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Smells Like Quarantine Spirit

By March 27, 2020One Comment

After 4 grueling weeks of back to back blogs for Mr. Walters I’ve returned unto the breach dear friends. I actually returned to Aotearoa from Mexico on Wednesday the 11th of March, two days before my birthday and three days before the mandatory self-isolation. Personally, I was quite pleased to be able to get back into the office and breathe some life back into my desk. The news broke a short time after that voluntary self-isolation was recommended for all people who have traveled overseas. Not that my pursuit for the ol Yankee dollar trumped my health concerns for the general populous but I decided against voluntarily isolating myself. A decision I am pretty content with as now I am 3 days into isolation and I already feel like I’m orbiting earth from a distant space station.

Some context; I live on my own. My usual flatmate decided to establish HQ in his office, a move I’m sure has more to do with his tireless work ethic than any growing health concerns. As I saw Pete head out the door with his mattress, I was blasted into the isolationsphere. At first, the freedom of going to the bathroom with the door wide open is liberating but it took one slideshow of 10 creepy unexplained videos for me to long for a barrel-chested kiwi to keep me safe. As I write this, I can see some very clear comparisons to Jack Nicholson’s character in the Shinning; trying to write a great novel of a blog but settling for the same repetitive drivel. Not quite as haunting as “all work and no play” but it is increasingly hard to talk about anything that doesn’t have Coronavirus slant to it. Even Alexa, who is my version of Wilson in a tech reboot of Castaway, delivers the sports news through a somewhat ironic automated voice due to there being no sports to speak of! Just Coronavirus related news. What I can provide is my own personal slant on how to deal with isolation and what’s happening out there in the recruitment world.

Short answer; not a lot. There are still some sectors that are relatively busy; trades/construction and ITD/Analytics seem to have taken the hit with some grace. Not completely immune mind. Speaking to consultants and clients this week there is a common theme of new starters being made redundant. Companies such as Downer made all contractors redundant, roughly 200 people in tech.  Consultants are still working on closing deals that were underway pre-alert system but on the whole, we have entered a bit of a freeze. As a drip down model, if your clients are tightening the purse strings, we as recruiters feel it too. A handful of more agile agencies have switched to a 4-day working week to deal with the short term hit. I registered a candidate on Monday, scheduled a phone interview for Wednesday which went well but the client has made it clear that it will be 3-4 weeks before being able to progress further. A placement that was due to start in May has been told that June is more likely now. Considering how quickly things have changed in a week it’s understandable that clients are being precautious. Some more than others with an influx of candidate managers, non-billing consultants, and associates within their 90 days have found their way to my inbox. It’s not just the last ones in or the bottom run of the ladder that has been susceptible to the chop; it’s the managers who don’t bill that need to be prepared. Those agencies with large government contracts should weather the storm better than those, Wellington should remain somewhat insulated; going down a gear as appose to stalling completely. Some knees have definitely jerked and it’s disappointing to see but for those who have been affected there is a light at the end of the tunnel and like my ol mum used to say “this too shall pass”. One thing is for sure, I think the market will be a much leaner beast upon our return.

That’s what we need to plan for, the return. For me and I assume a lot of other consultants it’s a great time to be establishing strong relationships with your candidate base, we’re literally all in the same boat here. That shared sense of disillusion is a great ice breaker. Market Maps, albeit not the sexy side of recruitment, is a great way to get a lay of the land prior to any plans of conquering that land when everyone is back. Also, during these uncertain times, you would be surprised how differently a connection request from a rec to rec is received. Keep adverts running with the caveat that the process will be less than traditional and set clear expectations regarding time frames. In terms of how to deal with isolation; keep busy. Bunnings looked like Woodstock at the beginning of the week so I’m expecting to see freshly painted fences around the country once I get out. Upskill, be proactive but I think most importantly in isolated times; be creative. My sister who is at home with two kids has followed suit with others in the UK and had the kids paint rainbows in the window to show support and solidarity with the essential workers. Even staging an 8 pm clap from their doorsteps in salute of the NHS, the nihilist in me thinks a whip-round would’ve been more prudent. I have a personal duel with a recruitment manager over how many keep ups can be done with a roll of toilet paper, the winner buys lunch on return. It’s been 14 days since Liverpool opened her doors to thousands of Spanish Atletico fans, a decision that still irks me considering where the UK is at currently with their outbreak, nothing to do with the result. That’s the last time I and a lot of other people watched competitive football and I think it is having an effect. I received a video from a friend and current champ of a fantasy mini-league who has used household objects to create a team. If you would like to see my team obviously DM me.

I don’t pretend to be an economist or claim to have gone through anything like this before. However, it seems to be the difference between this mini-recession and the past is the usually cautious approach people have to spend money once the dust has settled won’t be there. If you coup people up and tell them they can’t go out for four weeks I’d like to think the natural reaction after is to go splurge. From a recruitment perspective, when we get over the hump NZ will still have the same skill shortage problem, agencies will need to build back up to deal with demand as will most of your clients. From a wellness point of view, don’t stress too much about hitting those targets this month or next to be fair. What’s important is the preparation you put into your return, to dust off an old adage; failure to prepare, prepare to fail. If you would like to have a chat concerning the market or just for a yarn give me a call as I’d love to stay in touch with the outside world – 0212 934 913.

Video chats require a little more prep as I’ve regressed to quite the student aesthetic, not a soul to impress ☺

One Comment

  • George says:

    Great blog, Scottie boy – although I can’t help but think that your journey to the Heart of Darkness has already begun… First the personal appearance starts to slip, then you start thinking that Walters talks sense, and then… ‘the horror, the horror’! Give me a bell mate, love to chat. Thinking a bit of a coronabeard might be a good plan for the isolationsphere (nice term by the way) so don’t think appearance standards are slipping here if you go for the video call approach…