the hiring needs and schedule for the rest of the year in the ideal situation and worst-case scenario or to brainstorm for new recruitment marketing materials!”
Smells like Team Spirit: Supermetrics holds regular web meetings and socialising events to keep the spirit high
Other great ideas that Supermetrics launched were introducing daily remote hangouts and encouraged their team to continue our social events online, offering child care benefit for employees with small children, introducing more flexible with the working hours – people can now you work whenever they are able to; communicating actively about how the company is doing financially to alleviate stress people might feel.
What lies ahead in the upcoming months?
Anna Golubchenko (Bolt) is confident that there will be a change in the job market that is in favor of companies. “Some businesses will be severely affected and have to lay off people or offer unpaid leaves. In the first case, that means the number of applicants will grow naturally and as the demand for jobs grows, there will be a slight drop in salaries.” As we noted before, this already seems to have started according to MeetFrank data.
Anna went on to theorise that unpaid vacations will allow people to pick up short-term gigs and freelance projects varying from couriers, drivers, retail workers, and customer support as well as software development, marketing, and design.
Experiencing a decline in ride-hailing Bolt itself has actually already changed a lot in their operations, putting several functions on hold, while also adding new services and products like food and groceries and even a bookstore to their list of companies available at Bolt Food. According to Anna Golubchenko there will be more important functions added, as the countries go deeper into lockdown.
Puänt Books is one of the new stores available at Bolt Food now. – Source
Kristiina Kukk (Veriff) states that everything depends on the state of emergency and whether it is possible to relocate candidates. They are considering hiring relocating candidates first as remote workers and moving them to Estonia as soon as the situation allows it. “As Veriff’s business grows, recruitment will go on as well. Hopefully, in the next two months, the situation will calm more as well.”
To help job-seekers around the globe, we have launched the Remote Work Feed in our app. All new companies hiring with MeetFrank will have a free trial and we will extend it throughout the crisis. Help the community by adding all your remote job offers to the MeetFrank app. Get started.