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Recruitment in a Pan(dem)ic

Lola Oguntokun


It’s January, the start of a new year, a month that inspires change and calls for something new. Perhaps you’re in a stable job, and you are getting itchy feet. Perhaps you’re out of work and keen to get stuck into something new (and earn some money!). Perhaps you’re a line manager or recruiter and want to take advantage of the larger candidate pool currently available.

There’s one huge glitch though, we’re in a pandemic. This results in a lot of panic… or should we say, pan(dem)ic activity:

  • Pan(dem)ic applications: a lot more candidates applying, simply for paid work, meaning a decrease in genuine interest in the opportunity and company;
  • Pan(dem)ic interviews: conversations are not as thorough as they should be, and its more difficult to read a person via zoom interactions;
  • Pan(dem)ic offers: offers coming off the back of the first two steps;
  • Pan(dem)ic offers acceptance: offers being accepted off the back of the first three steps;
  • Pan(dem)ic hiring: reality hits… and the dream job or hire turns into a nightmare…

Ok, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but I am certainly noticing a trend.

The reality is, I am one of the lucky ones. I have managed to maintain my job despite the pandemic. I appreciate not everyone is so lucky. Most of us live payday to payday due to a range of commitments. It is only natural that being out of work unexpectedly would send one into a panic… and on the road to a pandemic application and job.

There is no right or wrong here. As with all things, sometimes this works out, sometimes it doesn’t. However, it is important all players enter the game with their Eyes Wide Open.

Below are some tips I hope will help guide candidates, hiring managers and recruiters during this unpredictable time, or at least make you Think Twice.

I know it’s easier said than done, but please, try not to panic.

Candidate tips

Don’t panic apply / accept, you may find yourself in a worse off position. Below are some questions I would recommend you consider before applying for or accepting that job.

  • Are you genuinely interested in what this company does? If so, why?
  • Do you see this role as a learning / challenging opportunity?
  • Do you understand the type of company you will be joining?
  • Do you understand the type of manager you will be working with? Do they bring confidence?
  • Do you understand the challenges the company, manager and team currently face? Does the hiring manager proactively address them? — If they don’t, this is a red flag.
  • Does the hiring manager have solutions? Or are you seen as the solution? Consider the pros and cons of this, and whether this is realistically something you can do or fits into what you envision your next step to be.

Hiring manager tips

  • Don’t be blinded by a “good profile”, make sure you understand who the candidate is, what motivates them and what their expectations are. Does your role realistically match? Or are you trying to fit a square peg into a round hole?
  • Do you find you’re having to convince the candidate throughout the process? This often means there is a misalignment — and it is a red flag.
  • Let your recruiter do their job. They are there to guide and guard, and they can often see where you may have a blindspot.
  • Work effectively with your recruiter to ensure you have a thorough process, with some form of skills-based assessment, i.e. a presentation on a relevant topic.
  • Salary negotiations should always be handled by the recruiter. They are are able to handle this crucial part of the process much more objectively and double check that the candidate is joining for the right reasons, and not just for money.

Recruiter tips

Yes — the market is more active, but this actually means your job is now harder than ever before. Candidate suitability does not increase with the increase of candidates in the job market. Now it is more important than ever to ensure you ask the right questions and truly know your candidate.

  • What story does the candidate’s profile tell you? Is it one that aligns with the characteristics you’re looking for?
  • When the candidate tells you their story, does it make sense? Does 1 + 1 = 2? If it doesn’t, ask the question again. Do you get a different answer? Challenge the logic.
  • Are you convinced your opportunity is the right next step for the candidate, why?
  • Do you genuinely believe both the candidate and company will benefit from the partnership?
  • Are you spending the majority of your time convincing and chasing the candidate? — This is a red flag.
  • What are you ignoring, why?

The last bullet point is critical. One of the biggest lessons I have learnt as a recruiter is not to be afraid to lose a candidate. The opportunity should be mutually beneficial for both parties, and not simply centred around money, but the opportunity of growth — on both sides. If you force what does not fit, you may be lucky enough to get the win initially, but it will be temporary, and the fallout can be damaging.

Don’t get me wrong. This may be the perfect time to find that perfect candidate, or that perfect job. Just remember… Eyes Wide Open.

Good Luck, Everyone!



Lola Oguntokun

I help build, shape and champion innovative companies and culture.