May 14th 2020

Life after Corona: A letter from our founder

Tempo’s CEO & Co-Founder, Ben Chatfield, shares his thoughts on life after coronavirus. 

The challenge

Almost overnight, coronavirus turned the job market on its head. In January the UK saw a record 76.3% level of employment. Fast forward to mid-March and millions have found themselves furloughed or made redundant.

It is estimated that 7-10 million people, or a third of the private sector, will be furloughed and 50% of companies are putting most of their staff into the job retention scheme. Once the scheme runs its course, we will be facing record levels of unemployment.

We can look to the US, where 52% of the population below the age of 45 have lost jobs, hours or been furloughed, to get a sense of what’s to come. It is estimated the unemployment rate could soar to 30% in the aftermath of the crisis.

Even those not affected by furlough or redundancy are using this time to reassess what’s important to them, whether they are in the right career and learning the skills they need to transition into something new.

Once the dust settles we are going to see an enormous amount of movement.

Looking ahead

The hiring tools we currently have at our disposal are not designed for this surge in activity. Generalist tools like Indeed or Linkedin either encourage a volume-based approach, take significant time investment – or both. The average time to hire in the UK is 40 days and the tools are partly to blame.

The sheer volume of job board applications is already an issue. Add in millions of applicants who have been displaced from their jobs and traditional job boards will become totally unworkable, both for companies and from a candidate experience perspective. Spending hundreds of thousands of pounds a year on agency fees will seem wasteful, nor will they be able to keep up with the pace of demand, and hiring teams will simply not have the time to trawl through places like LinkedIn.

These are not normal times and, as we begin to shift focus from mitigating the health impacts of Covid-19 to the enormous task of rebuilding the workforce, we cannot return to normal recruitment methods.

The generalist platforms and tools that people have become so accustomed to will not offer the scale, speed or efficiency that will be required.

The challenge ahead is like nothing the job market has experienced before but it represents an amazing opportunity to wipe the slate clean and re-design the hiring process.

A better way to hire

Specialist, or vertical, marketplaces do one thing and they do it very well. Either by focusing on a certain category of roles or a specific candidate demographic. By doing this, they are able to effectively match the right people to the right roles and deliver the sort of speed, quality and efficiencies that will be needed post-corona.

Once the economy re-opens, companies will want to ramp up quickly and there will be significant first-mover advantage for those able to ramp fastest. As ever, people will be key in driving this, and speed and quality in hiring will be essential. The benefits of vertical marketplaces over the larger, horizontal platform such as LinkedIn, will become obvious.

Hiring for customer operations vs a software development team requires a very different process. By using marketplaces with features tailored to a specific market, companies can benefit from tools that have been designed to make the hiring process quick and seamless for that demographic. As an example, hiring for a Customer Operations Executive on Tempo takes 4 days on average, vs the industry average of 40 days when using tools like Indeed or LinkedIn.

Recruitment teams have run lean for some time and are expected to do more with less. This trend is likely to continue. The teams that cope best will leverage technology wherever possible, effectively supercharging their own abilities.

Video is the new normal

In the last two months, our personal and professional lives have become one long video call. Whether Zoom, Slack, FaceTime or Houseparty, video has become an essential part of how we communicate. Whilst in-person meetings cannot be replaced, people have also realised that there are a plethora of scenarios where video is a much better format due to the convenience and time savings it enables.

This has wide ranging implications, not only for things like business travel but also for the hiring process. Will we ever go back to flying applicants to other countries for interviews when they could do a video call instead? I doubt it. The rise of AR/VR in this space will be fascinating to watch.

Telephone calls have long been swapped for video but people are now realising that entire hiring processes can be run digitally. Video is no longer confined to the start of the process. Its use is also not limited to junior candidates or specific roles; video’s value is universal.

Since lockdown Tempo has hired a Head of Finance, Head of People, a Software Developer, a Performance Marketing Manager and a QA Manager – all over video. They’re all brilliant candidates who believe in our mission, who fit our culture and values. Numerous clients have done the same.

Companies not using video as part of their hiring process pre-corona have scrambled to catch up. However, what they’ve found is that many of the video interviewing tools out there simply replace, or even add, a step to an existing process – which defeats the point. Video can totally transform the way we hire and how we search for jobs if we let it. Now is the time.

Short term gains = long term pains

For a long time the jobs market has been candidate driven. Skills and talent being in short supply, particularly in markets like technology, has seen companies put a huge emphasis on candidate experience, employer branding, employee wellbeing, perks, and training and development – all with the aim of attracting, and then retaining, those hard to find skillsets. Salaries have also been on the rise and candidates have been able to pick and choose what offer they accept.

The picture is now very different. The number of companies still hiring is small and the number of people furloughed, made redundant – or worried that they soon will be – is in the millions.

Companies are now, to a greater extent, able to pick and choose who they hire, and markets that have seen inflated salaries are experiencing a correction.

There may be temptation for companies to cut spending on things like candidate experience and employer branding and regress back to treating candidates as a commodity, especially in the face of reduced revenues. This sort of short term thinking would be a huge mistake.

People will remember how brands behaved during this crisis and although it will feel good making easier hires now, the damage to the employer brand in the long term will be hard to repair.

Although the next several months are going to be challenging, Tempo finds itself working on one of the most important and impactful problems of our time – rebuilding the workforce and creating a better way for millions of people back into jobs. This is an opportunity to radically improve the hiring process. Let’s not miss it.

If you would like to discuss the future of your company with us, please do not hesitate to get in touch.