How working life during the Covid-19 pandemic has changed…

It’s hard to fathom that just over a year ago, we were oblivious; skipping trough life. Not a single cloud on the horizon. Business confidence was high, candidates buoyant.

In marched a pesky virus and everything we thought was hard and fast changed. Including our jobs and the job market. Just like that. BOOM!

12 months on and we’re all a bit battle weary.

BUT don’t fret!

We may not have all the answers (who does?), but we’re absolutely ready to share our experience and insight to help you get ready to tackle working life and recruitment during the Covid-19 era and beyond. I mean, being prepared is half the battle won, right?

The job market during Covid is a-changing

Hospitality, Tourism and the Events industry have been bludgeoned. Aviation workers were spat out onto the job market en masse. We all braced ourselves for a massive economic downturn of apocalyptic proportions.

Business support roles took a beating during lockdown 1.0. So did our very own recruitment industry.

But -surprise, surprise- some industry sectors (including ours) bounced back relatively quick. For other areas, the struggle continues. All the while, skills like Digital Marketing, Sales and IT are collectively hungered after like gold-dust.

To many businesses and employees alike, the contractor market became attractive when nobody has the faintest idea if tomorrow will throw us another lockdown. It allows us all to roll with the punches. IT roles, accounts payable and payroll are only some job areas that are happily being contracted out.

On top of all that, there is the elephant in the room: remote work. Appealing to some, dreaded by others, it’ll be interesting to see if the change will be permanent in the longer term.

The key take-away from twelve plus months of COVID-19?

Boom industries have changed, the way we work has changed, in demand skills have changed. People have changed. With mindsets shifting, the once were tried and tested traditional approaches of working life now frustratingly fall short.

So where do we go from here with recruitment in 2021?

Working Life during the Covid-19 pandemic: Priorities have changed

Lockdown 1.0 was a time of reflection.

Life slowed down… a lot. Suddenly, people had time to bake banana bread. We embarked on crafts projects with the kids. Board games were pulled out. Teddy bear walks brought smiles to our faces. The broccoli in the new garden beds gave birth to a strange feeling of success.

As a result, many started questioning previously rock-solid plans and career strategies. What was once unthinkable turned out not that far-fetched after all.

Is a short commute still a priority in my life, or would I rather live in the regions and work from home? I mean… we’ve just proven that it can be done with a bit of good will, right? On top of the increased quality of life, it would also provide an escape route out of the mindboggling Auckland house prices. Just saying.

For some, it highlighted a desire for a hybrid working model. A sick child? No issues. I’ll work from home today.

But it doesn’t stop with a fresh look at working from home conundrum.

A spate of redundancies and reorganisations revealed that permanent jobs may not to be as secure as previously deemed. Quite the reverse, flexibility and agility proved to be an advantage for both the employer as the employee in certain situations. For the employer, it allows to adjust to fluctuating demands. The employee may have come to the insight that it may be safer to lay your eggs in a few baskets rather than one.

Recruitment during a pandemic: The Reluctant Job Applicant

With last year’s job market as topsy-turvy as it is, people who previously felt very snug in their jobs, became jobless. Overnight the market was flooded with talent. Competition boomed.

And then there is the ‘Brain Gain’ we’ve been hearing about. New Zealand became a very attractive place to be for overseas kiwis. Some impressive CV’s are claiming their rightful return ticket. At this stage it’s not quite clear yet, what the outcome -if any- is going to be.

But all of it makes people hesitant to leave a secure job.

As an employer who has a job vacancy that needs filling, the question is: how do you entice talented people to take the jump when reluctance is high?

How to recruit hero-employees in today’s world

Businesses win because of their people.

I’ll say it again: Businesses win because of their PEOPLE.

So when these same people challenge the status quo, your approach to the recruitment during a pandemic has no option but to follow suit.

This year smoked out some already present trends in what people value in a ‘good job’.

  • We have already mentioned the heightened craving for flexibility. We all learned different people need different things to thrive. Collectively, we also found out that there is life worth pursuing beyond the job. And we absolutely are striving for balance.

  • There’s also the emphasis candidates are placing on ‘Company Culture’, now more than ever. Stories of business conveniently using the COVID excuse to bully staff into forced leave (while bagging the government subsidy) or worse, dump staff in favour of company profit. It’s been noted who is looking out for their staff and who isn’t. People have been saying it everywhere: this is when companies are showing their true colours. On the back of it, you can expect a job applicant to do a background check on your business just as much as you do their background screening.

  • You can count on employees to also look at how well the onboarding process is planned and what the long-term opportunity for training and advancement look like.

  • Last but not least, consider how you conduct the hiring process. Ultimately, it is a first introduction of a potential employee to your business. How well or how poor it’s done can make or break the hiring deal. In a job market where certain skills are in short supply on one end of the spectrum or where you may be swamped with 500 CV’s at the other, it can be a pivotal mistake to involve the wrong hiring manager. Never before has the quality of a recruiter been more crucial!

Finding a Job in 2021 : Remote Interview Challenges

In Aotearoa, we may be avoiding the challenges of lockdown at the moment, but there are still plenty of situations where a job interview can’t happen in real-life. It’s Zoom to the rescue… again.

Most of us have (hopefully) learned to navigate the Zoom meeting without being interrupted by a bunch of shouting kids and an oblivious semi-dressed spouse. But with a remote job interview, it’s time to step up your game.

  • Make sure you have the basics right: a reliable internet connection, a tidy shirt, a presentable background, the dog locked away in the kitchen. You know the drill.
  • Make an extra effort to come across as perky and enthusiast. Even if it’s 11pm in your time-zone.
  • Do the homework and ask some smart questions. Probe the things you can’t check because you’re not there in person.
  • Now’s also the time to investigate how the business approaches lockdown, their stand in working from home, etc. A question about the learnings from this years’ COVID-19 adventure might give you some excellent insights.
  • Above all, look your interviewer/interviewee in the eye.

What about the next few months and beyond?

It’s been a year.

As we eagerly left 2020 behind and are now moving into the second quarter of 2021, we can’t help but wonder what the future will bring? It would be nice if we could deliver the answer to that. Slowly but steadily, the mist of recruitment in the Covid-19 era will start to lift. Every new day is a step closer to the end of this ‘global Aaaargh!’. After that… who knows!

But what we have learned is that us Kiwi’s put up a mean fight. We may be battle weary, very much like the rest of the world. But I firmly believe that out of difficulties grow miracles. At Konnect Koncepts we’re ready to play our part when it comes to assisting businesses to get back on their feet!