Covid-19 Special Market Report

Welcome to our quarterly market report. Instead of our normal insights into the previous quarter and market outlook, given the substantial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have shifted our focus.

Q1 was a great start to the year for Financial Services hiring, with volumes up 18% on the previous quarter and 22% higher than previous year. However, as the UK economy entered lock-down, nearly 75% of all permanent vacancies were withdrawn from our Financial Services clients and nearly all interim hiring was put on hold; in Commerce & Industry & Professional Services, all but a handful of roles were put on hold by our client base. There has been a modest bounce-back after the initial knee-jerk reaction, with around 15 vacancies being progressed and we have moved to a virtual office with staff working and recruiting from home.

In this report, we highlight what recruitment is still taking place, share the challenges of remote recruitment and provide recommendations to those needing to manage the candidate process during Covid-19.


What hiring is being done?

Understandably, we have seen some “crisis specific” interim hiring, and we have had several interim roles through in the Business Continuity/Resilience areas, as well as first-line IT support roles.  Most of the hiring that is being undertaken focuses on firms continuing with their BAU requirements in the confidence that video conferencing interviews work well, and they have the processes and technology to onboard staff remotely.


Key Challenges firms have experienced when recruiting remotely:

  • Technology: with staff working from home, there has been extra strain on video conferencing technologies and slow connections. We have been advising to back up Zoom/Webex details with sharing of the candidate’s mobile with hiring managers
  • IT Equipment: we have had clients who have made hiring decisions via video conference interviews, however, have been unable to start the individual due to challenges sourcing new Laptops or IT Security Keys
  • HR Policies: some firms have lacked agile HR practices, so whilst managers have made hiring decisions, current HR policies don’t facilitate remote onboarding for probity reasons
  • Candidate Confidence: individuals are more reticent to move during a crisis and in a recessionary environment. We explore this in more detail below.


Outlook for Q2 and Q3

It is challenging to give a view when hiring will take on any form of “business as usual” feel as firm’s are having to reframe their talent priorities daily and are even considering whether now is the time to rip up the current playbook and fundamentally change their whole operating models for certain functions. 

A straw poll amongst the Financial Services clients would indicate there are in no rush to ask staff to return to the office environment, but that hiring volumes would pick up from August onwards.  We would anticipate there will be more prevalent use of interim staff whilst business leaders get a strong sense of COVID’s mid to long-term impact on business volumes.  This would hopefully be a welcome development for the contractor market which has been decimated in many areas with IR35 wrangling, rate cuts due to COVID for those fortunate enough to be on assignment and lack of opportunities across the board. 


For more market insights & advice on hiring, please get in touch with the team today.