By Nik Plevan
It could be argued that COVID-19 will have a greater effect on the economy and how we live and work than any previous disasters including both World Wars. Nature has dealt a blow that almost no manmade catastrophe could match; it crosses borders unseen and we still do not know its true source, and may never have a lasting remedy.
“We didn’t realise that there was an/off switch for the economy”
– Jim Hackett, CEO Ford Motor Co
On the back of this pandemic, the workplace has changed overnight and will never be quite the same again. The change has happened so quickly that businesses will not know the true consequences for years to come.
But, what will the new world job market look like, and who will be the winners and losers? Recovery is essential, but what will be the impact on companies looking to recruit? And will the pandemic make the job market look at the skills of our workers differently?
An Unemployment Tsunami
In the UK, news and statistics for employment are bleak with devastating impacts predicted and unemployment forecast to hit 15%. The knock-on effect will sweep through other sectors and affect supply chains, jobs, innovation and investment. The fall in hours worked in the final two weeks of March points to an economy that has lost a quarter of its capacity - and the picture since then has only got worse:
- Collapse looms for at least a tenth of retailers in lockdown
- About 500,000 businesses are at high risk of insolvency
- JCB has announced that up to 950 jobs are at risk at its UK plants after demand fell by 50%.
- British Airways plans to make 12,000 staff redundant
- Emirates has cancelled orders for 70 Airbus A350s
- Carluccio’s has been sold but, with only 31 outlets retained, 1,000 people have lost their jobs
- The coronavirus pandemic is expected to make thousands of restaurants, pubs, shopping chains and other high street hospitality businesses bankrupt
- Uber is slashing 3,000 jobs, and shuttering dozens of offices worldwide
- Rolls-Royce is shedding 20% of its workforce due to falling demand for its aero engines
The reduction in labour has happened so quickly that few, if any, businesses have been able to ensure that they have made the right decisions about how many of their staff to let go, or indeed who to let go.
Economic recovery is essential and it will happen. Multiple businesses, both essential and innovative, have responded to the new economy and workplace needs.
Businesses will continue to innovate with traditional and brand-new technologies: cleaning products, PPE, garden and DIY centres, bio and pharma, online shopping, room share technologies, virtual services, campervan sales and hire, and many others.
It is, however, inevitable that the number of job vacancies will fall for a considerable time - the question is, how far and for how long?
An Abundance of Talent?
At first glance, the increase in available skilled labour may seem to be the perfect situation for companies on the growth curve looking to recruit.
But is it?
Anyone who has recruited recently will know that advertising for almost any job often results in a deluge of totally unsuitable applications clogging up their email inbox.
Some job boards are more susceptible to this than others; one is particularly bad, as it allows applicants to select several vacancies and then apply for all of them with a single click! The result is that employers are often faced with dozens of applications and CVs to review, before realising that only a handful are from serious, committed and qualified candidates.
Of course, in a post-COVID19 world, this situation will only be exacerbated, with huge numbers of unemployed workers vying for a vastly reduced number of available vacancies. Desperate people will apply for virtually any role they think they might - just - be suitable for. Job seekers cannot be blamed for doing all they can to ensure their livelihood, but this will present a real challenge for employers.
Hard Skills vs Soft Skills
So, how will employers ensure they get the talent they need quickly, easily, ethically and without making costly recruitment mistakes?
CVs are often thought of as the recruitment “tool” of choice - every job seeker will have at least one CV to attach to their job application, and virtually all employers still ask applicants to provide one.
But, despite this, all the available evidence shows that simply using the information in a CV to select a short-list for an interview is no guarantee of identifying the best candidate.
In fact, it will probably do the exact opposite and result in wasted time interviewing unsuitable applicants, and that’s if they bother to turn up for the interview in the first place.
Before the pandemic hit, we were using psychometrics to help companies identify the soft skills required in the roles they were recruiting for, and then assessing those soft skills in applicants for their jobs.
This is done by a mixture of skills assessment tests, job knowledge tests, cognitive ability tests (that incorporate numerical and verbal reasoning) and personality tests. We use dedicated normative testing to smooth out the hiring process, making it easy for our clients to find the perfect candidate.
However, in a post-COVID19 world, where home working will certainly play at least some part, while many of those soft skills will remain the same, there will also be additional traits required solely to be able to deal with the demands of home working and the new uncertainties of life in general.
A change in requirements
The pandemic has called for our society to examine how we value certain traits. It's asked difficult questions of us, including what "essential" work actually means and which qualities are the most desirable in this inherently unstable world.
We recently conducted a survey among a wide variety of managers and professionals to find out what people thought would be the most important soft skills that home-workers will need in order to be high-performers in this new work environment.
The results, shown here, were not a surprise, but they do highlight the even greater importance that soft skills, rather than education, training and experience will play in a post-COVID19 world.
And, of course, you won’t ever find an objective assessment of a candidate’s soft skills on their CV so that, from an employer’s point of view, wading through dozens of CVs is probably going to be worse than a total waste of time.
That's why psychometric tests, which are specifically designed to evaluate these sought after skills, are more important than ever.
An innovative technological solution
In a post-COVID19 economy, employers in those sectors that are growing will need to rely on technology more than ever before. And we’re not just talking about traditional applicant tracking systems that are often no more than just an expensive database with a diary.
To find high performing employees, employers won’t just have to look for the right qualifications and experience, but candidates will also have to possess the required personality, values and competencies that the job, company culture, and work environment demand.
Employers will need systems that offer real time- saving features, such as automated short-listing of high-potential candidates, based on their personality, values and competencies, as well as automatic management of unqualified or unsuitable applicants.
And eTalent does just that ... and a lot more.
eTalent is a cloud-based application that manages the recruitment process from start to finish; from job board advertising, to on-line job application and psychometric assessment and interview, right up to job offer and onboarding.
- eTalent automatically posts your vacancies on all of the UK’s Major Job Boards
- Applicants are redirected to apply on your branded, dedicated eTalent Job Portal
- Applicants answer your customised screening questions, and those who do not
meet your minimum requirements are automatically marked for rejection
- Applicants take a targeted customised psychometric test which identifies your
specific critical personality characteristics
- Applicants take a DISC-based behavioural profile
- Optionally, applicants can record a 2-minute video to support their application
- Qualified applicants are shown in real time on your eTalent Control Panel, where
their results can be viewed and your short-list invited for interview
With eTalent, employers don’t have to look at a single CV before deciding on a short-list for interview. That’s because eTalent automatically screens out unqualified applicants, and then ranks the rest according to their suitability for the job as determined by their personality and soft skills.
For example, customer-facing staff need to be sociable and accommodating, whereas maintenance engineers should possess detail orientation and be able to follow a structured process.
In this way, in a post-COVID19 world, eTalent will automatically screen all job applicants for important job-specific personality traits, as well as for the “home-worker” traits identified by our survey. As well as saving you time and money and ensuring you recruit the best people.
And all of this for one low, flat fee, which includes advertising on all of the UK’s major job boards.
To find out more, please contact Nik Plevan, founder of eTalent on 0131 202 6885, or email him at [email protected]