How recruiters can help candidates pivot

It is tough out there for jobseekers. UK unemployment reached its highest level in over three years in October and redundancies surged to levels not seen since the previous recession in 2009.

This is leading to a talent pool that is expanding rapidly and, despite October being the healthiest month we’ve seen in terms of job posts all year, we also saw the highest number of applications to date in 2020 – WaveTrackR data recorded a massive 175% over the average for January-March in the second week of October. Candidates are sometimes competing against hundreds (and in extreme cases thousands) of other applicants so what can recruiters do to help? Advising on CV formatting, interview techniques and personal branding is all incredibly useful but recruiters might now need to think about a different approach – using a candidate’s transferable skills to pivot them in a different direction. 

We have talked a lot about the ways in which recruitment companies can pivot in order to survive and continue to grow during these challenging times, including in a recent Talent matters webinar. Candidates, too, may need to change direction in order to find a job in a saturated market. And LinkedIn data suggests that they are willing to do just that. 61% of surveyed unemployed jobseekers in the UK would pivot their career to work in a different industry and the same percentage would pivot to work in a different job function.

The reality is that, whilst industries such as travel and tourism, hospitality, retail and live events are being hit hard, other sectors are booming. WaveTrackR recorded IT & Internet as posting 17% of jobs across all industries in October, with Education posting the same percentage. Public Sector, Property and Health & Nursing also made it into our top 5 industries for jobs posted. These are the industries with significant job activity and yet Public Sector and Health & Nursing didn’t make it onto our top 5 for applications. It is this disparity that must be addressed. 

In order to consider a career pivot, what recruiters can help candidates to unearth is their core, transferable skills. For example, if a candidate works in a people-facing hospitality or travel role, they could be well placed to work in an essential retail store or in the caring sector. Career pivots have become more common among millennials where job hopping isn’t unusual so it won’t be a totally alien idea to many organisations, especially given the current situation. What is important is to find roles that fit a candidate’s core values and soft skills and help them to sell those. As the LinkedIn survey shows, candidates are also willing to pivot to another position that utilises similar skillsets so this is another route that can be considered. 

The truth is that many candidates will need to make some long and hard decisions when it comes to their career, particularly if they have historically worked in an industry that is being slammed by the pandemic. It’s never easy making changes that were not part of the career path you’d mapped out for yourself and recruiters will have to tread carefully. However, there are new opportunities emerging in this radically changing job market that candidates can capitalise on with the right approach. It’s also worth reminding candidates that nothing is forever. Applying for jobs outside of their field doesn’t mean they have to stay in that sector and it might even make them more marketable when the crisis is over.           

For many, 2020 will become the year of the pivot. The key is to focus on jobs with a high number of vacancies where the candidate’s skills are still valid and highly transferrable. With the right approach, a plethora of jobs can become available to many who are currently struggling to find work. As a recruiter, you can help make that happen. 

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