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Recruitment Challenges In the Time of Covid-19

Fiona Reid, Guest Post. 11 November 2020, 9:20 am

How are you finding recruiting good people at the moment?

For me, the last eight weeks have proven to be very challenging (to be honest, a nightmare) engaging two capable and competent full stack developers. Unlike this time last year, where we were inundated with applications, this year not only are volumes of applicants down, the quality of applications has also headed south. And to top it off, people are looking for top dollar in return for not so top expertise - not my idea of nirvana with multiple exciting projects on the go.

So what are the key drivers?

Without doubt, COVID-19 and the uncertainty this brings to our individual and collective futures is a definite starter for 10. Even with New Zealand's stellar response, people understandably are concerned and anxious about where we are headed. As such, keeping our heads down and bums up with our current job on the basis of 'better the devil you know' mentality is I think driving many 'stay where I am' decisions.

Adam Shapley, Managing Director of Hays New Zealand supported this view saying, "Professionals who would typically be looking for a new job are more likely to stay in their current role, with the importance of job security on the rise".

Jade Moolman, an IT recruitment specialist echoed my experience saying, "Recruitment processes that normally have a life cycle of three weeks are now taking six weeks. Wellington has always been a candidate short market, and I think this is largely a reflection of New Zealand as a whole, hence why we have loads of immigrants here job filling. And now our borders are closed, meaning we have the same already stretched candidate pool of skilled IT candidates on NZ shores with loads more jobs to fill".

Interestingly, Seek recently published it's list of Top 20 most needed jobs in New Zealand - that is, what industries have the most demand for new workers. Developers and programmers came in at number four, after nursing (#1), administrative assistants (#2) and warehousing, storage and distribution (#3). But, volumes of jobs are still way below pre-COVID levels with the ICT category on Seek as at June, 2020 being 54% of what it was.

With this in mind another contributing factor to my recruitment frustrations could be that my company - Somar Digital - is competing against other companies for the same small talent pool - many of whom are significantly bigger employers and thus are potentially perceived as a safer bet than a 15-20 person agency. Simply put, we are competing with more companies for less talent.

As one of my staff would say "Meh" - no wonder I'm finding it tough.

However I'm pleased to report It's not all doom and gloom - there is in fact a silver lining as Megan Sipeli from Momentum Recruitment outlined:

"In an already candidate short market, we continue to see demand increase as we embrace, grow and participate in more DevOps/Agile/scrum environments. There are some exciting initiatives happening across both private and public sectors, a positive sign that there is plenty of work out there. Over the next six months I expect to see more returning Kiwis enter the market, bringing international experience and some new faces to the market".

We can only hope.

On a final note, I'm happy to convey that my recruitment story did have a happy ending. It took a tad longer than I had hoped, but the old adage of some things (AKA people) are worth waiting for resonates resoundingly with me! I did find two very capable and competent full stack developers and we look forward to them joining our growing Somar Digital family.

If you would like to share your recent recruitment experiences with your fellow members, please do - we would love to hear from you.

About the writer:
Fiona Reid is General Manager of Somar Digital, a Wellington based digital agency that provides a full suite of web services and design expertise, putting people at the heart of every digital experience. She also serves on the boards of both Somar Digital and NZRise, having previously worked in senior leadership roles across digital businesses in both Aotearoa and Australia. 


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