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What We’re Seeing as the Business World Adapts to Coronavirus

The Betts Team
April 16, 2020

We’re now fully immersed in a new work and business landscape sparked by COVID-19. Some companies and professionals have adapted remarkably well. Others, not so much. But most are, on some level, still working to find their footing and keep moving forward. 

Their efforts have been multi-faceted and varied – this is a lot more complicated than just transitioning to remote work. Throughout the process, we’ve been keeping a close eye on the ways people and companies are adapting, largely through conversations with our partners and the talented professionals we work with as a recruiting company. 

This is a challenge, to be sure, but the main conclusion we’ve reached is that there’s more positivity out there than many people realize.

Here are a few of the patterns and changes we’ve observed so far. We’ll be updating this post regularly as the coronavirus response plays out. In the meantime: Stay calm! This is a challenge, to be sure, but the main conclusion we’ve reached is that there’s more positivity out there than many people realize.

By far, the most widespread trend we’ve seen is companies going remote. Learn skills for remote sourcing, interviewing, onboarding, and managing in our guide.

We’re remote now. But will we stay remote?

Some companies we’ve spoken to are eager to get back to the office once it’s safe to do so. This is understandable – sharing a workspace is great for company culture, and sometimes remote substitutions just aren’t the same. But those companies have often seen those intentions complicated by reality. Not everyone feels safe going back to the office. Some people have gotten a taste of the WFH life, love it, and won’t want to give it up without a fight.

Companies will have to navigate these competing desires and priorities when the time comes.

Celebrate the small wins

Our partners tell us they’re making a point of celebrating the small wins to keep up morale during this tough time. This could be things like cleaning up the data in Salesforce or updating the templates in SalesLoft or Outreach to reflect new messaging.

It’s time to get creative

With the economy constricting, it can be harder for SDRs and AEs to get in touch with potential buyers. As a result, reps at some of our partner companies are getting creative. One interesting example of this is the use of video prospecting. SDRs create a video of themselves giving their pitch, and sending that to prospects instead of a cold call. This way, prospects can hear the rep’s voice, see their face, and have a more human connection. After all, that’s what a lot of people are craving right now.

Are we going back to the office?

As the business world settles into remote work, many are wondering how long this shift will last. It seems almost certain that at least some companies will continue to rely more heavily on remote work even after the pandemic ends – the only question is, how many, and to what degree? This is the time to make sure you have a handle on best practices for remote interviewing and working – you might be doing it for a while.

Signs of a possible hiring thaw?

We don’t want to give false hope, so let’s be clear: Hiring has slowed down significantly, and we expect it to remain slow for the foreseeable future. But there are signs that the initial mass hiring freezes we saw in March might have been something of an overcompensation for the spread of the coronavirus, and that some companies are now calibrating back toward the middle by slightly loosening their hiring restrictions. Last week, five of our partner companies – all of whom had been on a hiring freeze – started looking for new talent again. Several more have told us they’re planning to start poking their heads out of hibernation and hire for some new roles in May.

There’s hope out there, both for companies hoping to grow and professionals looking for new roles.

The pandemic has forced some overdue decisions

A lot of companies have needed to make some changes for a long time now, and have found that this pandemic is as good a reason as any to give themselves a much-needed makeover. This goes beyond layoffs and staffing efficiency. Companies are making other changes, too, like ending relationships with vendors that haven’t added much value for a while. The hope is that this is a palette-cleanser that allows leaders to build a stronger, more upgraded company once things pick up again.

People are acting – or failing to act – based on some misguided assumptions.

We’ve encountered a number of people who were actively seeking their next opportunity at the beginning of this year, but stopped once COVID-19 became a pandemic. The reason? They assume no one is hiring, or that they might get hired for a new role only to get laid off a few weeks later. Frankly, this is an understandable assumption – but it’s still a misguided one. There are still lots of companies that are hiring and growing. Don’t stay in a job you don’t like based on the false assumption that there are no opportunities out there!

Companies are restructuring – in more ways than one.

The buzz has mostly been centered around layoffs, hiring slowdowns, and shifts to WFH. But that’s not the only way companies are shifting their operations in response to the virus. Some companies are moving employees around and blending functionalities and job descriptions. This can enable companies to keep more people and mitigate the need for layoffs. One of our partners, for example, are moving some of their Account Executives into Business Development.

An unexpected trend at the Executive level

Given the impact of the virus on the economy, you’d think most people would jump at just about any decent job opportunity. Indeed, many are. But companies that are still hiring are finding that, at the executive level, it’s hard to fill roles. Executives are reluctant to leave their current companies – even if they have an offer somewhere else. This could be out of a sense of loyalty, or the feeling that they have more job security at their current company than they would at a new one. After all, when layoffs happen, recently-hired employees are often the first to go.

Trying to predict what’s going to happen? Good luck.

In mid to late March, the hiring landscape in education software was seeing practically no change. Now, though, according to regular tracking by Candor, the industry is seeing significant layoffs and hiring freezes. This is counterintuitive: as school closures have gone from short-term to long-term, you’d think ed tech would see a boost. It just goes to show how unpredictable the current changes are, at the end of the day.

Job hunting is becoming a more human-centric process.

This entire experience has made us all a bit more vulnerable. This has become evident in the recruiting and hiring process. People are not only more open to recruiter outreach, they’re sharing more of their personalities and taking a more social tone in job interviews. Many are even opening up about their anxieties around the whole thing. Whether this is a result of people feeling isolated, stressed, or both, it can help applicants and prospective employers connect and better determine culture fit.

On the job market? Things aren’t as bad as you think.

People on the job market are, understandably, nervous. The professionals in our network are largely assuming hiring has dried up, and are looking to us for guidance. LinkedIn feeds are flooded with posts about a presumed industry-wide hiring freeze. 

The good news is that this isn’t entirely true. Yes, the job market is constricting. But modern technology has made working from home easier than ever. As a result, lots of companies are still hiring. Some are hiring at an even faster rate than they were before the pandemic. So let us state clearly: Things are hard, but don’t panic! There are still opportunities for those looking to advance their careers, or who have been laid off.

Your interview might have been put on hold. But it might not be permanent.

All across the country, there are people who were interviewing for a role when the outbreak became a pandemic, causing the interview process to freeze. Many of these people undoubtedly assume the role has been pulled – and the truth is that, in some cases, this reading is correct. But not always. In many cases, it’s just a temporary pause as companies devote all their resources to stabilizing their business and adapting. There’s a good chance the role will stay open and that you’ll hear from the company again in a few weeks to continue the process. It bears repeating: Don’t panic!

Pausing your interview process? Keep your candidates warm through regular communication.

An interview pause creates considerations for hiring companies as well. If you expect the pause to be temporary, it’s essential to make your interviewees aware of that. The last thing you want is for a great candidate to assume you’ve pulled the role and take an offer from a competitor, leaving you kicking yourself. Keep a regular communication cadence. Ping your candidates every couple of days to keep them updated on when you expect you’ll be able to continue the interview process.

The talent market is full of laid-off professionals. That’s not a bad thing.

Don’t assume that the talent flooding the market is low-quality – even if they’re people who have been laid off. Some of them, yes, are bottom-performers who have been cut. But some are great reps whose company shut down, or who were subject to forced layoffs that had nothing to do with merit. These people are nothing to fear. To the contrary, they might be just what you need to help your company succeed in uncertain times.

In health tech, food delivery, or media? This is your time.

We’ve been in close communication with our VC partners, who tell us that about 20% of their portfolio is not only weathering the storm, but actually excelling during this time. Not surprisingly, this 20% consists largely of companies in the health technology, food delivery, and media sectors. For these industries, the current public health challenge and reduced mobility have created enormous demand.

Once the dust settles, rebuilding your team could be your biggest, most intensive task.

The companies and industries who make it through this are going to need recruiting support more than ever to navigate a transformed talent landscape and grow their teams. Specific challenges will include volume hiring, finding the right candidates in a bigger-than-ever candidate market, and more.