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Over the last 12 months, we have seen recruitment do a full U-turn. At the start of the year, there were lots of vacancies and very few candidates. Candidates were “king”. They may have had several offers on the table to consider and companies were having to work hard to “woo” them. As we leave behind 2020 the market is flooded with candidates, some of them have been out of the workforce for the best part of a year as a result of the furlough scheme. Most of them are keen to secure a new position and have lots of skills and experience. They are now finding themselves in a busy marketplace where competition for each role is hard and companies suddenly have the pick of the best candidates. So, what does 2021 look like for a company looking to recruit? 
 
What do we think the top 5 trends are likely to be in 2021? 
You are probably planning for 2021 now. It is also a great time to start planning your recruitment for next year. If you haven’t ever done a workforce planning exercise for the year ahead, read on as to why you should and how to go about it. (and it’ll make your life a lot easier!) 
 
 
 
By looking at your workforce needs over the next 12 months, means that you can plan your recruitment in a more proactive, rather than a reactive way. If you know what your business plans are for the next twelve months then you can plan to recruit the right people to help you deliver your short and long-term organisational goals. 
 
So what 4 points should you consider? 
 
Start by assessing your current situation and reviewing your current workforce. Who do you currently have that aren’t quite at the level that you require them to be? Regularly, when working with clients, I hear managers talking about people who they know are looking for their next role, or are under internal performance measures. What is the likelihood that you are going to lose these people in the next 12 months? Put these expected vacancies into the plan. 
 
Up until March 2020 recruitment was taking place in a candidate-driven market, and this had been the way for at least 2 years. This meant that there were very few great candidates compared to the number of roles out there. Candidates were in the driving seat. A great candidate was in a position to be able to negotiate on salary, dictate when they were available for interview and keep employers waiting whilst they considered the best offer for them. 
Then COVID happened and other strange things started to happen to recruitment too. Firstly, potential candidates who were furloughed, or were no longer confident in the longer-term prospects of their company started to look for their next position. Secondly, huge numbers of vacancies were put on hold as employers started to try and guess their marketplaces and the long-term impact of COVID. Companies that were recruiting found that the numbers of applications started to increase rapidly. 
 
Finally, we have settled into a new norm (well for the time being at least!) where those companies that may have stalled for a while have pivoted within their market place and those that are growing need to fill their vacancies. However, the candidate pool is now huge and will continue to grow over 2021. 
 
So, what does this mean to you if you are recruiting? 
 
With the latest announcement from the government and stricter lockdown rules being put in place, for what looks like could be quite a long time, you may be thinking about putting your recruitment on hold, how can you possibly do a successful recruitment drive during a pandemic? Well we think you can and we also think we can help you do it well. 
 
After a slow and difficult year in recruitment, the pace has changed, it is now quick and rapid. There are lots of great candidates out there – if you are looking for a Business-Critical role look sooner rather than later, the candidates at the moment are proactive – not reactive. At Emerald Starfish we can help you push on with your recruitment needs, we have everything in place to help you fully recruit remotely without coming in to contact with anyone face to face, therefore keeping the risks to a minimum for all involved. Here is how we can do this, all the while ensuring the candidates are right for you and your company. 
 
 
When we set up Emerald Starfish over 10 years ago, we wanted to do recruitment differently. We loved recruitment and making a difference for our candidates as well as our clients. Getting candidates on the next step on their career ladder, an increased salary and a new opportunity to learn new skills. 
 
 
 
We felt that there was a mismatch though, working in a recruitment agency we were working for the candidates – trying to get them the best salary, selling them in against other candidates, but the client was paying the bill. 
 
At Emerald Starfish we wanted to bring the focus to the client – to understand what they need for their next position, and to make sure that all of their time wasn’t taken up testing and assessing candidates and paying us for the pleasure! 
 
 
 
 
Whilst there is a lot of turbulence in the current employment market – and over half of employees expect to be made redundant it is still a difficult message to deliver. How can you support your managers around delivering redundancy and restructuring news? 
 
 
 
Often the main concerns are not so much around the message itself but more the thought of delivering the news. Whilst the current climate means that most people are clear as to reasons why a company may be considering restructuring or redundancy they can still be emotive conversations that are open to misinterpretation or hostile feelings. 
 
 
What three things can you do to support your managers during this time? 
 
 
 
 
With many employees furloughed, and as the furlough scheme changes are you using this opportunity to right-size your company and consider redundancies? 
 
Rightsizing is a proactive activity and should be a constant part of managing an organisation. By adjusting an organisation like this can make it the most efficient, effective, competitive and profitable that it can be. 
 
20% of companies are planning redundancies this summer despite the furlough scheme and over half of employees are worried about losing their job. 
 
Three key questions to ask before you start assessing your workforce are: 
1. In what way post-pandemic will your customer needs have changed? 
2. What will success for your business look like going forward? 
3. What positives changes from remote/social distancing working can you introduce to the workplace following lockdown? 
 
Next, look at where you are now and what talent do you have within, what areas you may need to upskill or what new skills should you be looking to bring into the organisation. 
 
Look first to your business-critical positions which will help with the long-term success of the business. All the furloughed employees –can you manage without any of them? Identify your high potential employees – these are the ones who embrace and embody the culture of the organisation, can flex and adapt and perform at a high level in their current positions. 
As the old way of working has now gone and we are all trying to embrace the new norm companies are returning to the workplace with risk assessments in place, social distancing to be adhered to and decisions on how to bring staff safely back to work. What challenges will you face on bringing people back from furlough? 
1. Communication 
 
Make sure your communication is clear. Some people who were furloughed from the outset have been off work for 3 months and for them time in the work place has stood. They may expect to return to exactly the same way of working as pre-lockdown and will certainly not understand exactly how the business and your way of working may have changed. Take time to explain what “business as usual” now looks like the changes that have been implemented and why these changes have happened. A clear redefinition of their role responsibilities will also help them to understand “now” as well as focussing on health & safety and any new policies and procedures you may have introduced. 
 
It’s been an interesting few months in the world of recruitment. I wanted to share some of my thoughts and observations of this time – as well as some advice as to what you should be doing as an employer at the moment. 
 
 
When lockdown first happened all of our vacancies disappeared overnight. Clients that we were running active campaigns for as their outsourced recruitment department asked that we hang fire for a while…which we did. We had nothing. 
 
We spent six weeks looking at our marketing activity and posting regularly across social media. We are lucky as we knew that we could weather this storm so was able to look at offering rewrites of job descriptions for free and to train up the Emerald Starfish team for sunnier days. We looked at the new world of working remotely and realised that actually recruitment is mainly a remote activity anyway so we could embrace the processes that we had already got in place. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Job offers are usually made over the phone, candidates are used to receiving the news that they have been successful over the phone and managers are used to doing this not fact to face. However, during lockdown how can you ensure that the job offer is received with as much impact as if you had met the candidate and were building on that initial face to face interaction? 
 
 
Here are our 4 steps to making a job offer remotely 
 
1. Offer quickly 
 
Let the candidates know during the recruitment process when you will let them know and keep to the timelines. It is a big non-verbal clue that you think that they are the best person for the job and you are excited to have them on board if you offer within 24 hours. The message isn’t quite the same a week later! 
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