Voices

Lessons learned recruiting staff after the apocalypse.

The headlines warning of ‘the great resignation’ underline the fact the post-pandemic talent landscape is fundamentally different from what came before.

Stephen Barnes, Collective

Founding Partner

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“I want my new job to feel like a rebirth.” I’ve been hiring people for almost 20 years and I’ve never heard that statement before.

And that wasn’t the only statement or question that has shocked/intrigued/entertained me in our recent hiring blitz. The post-pandemic talent landscape is very different to what we knew before. Like Rick Grimes or Tallahassee trying to find their way through their new post-apocalyptic worlds, there are new rules, new dangers and new challenges.

Not least the fact that people have had 18 months to really think about what they want from their work, their careers and their employers. From getting furloughed, to going freelance (or back the other way thanks to the difficulties IR35 has presented) to considering simply fucking off out of the industry completely and opening a micro-brewery, there’s been time to think and now its time to choose.

People have had 18 months to really think about what they want from their work, their careers and their employers.

Stephen Barnes, Founding Partner, Collective

For context we are a small to medium sized full-service agency with a headcount of around 30 people. Whilst extremely challenging we have been able to remain relatively unscathed from the pandemic. We decided early on that we would prioritize our people over profit and are now seeing the positive results of that strategy as revenue streams come back online.

We currently have 10 open roles following a raft of new business wins and our recruitment efforts have seen a marked change in candidate’s behaviours since things started opening up with different attitudes and behaviours across the board.

One of the most noticeable changes we have seen has been around the motivation for initiating the search for a new job.

Traditionally talent would look to move on due to operational factors or simply looking for better pay and career progression. Outside of these normal motivations we have seen the most popular reason for changing jobs is that they want life to ‘feel’ different.

During lockdown everyone has had a lot more time for reflection, stepping out of the daily grind has allowed an existential reappraisal of priorities. Even if the job they were in was actually really good and they were happy, the need to feel like they are taking positive action to drive change has become a huge motivating factor in the job market.

Hence the “I want my new role to feel like a rebirth” comment.

Decision making is now being driven by emotion rather than rational thinking

This drive for change has led to a different line of questioning from candidates during the interview process. Previously the majority of questions asked were around how we work and the type of work that we do – very functional and rational stuff. What we are seeing now is that once those hygiene boxes have been ticked the conversation moves on to “what’s it actually like to work here?” and “What does it feel like?”.

The interaction is happening on a more human level and a company's values, and more importantly, how they live them are more important now than ever.

Traditionally talent would look to move on due to operational factors or simply looking for better pay and career progression. Outside of these normal motivations we have seen the most popular reason for changing jobs is that they want life to ‘feel’ different.

Stephen Barnes, Founding Partner, Collective

The recruitment battleground for top talent has changed

While we’ve all talked about workplace culture for years, and bought the dart boards and the pool tables and zesty IPA’s, that’s not enough now. Prospective employees want to know specific plans for your growth of the business, what changes you are making post-pandemic to make their working life better. Culture is no longer A point of difference, it’s the point of difference

They are emboldened by their position and want us to be better and give them better. They want to know how you are going to sustain momentum, but remain flexible, and what the back-up plan is if it all goes wrong.

This goes for benefits and financial security as well. We are getting asked about the 5 year financial plan for the business. They want to know we know where it's going and that the business, and by association. themselves, will be financially safe.

Show me – don’t tell me.

And words (or pool tables and zesty IPAs) are not enough now. They want proof. It's really helping our cause when we can talk about our application for B Corp status (pending but ratified soon). But be prepared to be cross-examined in how you live up to any promises or claims you make.

Hopefully though, this more attuned, aware and driven workforce won’t just mean a rebirth for them, but will drive a rebirth for all of us and make the industry a better place.

Guest Author

Stephen Barnes, Collective

Founding Partner,

About

Steve is one of Collective’s founding partners, and has over 20 years’ experience directing creatively-led executions for blue chip clients. Traditionally trained as a graphic designer, Steve’s early career focused on delivering multi channel executions for international brands including Audi, Adidas, and Deutsch Telecom. Key highlights include rebranding Deutsch Telecom's youth brand TD-1 and helping launch The Ministry of Sound to a global audience. Since founding Collective Steve has been responsible for the creative output of the agency helping brands such as Honda, BP and Hyundai navigate the ever changing marketing landscape.

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