The Recruitment Industry and COVID

The Recruitment Industry and COVID

How Has the Recruitment Industry Changed Due To COVID?

The coronavirus pandemic has had a substantial effect on the global economy, with the UK economy slumping by a record 10% in 2020. This in turn, has disrupted the job market and the recruitment industry. But what are the impacts and are they here to stay? In this article we will explore what influence COVID-19 has had on recruitment and discuss if the changes are long-term or whether we will simply return to ‘business as usual’.

The Hiring Needs of Businesses

Perhaps the first and most noticeable shift we witnessed was a change in recruitment strategies across all industries. Whilst many businesses had to shut down; layoff employees; freeze hiring or furlough staff- others had to launch recruitment campaigns to meet demands.

Top 3 sectors hit by coronavirus in UK:

The top 3 sectors hit by coronavirus.

At least 167, 450 jobs have been lost due to coronavirus in the UK. Of these 48,379 were in the retail industry; 37,104 in aviation; and 34,524 in the hospitality sector. (Source: SKY NEWS – data updated 14April 2021).

Top 5 companies hiring in UK amid COVID-19:

The top five companies hiring in covid.

Industries such as healthcare, food, logistics and technology, on the contrary, experienced a shortfall and the #KeepBritianWorking campaign aimed to redeploy workers from struggling sectors into in-demand ones. (Source:

So, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a shift in business and consumer demands that has driven hiring in certain areas. But are these changes set to remain?  As lockdown restrictions ease we may begin to see ‘normal’ hiring levels resume, especially with a renewed consumer appetite for travel, leisure and shopping. However, the pandemic seems to have only accelerated existing trends spurring on an inevitable change in the hiring market. There will be increased demand for technical roles over traditional corporate support functions and we will see the emergence of a different mix of occupations post-pandemic.

Before COVID the buzzword in recruitment was ‘talent shortage’ – unemployment rates were lower than ever, and the key challenge was attracting quality candidates.  In the years ahead the focus will be different. MGI reports on the global post-pandemic economy predict that almost all growth in labour demand will occur in the high wage bracket. As a result, 25% more low wage workers will need to shift occupations and acquire new skills. The recruitment industry will play a crucial role in retraining and facilitating this workforce transition.

A New Approach

While Covid-19 has posed a serious threat to long-term vacancy and employment rates, there have been a few silver linings. Many recruiters have discovered innovative ways to conduct business in these challenging times and it is likely many won’t look back. Below are 4 key developments to emerge out of the crisis, with a discussion on whether they will continue to have a place in the industry once the dust has settled.

1. Driving Innovation

To protect the health of staff and candidates, agencies have had to shift to virtual recruitment in the wake of the pandemic.  For companies that already used recruitment software prior to COVID-19 this was an easier process.

Recruitment software pie chart

Many successful teams went further and adopted new technologies such as video interviews and virtual onboarding to stay ahead of the curve.  As a result, the pandemic has helped many businesses to innovate and modernise their recruitment process. Now, with the experience of streamlined and cost-effective workflows it is unlikely any will want to go back to the old way of hiring.  RecTech will be the new normal, even in the post-pandemic world.

2. Dynamic Hiring

With strict social distancing rules in-person interviews have become practically impossible. Yet boosted by digital innovation the hiring process has arguably became a more dynamic.

Virtual interviews and onboarding pie chart.

Reduced barriers and accelerated hire time have got recruiters rethinking, and the efficiencies born out of necessity mean that companies will continue to implement these processes for the long term. Virtual interviews, for example, particularly in the vetting stages are expected to become an industry standard.

3. Remote Working

Prior to the outbreak 68% of British employees never worked from home- but once the crisis is over most (57%) say they want to be able to continue working from home.

remote work after covid pie chart.

As the virus diminishes, some suggest that there may be a permanent shift toward remote working.  Not only because of employee wishes but also because of the cost efficiency for organisations. If this is the case virtual hiring is a must-have practice for the future.

4. Better Working Relationships

Corporate wellbeing has been a rising trend for a few years now but our awareness of it has only been enhanced since the global health crisis.  The necessary restrictions imposed on us have made us truly value our health and relationships and many enterprises have seen this as an opportunity to offer a different type of working relationship.

Businesses have adapted to increase flexible working arrangements and recruiters, in particular, have had to be creative to ensure new members settle into their role quickly.

It is probable that once lockdown is lifted, initiatives like virtual ‘meet and greets’, will be a thing of the past. Nevertheless, the value of a better work/life balance and the demand for flexible hours will undoubtedly remain.


Overall, it is clear that COVID-19 has definitely changed the recruitment industry, the job market and the way we recruit. Upon examination it also appears that broad recovery can be led by enhanced productivity and innovation. 

The recruitment industry will continue to play a pivotal role in mobilising the UK economy and workforce, but also by helping clients adapt to a new ‘normal’ of recruiting, providing job opportunities and market advice. Agencies who rise to the challenge and utilise technology will stay one step ahead. Contact our experts at 1PS to ensure you are ready for the future of work and the future of hiring.