Are companies hiring? 

What does the job market look like? 

How has the coronavirus affected the job market and the way companies are hiring right now?

I’ve been recruiting in the consumer products industry for over 20 years and have a front row seat to the job market within CPG. The best way I know to answer these questions is to let you into my world.

Below are real scenarios of several client companies I’m working with. They’re taking a range of approaches:

  1. I’m working with a company that sells necessity type items, and they absolutely need to hire someone. They need help! That said, they’re so busy right now they are hard-pressed just to find time to conduct the interviews.
  2. Another company sells general merchandise (what would be considered a non-essential item). They are actively interviewing with the understanding that they will bring this person on after the coronavirus subsides.
  3. Both a large food company and small food company I’m working with need to hire someone. But both companies have put all interviewing and hiring on hold until the virus subsides.
  4. Another general merchandise company doesn’t have any current openings but does want to know about top talent, having previously made top hires when they weren’t actively looking. They too won’t be able to hire until coronavirus is under control.

What’s the best approach?

Answer: B and D.

  • In my opinion B is the best scenario. Understandably, companies are hesitant to hire right now.  But the best approach is to interview with the plan of identifying the candidate they want to hire so they will be able to on-board them when the time comes. They’re setting expectations accordingly, telling candidates upfront that they’ll bring them on board only once the virus recedes.
  • Also, D. Companies that identify quality candidates on a rolling basis tend to have better success finding the talent they want. The option, waiting until they have to hire someone, can put them in a bind when the market is tight and challenging.

What about C, putting hiring on hold? Once we get past the virus, the companies who put their positions on hold are all going to be looking at the same time, leading to a significant spike in demand for talent. Likewise, companies that don’t make hiring needs known until after the virus fades will be in stiff competition for candidates.

The candidate side also presents a challenge. From my experience having recruited during the recession, many candidates go into hibernation during a season of uncertainty. As the full economy reopens, they’ll need time to warm to the idea of changing companies. 

Bottom line: The companies that will win the war for talent are those whose interview process is the most proactive.

Even though the world seems to have stopped, we should keep moving forward to prepare for what comes next. Coronavirus has brought unique challenges to business. It has also brought a new perspective, prompting us to question assumptions about what is normal and what is essential.

Every business is assessing every corner of operations to look for efficiencies, redundancies, and opportunities. We’re all rethinking how to operate. While you are studying the changing needs of your company and those of your clients, we will keep a close eye on the talent pool and the rapidly evolving job market.

If you choose to use a recruiting firm, I hope you will keep in touch. We’re interested in your plans and we can help you stay informed on hiring trends and what other companies are doing. No single approach to hiring will work in every situation, and we understand this could be a bumpy ride. But we’ll be here to share what we’ve learned as you navigate the road ahead.

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