Temporary staff recruiters size up ‘tough’ covid-19 jobs market

The great decline in freelance contracts which hit contractors between April and June this year due to covid-19 is apparently not troubling all temporary job candidates.

Posting to LinkedIn, the founder of a recruitment agency specialising in operations roles said two candidates who had already succeeded at securing work simply didn’t show up.

“Yesterday two candidates didn't arrive for day one of their new temp assignments despite texting my team to tell them they were en-route and had arrived.”

The agency bosses also said: “When there are so many people desperate for work right now, and the market is so tough, I just wish people didn't behave in this way.”

'Never seen so many out of work'

Another recruiter, specifically on the ‘executive and interim’ search side of the market, attested to the supply of candidates completely overwhelming the demand.

“If I told you that in my 30-year career in this industry as an executive recruiter, I have never seen as many senior professionals out of work than I have now, would that focus your mind?”

Taking aim at an optimistic-sounding jobs forecast, she added: “I'm not interested in peddling bad news, or making anyone feel worse than they currently do, but it is a truth.

“The market isn't 'picking up' yet, albeit there are odds and sods of jobs out there and while I too would love to believe that come September/October it will start to improve, I am increasingly inclined to start pushing that date back.”

'Many more jobs in my space these last two weeks'

The C-suite recruiter was speaking before data from a UK agency body showed demand for contractors, specifically those in IT, chalked up its largest gains in five months in July, although it stubbornly remains ‘in the red.’

A senior recruitment manager in the investment management sector this week said a corner looks like it had indeed been turned.

“The last two Fridays I have posted about being kind to ourselves during a job search and this 100% still stands”, he said, “but this week…I have been approached about or seen so many more jobs in my space. Fingers crossed this continues.”

'Too many of you asking me for help'

But in her posts, the C-suite recruiter suggested some candidates ought to take a back to basics approach. “Using a recruitment firm at the moment is the least successful -- and appears to be the most painful -- of the three routes to market available to you [candidates].”

“[And] I can't…do it in person, much as I would like to, [because] there are just too many of you [asking, but] next week I am going to write a document and call it, ‘How to get a job.’”

Some candidates do sound like they would welcome the pointers especially those who have been unsuccessful, amid a growing sense that it ought to be recruiters who provide the help.  

'We went another way'

“I've made it to final round interviews at two companies since I lost my job due to covid-19,” said a recruiter, trying to land a staffing job in the US.

“In both cases, I spent multiple hours on Zoom, crafted and delivered presentations, participated in role plays, and taught myself their software so I could evangelise it in my interviews.

“In both cases, I was informed via email that they would not be moving forward. No explanation, no feedback, just ‘we went another way.’

“Asking so much of a candidate in preparation of an interview, and then not even picking up the phone to deliver the news is lazy and disrespectful. As a candidate, it's painful under normal circumstances, but especially traumatising during COVID where we are all feeling insecure, panicked and anxious about our futures.”

'Show some empathy'

Addressing her fellow agents, albeit on behalf of candidates, the recruiter appealed: “If you're lucky enough to be one of the recruiters who didn't lose your job, show some empathy.

“Your candidates are going through a lot. Give them a call, thank them for their time, and give some actionable feedback or at least insight into why the decision was made.

"These are tough times and recruiters are in a unique position where they can simultaneously deliver bad news, while lifting someone up and helping them get better for the next time around.”

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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