Recruitment during the lockdown

Some insights from our clients who have recruited successfully during the past few weeks

Jan 4, 2021
Jun 2, 2020

"LOCKDOWN TO LATCHDOWN"

How have employers across Yorkshire recruited finance professionals during lockdown?

In the first of our four articles on how the recruitment market has fared during lockdown, we are looking at how our clients have recruited, sharing some specific experiences and a few messages from our network of clients and candidates.The first point we need to make is that there have been some very successful financial recruitment exercises started and completed across Yorkshire during lockdown (a fact that has surprised a good few people we have spoken to recently) We have worked with clients across a range of sectors (including rail, manufacturing, healthcare, engineering and utilities), all different sizes and structures (from plc, private equity to OMB) and from transactional level to Finance Director. Although a significant number of recruitment campaigns were put on hold in March, there have been some sectors that have faced increased demands, some business-critical roles filled and still some normal churn in the market. The past two weeks have seen a good few of these paused campaigns resume too.The size & quality of the candidate pool remain similar to the status at the start of the year. Some candidates have decided to “sit tight” and not move jobs, but there is an increase in the number of candidates who are looking for a new job due to “push-factors” such as instability of where they are and some diminished bonus/promotional opportunities. There has been enough strength in candidate numbers to fill almost all of our campaigns to date. Some figures from two of our successful campaigns in recent weeks will challenge any nervousness to start recruiting due to a reduced supply of candidates;

  • Finance Director – 111 candidates
  • Finance Manager – 54 candidates

A lack of previous experience of using video technology and some apprehension about attracting candidates during a crisis have been common issues at the outset of a number of campaigns. Here are some thoughts from three of our clients who have overcome these issues:

We worked with Laura Ibbotson, UK HR Manager at Heras in Doncaster to recruit a UK Finance Director, with the entire process managed remotely:

“Recruiting over the phone and through various FaceTime methods has proved unusual but not ineffective. Technology for a long time has given us the opportunity to communicate remotely. However, for one reason or another globally we have resisted.Covid-19 has pushed most countries to communicate in a way we were nervous to do so and it has proved it can equally be as successful, I believe human nature will always lean our preference towards face to face contact, but Covid-19 has proved the world doesn’t need to stop turning. We may have adjusted the methods in which we recruit, but as long as your values are the same, anything is possible. We have successfully recruited our first senior role all from our homes, which I can say in 18 years of working in HR I had never done before. One of the most positive reflections on the process is that it allowed our head office in the Netherlands to work closely with our team in Doncaster and successfully recruit a candidate who is currently based in North America – a positive result.”

Having placed Naveed Hussain as Finance Director at Ancala Water in January, we were working with him to recruit both an interim Financial Controller level candidate and a permanent Finance Business Partner;

Ancala operates in a sector that has seen very little impact in the demand for our services. With only a few weeks in the business myself, it was critical for me to secure some extra strength to the team as we entered the UK lockdown period.Everyone was working in unprecedented times and it did cross my mind that there would be challenges attracting candidates, assessing them and onboarding them. But with the support from Nik and his team I was able to fill the gaps in a very short timeframe.Joe Ingham and Nicola Worrow understood my requirements well to provide a good shortlist of candidates that matched the criteria alongside their useful insights. This helped enormously to speed up the process and fill the interim role within couple of weeks. Recruitment for the permanent Finance Business Partner role has gone as well with a similar process (with second interviews are arranged this week after a brief pause due to Covid-19)For any other Finance Director planning on recruiting during lockdown, I would say that the key message is setting out and making clear your expectations (skill sets, personality, package etc) on the type of candidate required. Secondly, during Covid-19 have a good plan for onboarding remotely including any handovers.

We worked with David Linsley, Finance Director at Legend Club Management in York to recruit an Interim Management Accountant;

“Needing to recruit a maternity cover management accountant in good time for a thorough handover, we took the approach of advertising the role on our website, LinkedIn and the free recruitment sites first. Unfortunately this approach resulted in mainly inappropriate and under-qualified applicants. We quickly turned to a trusted recruiter in Gillian at Pratap Partnership, with a long running understanding of the local market. Over a short space of time we had a good selection of suitable candidates. Having adapted to homeworking and distance communications, the recruitment process followed a similar route and was conducted via video conference. Being comfortable with the use of VC, the interview process proved no less effective as a normal face-to-face interview. I think that this is going to become more important in the coming months and years as the use of technology to home work and communicate becomes more engrained into our everyday life. Not just with work, but also keeping in touch with family and friends. This was always going to be the case but has now accelerated due to Covid-19. Undoubtedly, there is still great importance on face to face communication and working, but as our working environment changes, so must our way of dealing with these challenges.”Our second article will be published on Friday 5th June - looking at how candidates have secured new opportunities during lockdown. Please follow our LinkedIn or Twitter pages to make sure you receive updates.

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