Recent news headlines are an understandable cause for anxiety, for companies and employees alike. As the economy sheds 227,700 jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia’s unemployment rate jumped to 7.1% in May – the highest in nearly 20 years. 

While these figures spell an unfortunate reality for many, business leaders need to think beyond the here-and-now, and look for the opportunities this challenge presents from a recruitment perspective.

In the face of widespread job losses and downsizing across many industries, now is a great time to secure top job seekers that have been stood down or are looking to make a career change.

Why securing top talent is more critical than ever

The steps that hiring managers take today will be a key deciding factor in how companies fare in the post-COVID world.

In an analysis of 4,700 companies across the last three recessions, Harvard Business School researchers found that companies with a “progressive” focus came out in much better positions than they entered versus their more cautious counterparts. 

Companies that focused on selective cost-cutting while making strategic investments – rather than solely reducing headcount – were able to recover more quickly and even saw a positive contribution to their bottom line.

During the 2000 recession, for example, office supply company Staples closed down some of its underperforming stores but increased its workforce by 10%. By 2003, its sales had doubled to $14.6 billion.

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If past economic downturns can teach us anything, it’s that thinking long-term and hiring the right people ultimately pays off.

Seizing a golden recruitment opportunity

So, what can you do to capitalise on this unprecedented once-in-a-lifetime hiring opportunity? 

  • Check in with ‘the ones that got away’

Chances are you’ve crossed paths with ideal candidates in the past who, for one reason or another, did not end up coming on board to work with you. Make a list of these of these candidates and reach out to them. Their situation may well be very different than it was just a few months ago.

  • Assess your future needs

Although business may have slowed down in the short-term, consider your resourcing needs for the next six to 12 months and who you’ll need to hire to ensure long-term resiliency. This may be a case of refilling positions for employees who have been stood down, or creating new roles entirely.

  • Rethink the ‘ideal’ skillset

Given the state of flux we’re in, consider the skills and competencies that demonstrate a candidate’s resilience and ability to navigate uncertainty. For managers and leaders, the ability to inspire, motivate and influence will be key, while a willingness to learn, innovate and adapt to change will be invaluable for employees at all levels.

  • Lean on hiring expertise

Utilising the right recruitment taskforce is critical to selecting the best new hires, particularly if you’re hiring for newly created positions. Depending on resources, this may involve nominating separate committees for different business groups or sectors, or seeking external recruitment expertise with access to industry-specific networks.

If you have specific hiring requirements, reach out to one of our specialist recruitment consultants at Michael Page.

If you are looking for a job, visit the Candidates section

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