12 months of lockdown: 7 ways COVID has changed the candidate market

Since COVID, the world has changed in unimaginable ways. And the recruitment industry is no different. With unemployment rates at a 4 year high and businesses adapting to the covid-induced turbulence, it’s hardly surprising candidates are reacting a little differently to job opportunities.

One year on since the start of lockdown, here are some of our observations from speaking to candidates over the past 12 months.

Job stability is a must

This might sound obvious, but job stability was more of an afterthought rather than a driving factor pre-COVID. With high levels of unemployment, it’s to be expected that candidates are looking for more reassurance surrounding job stability when looking at new opportunities. They now want to understand a company’s future before sending their CV off. They want to hear how business has been affected and what plans companies have in place to overcome the pandemic obstacles.

As a result, recruiters need to be much more switched on when it comes to their clients, really taking the time to understand the nitty gritty about how they’re pushing through the pandemic.

The bonding is real

A lot of candidates have developed a closer affinity with their employer throughout the pandemic, particularly among smaller businesses. SMEs have that family atmosphere, and have clubbed together to see the period through.

Candidates now feel a stronger sense of loyalty to employers and almost feel as though they’d be abandoning ship if they were to move roles.

Remote working is run-of-the-mill

Where remote working used to be a perk, candidates now view it as a given. So it’s no longer as powerful a selling point. In fact, if your clients aren’t offering remote working for the foreseeable, it’s a bit perplexing for candidates. Why would they consider working for a company that doesn’t offer remote working, when most other companies are?

As a result, us recruiters need to be having conversations with those clients about improving their remote working offering to help them remain competitive.

Greater expectations on mental health

COVID has forced employers to give a spotlight to mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. Several companies implemented new innovatives to support their employees during lockdown. So we’re now having more conversations with our candidates around mental health.

As a recruiter, you’ll do well to keep this on your radar as there are increasing numbers of candidates concerned with this.

Courting candidates


Hear us out on this one…

Unemployment levels might be high but not all talent pools are bursting at the seams. Because of the uncertainty, candidates are much more hesitant to make a career change. The candidate-recruiter partnership is taking a longer time to get fired up.

Think of it like the courting phase of a new relationship. Trust is an important part of the process, right? In the same way, recruiters need to take the time to build solid relationships with their candidates before taking things to the next level.

The rise of candidate communities

The way employers and recruiters treat candidate pipelines is evolving. Businesses are waking up to the benefits of nurturing candidates with 69% of employers engaging candidates through communities. And, as recruiters, we should be doing the same.

Candidates have typically been sidelined in the recruitment cycle. Therefore businesses creating a better experience for candidates from start to finish are creating a loyal following. That means valuing candidates long before there’s even an opportunity.

They want to feel part of something, they want to feel valued, and we’re still in the early phases of this developing trend.

Perm roles for the win

With the uncertainty around unemployment and new changes to IR35, candidates are showing a stronger interest in permanent roles. Instead of feeling like their contract could be cut short at any time, they’re seeking more stability and permanent roles seem to be the flavour of the year!

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