Zoom in on lunch? Walk in the park? European recruiters adapt to Covid


In this news, we discuss the Zoom in on lunch? Walk in the park? European recruiters adapt to Covid


PRAGUE / ZURICH (Reuters) – Driving through the snow while interviewing someone is just another day in the office of Prague-based recruiter Blake Wittman, who has adopted new tactics to gain an advantage during a pandemic that shook the recruitment market in Europe.

On a frosty January morning, Wittman swapped his warm office for a park overlooking the historic old town of the Czech capital to interview a candidate outside in order to comply with strict social distancing rules.

The restrictions have made it difficult for recruiters to reach potential candidates, whose numbers have dwindled because many people with jobs are in a good position rather than looking to move on.

“When Covid struck, it became difficult to find candidates to talk to,” said Wittman, European business director at recruitment agency GoodCall.

“They are terrified of losing their jobs,” he said of the current mood in the once hot Czech labor market, where the number of vacancies has fallen by 70% over the years. first months of last year when the pandemic took hold.

Before the pandemic, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe enjoyed a job boom by offering low-cost business services to multinationals. But what was once a merry-go-round for recruiters has slowed down, as workers place more importance on job security than on rapid career advancement or changing jobs for longer. ‘silver.

Workers in the wealthiest economies of Western Europe are equally cautious about changing jobs, leaving it to recruiters to find the best way to help companies find people with the right skills in sectors capable of survive the pandemic.

Video interviews are now required for all vacancies that emerge. But many recruiters take it a step further, hosting Zoom lunches for more informal discussions.

They also rely more on psychometric testing, done remotely, as they are unable to test people in person.

“The problem is, a lot of companies and recruiters want to get an overview of candidates. So there is now a lot more stress on online behavioral testing, ”said Jon Hill, Prague-based recruiter.

Polish group Malecki Executive Search has adapted by offering a more personal touch to frequent travelers, such as giving advice, where appropriate, on local pandemic rules.

“Sometimes I have to be a relocation advisor or answer questions about something like when to wear a mask in Poland or cross a country’s border,” Krakow-based store manager Szymon Malecki told Reuters.

“We had to adapt to new situations on a daily basis.”


The premium on job security over higher wages will mean slower wage growth which will also delay wages in central Europe to catch up with those in Western Europe, according to recruiters.

While rapid wage increases have long fueled consumer spending and growth in the European Union’s eastern flank, a large wage gap remains. The gross hourly wage in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland hovers around 5 euros (6.08 dollars) against more than 15 euros in Germany, according to Eurostat data.

“Before, applicants were willing to consider a move for a little more money, better vision, or softer perks,” said Wittman of GoodCall. “In today’s world, these things don’t matter. What matters now is the longer term future. “

It is difficult to assess which industries and companies will emerge the strongest from the pandemic. And in Europe, the labor market will only fully adjust when governments in the region begin to end state-subsidized leave programs to protect jobs.

But with the first signs of a pickup in hiring in some areas, potential rewards await recruiters already able to adjust to social distancing restrictions and spot areas of the economy with the richest opportunities afterward. Covid.

Amsterdam-based Randstad says he is turning to big data to create a large skills inventory and using predictive software to determine where to place workers best.

In a sign of early returns, the world’s largest recruiting firm in October reported better-than-expected baseline profits in the third quarter and said it was seeing a significant recovery in revenue lost earlier in the pandemic.

“It’s not that there are no jobs,” Annemarie Muntz, Randstad’s managing director for global affairs, told Reuters.

“Talent redeployment has become a priority for many companies and governments,” she said, citing data from Randstad’s Workmonitor report and giving an example of transferring baggage handlers from airports to e-commerce warehouses.

Companies are also fighting harder to keep workers. Swiss staffing giant Adecco said job opportunities exist but companies also need to boost training for their existing workforce.

Adecco has launched training schools in France and Italy to teach skills that could be used in promising sectors.

These centers have so far qualified 35,000 people since the start of the crisis in areas such as digital, languages ​​and other skills, said the company’s global president, Christophe Catoir.

“People are less willing to move than they used to be, they want to keep their current jobs,” Catoir told Reuters. He said the number of Adecco employees – which employs around 15,000 people in Europe – who change jobs was 20% lower in 2020 than the normal rate.

“Workers prefer that part of their career path be permanent when they have to pay rent, repay loans and pay children.”

(1 USD = 0.8224 euros)

Additional reporting by Toby Sterling in Amsterdam; edited by Mark John and Jane Merriman

Original © Thomson Reuters

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