The global outbreak of the coronavirus has disrupted markets, prompted world leaders to consider major stimulus measures, and pushed governments and banks to see what they can do to ease the impending financial burden for people and businesses.
Meanwhile, the first quarter is one of the most active times for recruitment. In Q1, companies are given budgets for the quarter and deliver business plans for the year. Job roles open more frequently during this time and the process is usually finalised by the beginning of April.
However, with the coronavirus outbreak, companies across the world are starting to send staff home or work in less-densely populated areas, events are being cancelled or postponed, and some firms are enacting strict policies around non-vetted external visitors.
This undoubtedly will mean a change to the recruitment process. Global tech giants and some of the world’s most prolific employers — Google, Amazon, Facebook and LinkedIn — said that they were moving job interviews online, following the escalation of the coronavirus outbreak.
“Senior leaders across the board will have budget headcount to hit this quarter so ultimately it won’t affect the number of hires made, although time to hire could be (slightly) delayed,” said Darren Burns, operations director, global professional services recruiter Morgan McKinley to Yahoo Finance UK.
“We have seen a number of firms close for deep clean or clients that are sending staff home to test remote infrastructure. This, in turn, delays candidates interviewing by a week or so.”
Burns added that there is likely to be a bigger uptake in virtual recruitment — interviewing candidates on Google Hangouts or Skype. He says that while this is quite common, “it does add another stage to the process as candidates are screened over the phone before being shortlisted to face to face interview.”
Indeed, people going for senior positions usually always have to have a face to face interview at some point. Face-to-face interviews are also essential for recruitment firms that can gain around $100,000 (£77,758) in fees for placing senior executives in the banking industry, for example.
While the coronavirus outbreak hasn’t reached its peak and the knock-on effects for companies’ fortunes is unknown yet, Burns points out that there could be possibility that companies may retract jobs in light of the changing bottom line for the firms.
“My concerns are more around more clients closing and peer pressure for others to follow suit. There are several already — a mix of financial service, commerce and technology companies — no industry trends but big corporates that have closed offices/working from home,” said Burns.
“If we see a chain reaction of employees working from home this will slow hiring numbers for March and early April which impacts the recruitment industry. It’s too early to forecast a recruitment dip. I truly hope not. The start of this year has been positive for permanent hires and remains challenging for temp due to IR35 (off payroll working rules) but overall with Brexit we were hoping for a more settled environment. It now feels Q2 will be unpredictable.”