Key to keeping recruiters employed during a period where large swathes of our industry have employers not wanting to recruit is to look to and for ways in which your staff can be employed on productive tasks that will lead to future sales when the economy is switched back on.
Here are some ideas based upon my 27 years of working in the recruitment space as a trainee recruiter, recruiter, big biller, manager of recruiters, trainer of recruiters, past owner of a recruitment business and now the owner of a service business aimed at helping recruiters generate sales.
We are on a wartime footing:
Our government tells us we are on a war footing, and for recruiters, that should resonate for more reasons than you might think. During the past WW1/WW2, the proverbial butchers, bakers and candlestick makers were asked to become infantry, airmen/women, sailors, medics and supply-chain operatives, and their jobs were to be kept open for them on their return.
Some recruiters right now will have to take up offers from the likes of Tescos, and their industry peers, on their offer to become one of the 20,000 temporary workers they need to hire, to assist with the supply-chain task of stocking shelves and delivering food.
Will the wages for those jobs, match your recruiter’s OTEs and support the ways you have geared your personal finances to cover your mortgage/rent, car payments, service credit card fees, etc., etc.?
No. But they will give you some peace of mind you can be active and know you are contributing to the war effort by making self-isolation for the masses easier.
Friday 20th March 2020, the Government handed our industry, along with all others, the salary support for workers who are to be let go. The offer covers 80% of recruiters’ wages to a maximum of £2500 a month. The recruiters need to be furloughed to get access to those funds; those who are still employed under threat of being fired/made redundant, etc., will qualify for this support. More news is due on how the HMRC will give you access to that money. But it is expected to be ready in 6 weeks for the April pay run. But it is clear the money will be accessed by the HMRC, or a person they appoint. The Government link is below, and it answers all you need on what you can access.
A simple summary of what recruitment companies can do as at 21/03/2020:
- Get a VAT payment holiday
- Get holidays from other taxes
- Get support with employees’ wages. The employers have to go down the ‘furloughed workers” route, which means the person, instead of being made redundant or let go, is able to take a leave of absence. They will be paid during their leave of absence from a grant the company gets from the government. But be clear here: this does not mean you can send your recruiters home and have them paid by the government, because if they are a ‘furloughed worker” they can do no work for you at all. This may change, and it is not clear if they can top those wages up elsewhere and get the benefit. So it is a moving feast. This guy is very informative on the subject: https://www.wilson-partners.co.uk/blog/finance-strategy/huge-support-for-uk-plc-covid-19-what-action-should-you-take-now/
- Get support with loans. Small firms loans backed by the government, not your business, will be rated with a normal credit scoring by the lenders, so if that scoring is low, the government offer guaranteeing the loan will help you get the loans over the line in times you might otherwise not have. Your current bank will be your first port of call to apply for the loan, but there are 40 vendors approved in total to give these loans. You likely will be asked to give a director’s guarantee, subject to your companies credit score.
- Get direct access to the Bank of England via larger firms for loans.
The last thing to say on the war front is that the modern-day recruitment industry was born after the second world war and was pushed into existence by the government of the day to get UK PLC back to work. Recruitment was needed to assist with the mass recruitment tasks to get people back into work. We don’t know with our current COVID-19 war when it will end, as they did not in WW1/WW2, but when it does, recruiters will be asked to return to work and help the proverbial butchers, bakers and candlestick makers get back into their professions.
It is what it is – now how do we make that work?
In most recruitment companies, there is never time to do all that is needed. If we turn the obvious struggles of the COVID-19 war around and look for the benefits it has handed us, then time to do some spring cleaning in our companies would be one of them. Here are my top tips on how to use that spring-cleaning time.
Thirty-four years as a salesman have taught me that the best way to sell is to have a layered sales strategy. Mine were/are layered by time-based sales methods, organised into short-term strategies, defined as 30 days or less to get results, medium-term strategies, defined as 30-90 days to see results, and long-term plans, defined as 120 days plus to see the results of our efforts.
It is clear that for many our ability to make money as recruiters in 30-day cycles has been heavily disrupted, but that still leaves us medium and long strategies to exploit. Many of us will now have at least 12 weeks, maybe 24 to do this work.
1) Clean your candidate data. Check all records are accurate for contact info, up-to-date CVs, up-to-date skills, where a person is working, and if they, like you, have been redeployed, where they are serving during this COVID-19 war. In boom markets, I have seen multiple instances where re-working candidate databases has produced a 25% uplift in sales.
You will need pinpoint accuracy of your data to be at the front of the recovery and to earn money to pay off the debts you incurred. Think it can’t be done? Mercedes was bankrupted during WW2 – would you rather be Mercedes today or Rover?
2) Prepare your candidates for the upswing and build rapport with them now. Pick up the phone and talk to them, and tell them you are preparing like a BOSS to get ready for the boom in demand for their skills. Have them work on a pitch profile which will present their skills in the best possible light, and if they are doing alternative work to get by, advise them on what they can learn in this period that will help them and future employers going forward to see them as a great hire.
3) Learn your niche; if you were not sufficiently clear in your knowledge before, then learn in the conversation you can now have, free of the need to sell, sell, sell.
People like to talk about what they are good at, and their work is going to be one of those. This education will make you a better recruiter. When the boom comes, employers will be spammed with CVs by those recruiters who decided not to learn or brush up on their niche. So employers will be sent CVs of butchers, bakers and candlestick makers in their 100s – but you will have the baker who can get the stock piled up in the bakery back onto trucks and flowing while making a 25% saving on delivery routes because they optimised the food delivery route for Tesco’s during the Covid-19 war, a new skill they can now transfer.
5) Compare the CVs/candidate records you have and the places they have worked with your client database. When I have done this in the past with recruiters’ candidate data, I have seen recruiters with 30000 CVs and 3000 employers’ records grow their employer records by double. In the cut and thrust of booming markets, we never had this time before. Make use of it now.
6) Take this time to learn how to write better job specs; you have time to research and practise. Talk to people about how well they are written and what they really want to see in a job advert from you.
7) Take time to write blogs; now is your time tor practice this skill. You might be crap to start, but you were crap before as you had 5 min a day to perfect your art, now you have 50 mins.
8) Take time to produce vlogs; now is your time to practice this skill. I repeat. You might be crap to start, but you were crap before because you had 5 mins a day to perfect your art; now you have 50 mins.
9) Take more time to make a LinkedIn connection with decision-makers. This is your cold calling, but have value to share with the blogs, vlogs, etc., you will share.
10) Take more time to make a LinkedIn connection with candidates; some recruiters I am speaking to are turning their phones off, removing their phone numbers to avoid people and giving them the bad news. Go the other way: now is the time to connect, connect, connect.
11) Do what you can free of charge – like Tesco’s needs 20,000 people as of today to ramp up to support us for 90 days during this war with COVID-19. If you have job board credits you can’t get out of, use them to tell job seekers of these 20,000 jobs going at Tesco’s. Plus the others that will also come out of the wartime efforts of those industries which will be overwhelmed by the demand for their service.
12) Propaganda wins wars – light up your social media channels with good news, where to find good news and where the hope is. Ease off the emails with 10% off this service or buy one candidate get one free. You need to keep your email channel open and unblocked for when the boom comes, so send only strategic pin-point valuable info via this medium for the next 90-120 days.
13) I’ll stop at the baker’s dozen for tips, which is to say loose lips sink ships. If you don’t have confidence in you, nor will anyone else. Now is the time to back yourself.
Here are some kind souls who took up the offer to expand this page with more advice and tips.
Ideas from Scott Revell, our newest recruit
1) Start talking to GCSE, A-Level and University students to steady their nerves, so that you will have an answer for the generation who got their predicted grades when they enter the workforce and the scepticism we may face.
2) Learn how to podcast. My generation is a multi-tasking generation, and we can listen to you while we work.
3) Brush up on your website content. I am reviewing all our clients and helping to fix some legacy content issues. So check yours.
4) I am likely to measure you most as a human by how you calm my concerns, not add fuel to disinformation. Take time to debrief your children, as my mum & dad do with me each day/week of this crisis on what they may have picked up that could cause concerns for them. Even grumpy hormonal teenagers like me will listen!
Ideas from Robert Woodford | https://www.linkedin.com/in/robertwoodford/
1) Sort your LinkedIn profile out.
2) Learn how to write great job copy.
3) Keep talking to people on a human level, not just reaching out for jobs, and understand them a bit more.
4) Become a TikTok influencer*.
Ideas from Hannah Keep | https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannahkeep/
1) Change their approach to every single conversation they have based on NOW. I am currently recreating every single piece of content because today is different and from that creates opportunity. I think it is easy to stand out now.
2) Have a battle mindset – if you don’t have that, then you are doomed. We go into every day ready for battle and wanting to make it a great day no matter the outcome. We can only control what we do on a daily basis – things are changing too fast.
3) Which should have been first – nurture, nurture, nurture every single relationship you have ever had, ever. But by asking how you can help (not asking for jobs, etc.)
If a one CSE Grade 1 to his name/Fat bloke/with Dyslexia/Google Hangout/curious desire to write War and Peace on how recruiters CAN do this can sell two recruitment websites this week…
Then it will be a walk in the park for you too. Provided that on that walk, you keep the recommended distance from other humans and wash your hands when you get home.
Respect to you, recruiters, you are going to be legends. It might not feel like it right now, but WW2 tells us your country will need you.
Diversity Statement: This copy was written by Darren, our founder, who is severely dyslexic. He was assisted by Word & Grammarly, and if they did not catch it, then Darren had no chance ;). If you are still bothered by this, then your prejudice rules you out as being the kind of client we want.