2020 was a weird roller-coaster ride and a half, and has not exactly been kind to us all - both in a personal and professional way. As an owner of a business and CEO, 2020 was a very hard pill to swallow.
When the COVD-19 pandemic hit the UK, we lost a good chunk of our clients as well as active jobs. Our specialised markets in Singapore and the US were hit hard, but thankfully it was not as bad as I thought it would be (in hindsight). Organisations immediately froze their hiring cycles due to the cash flow crunch, causing some major problems for candidates who had already handed in their notices and were ready to start their new roles when their positions were pulled.
Many of our good friends were left in the lurch, not knowing what to do or expect while in limbo. Job openings were scarce and companies’ cash flow were tight (if not non-existent), resulting in more developers than there were jobs. Fortunately, some found temporary placements as we all rode the relentless waves of COVID, though not many were that lucky. As an experienced headhunter in the recruitment business, nothing pains me more than not being able to help others land the jobs they are deserving of.
From a business perspective, 2020 was a rough ride for us. Fortunately, we were able to build a steady stream of clients, predominantly in the Health-Tech and Ed-Tech sectors. Two industries that were forced to scale up their digital presence due to the pandemic. Thankfully, we were still able to place developers and maintain our finances to keep our heads above water.
When COVID-19 was rearing its ugly head in full force here in the UK, I kept reassuring myself and my team that “it would be over in three months” and it “won’t be long until this blows over”. Boy was I so wrong about that. Looking back, it could have gone badly wrong if I wasn’t careful about my words - I could have unintentionally demotivated the entire team when I was actually meaning good.
When you’re managing a team and you sincerely want the best for them, it’s pretty much a sucker-punch to the guts when there are forces that are way out of your control blocking their success. Furthermore from a financial stance, I could have furloughed (In the UK, you can temporarily put staff on ‘paid leave’ for six months, and the government can help pay for 80% of their salary if there is no work available) the team in order to save costs. However as two of my staff have young children, I knew they wouldn’t be able to survive on the furlough payments alone. Hence, I decided to face the problem head on. Like Icarus flew too closely to the sun, we did feel a bit of a pinch. But as 2021 began, we’ve taken off on a strong foot and are flying once again.
As they say: New Year, New Beginnings. It looks like many organisations are making up for lost time and are starting to aggressively hire. Thus, developers now have the chance to look for new placements and get a new lease on their careers.
On reflection, 2020 hasn’t been a smooth wave to ride (surfer pun intended), but I can’t help but notice that the recruitment industry has had to adapt to the unexpected changes in order to survive. As we move into an era where what we knew as ‘normal’ isn’t ‘normal’ anymore, the recruitment industry must be better prepared for similar curveballs in the future.
The job hunting tides are turning and we as part of the recruitment industry needs to change along with it. The real question is, are we ready for the change?