April fool or seize the day?

April 2020

Maurice Goldstone


There have been easier times to be in recruitment. There have been easier times to be in pretty much everything, with the possible exception of selling video conferencing facilities.

At Allen Lane, we, like our competitors, have a responsibility to influence our market and to help our clients and candidates make astute decisions.  We also have a responsibility that comes with employing, and caring for the wellbeing of, almost 40 Allen Laners and running a business responsibly as we seek to come out of this terribly sad period of history in the best position that we can.

Indeed, we are proud of the fact that we are embarking on complex, fascinating, recruitment campaigns with the likes of Westminster City Council (https://www.westminsterwayprocurement.info), Guys’ and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust (https://allenlanerecruitment.wixsite.com/gstt-bc), the National Crime Agency (https://allenlanerecruitment.wixsite.com/nca-it) and Crisis (https://allenlanerecruitment.wixsite.com/crisis). They, and others, are using our experienced consultants to help ensure their future teams are equipped with the right expertise to help them meet their future goals.

In addition, we are doing what we can for our clients. We are supporting NHS Trusts as they try to help the UK overcome COVID-19 by providing new interim members of staff for the duration of their assignments charging only effectively what it costs us to pay the candidates weekly. We are supporting our contractors (and other candidates) learn the ropes of working remotely and helping them understand what they’re entitled to in the eventuality that they’re unable to work due to the coronavirus or their parent organisation being unable to house them.

But really we’re stuck in the middle…

On one hand, we want organisations to proceed with hiring. We know that in some ways candidates will never have had more time to consider applications and prepare compelling expressions of interest. On the other, we know that over recent days and future weeks, individuals are prioritising getting used to the new ‘norms’ – feeding themselves and their families; helping parents and vulnerable individuals close to them; schooling kids; Joe Wicks…, and seeking a new role is for many passive seekers not the top priority, especially if their own organisations are helping them feel safe in these uncertain times.

Equally, remote interviews are the present as are remote meetings through a number of platforms that we’re hearing about on a daily basis such as “zoom” and “teams”, even this technophobe is embracing technology. But whilst interviews are doable, are people going to make offers without a face to face meeting? Are candidates going to sign on that dotted line having had only a potentially grainy series of conversations, potentially interrupted by kids running through a makeshift office…?

My advice is, on balance, go for it. Try it. We don’t know yet when life as we knew it returns and therefore we need to embrace the new normal where possible. We have seen clients committing to offers and candidates committing to prospective new jobs in recent days; and where organisations aren’t sure whether they will or won’t, they are increasingly willing to start processes – where budget and time allows – to ensure that they get to a point that when face to face meetings are again possible, they are quickly able to arrange meetings with people they have assessed, talked to, bought into etc. This will prevent significant delays further down the line and allow you to get ahead of your competition in attracting the top talent across, in our cases, the public and not for profit sectors.

Indeed I have first-hand experience of why it is worth keeping processes alive where possible. A local advisory board member (governor in old money) at my daughter’s school, earlier this week I was lucky enough to be part of a panel to zoom interview the school’s next prospective “Head”. Bar a handshake, on our side of the screen we were convinced that we had seen everything we needed to from a series of interviews and enjoyed a successful day – and a break from the tricky conversations dominating our daily lives.

But obviously, above and beyond everything else, listen to what the baked potato says. Keep well, keep indoors and keep safe.

Allen Lane

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33 King Street, St. James’s,
London, SW1Y 6RJ