Recruiting After Covid-19? Search for Talent With These Skills

The coronavirus pandemic has forced organizations to make tough decisions about what talent is most critical to their business operations, and has resulted in more than 41 million Americans filing for unemployment. Yet while many companies have had to furlough and lay off employees, others have actually increased hiring and are searching for workers to keep pace with changing business demands as a result of Covid-19. For companies navigating recruitment in a post-pandemic economy, it is critical that human capital leaders identify the skills their organization needs most and focus on engaging with candidates who possess those skills.

To help companies understand the current skills and employment market, Randstad Sourceright analyzed the most in-demand skills across six job families and how they have been impacted by the coronavirus:

Customer service. If organizations are looking to hire customer service professionals, there is an abundance of top talent currently on the market. With a drop in hiring demand of 47% from March to April, customer service was the job family hardest hit by Covid-19. This is understandable given how many retail stores were forced to close during the pandemic coupled with the dramatic decrease in production in the automotive, manufacturing and technology sectors, all of which employ a variety of customer service specialists.

Despite the overall drop in demand for customer service professionals, there was a 38% increase in demand for retail assistant store managers, particularly for candidates who possess excellent scheduling and management skills. This can be attributed to both the need for essential businesses to ensure that customers received their groceries and other critical items purchased both in-store and online and new protocols involving increased sanitation and social distancing guidelines.

As more retail locations reopen, this surge in demand should continue. Because the demand for these skills is high across several sectors, in order to secure top tier talent, employers must be sure to effectively communicate to candidates the safety measures they are taking to protect employees’ health in job postings.

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Financial services. The financial services job family was also hit hard by the pandemic, experiencing a 34% decrease in demand across most roles in the sector. However, financial consultants and insurance underwriters actually spiked in demand by more than 50%, driven largely by Fidelity’s ramp-up in hiring for consultants and increased mortgage refinancing to take advantage of low interest rates.

Other roles that are most in demand include accountants, financial analysts and controllers, and the most in demand skills in this job family are accounting and budgeting, followed by experience in financial analysis and account reconciliation. Like other job families, competition for these skillsets may be particularly high in the financial services, pharma and retail sectors.

Pharma R&D. Demand for pharma research and development positions experienced just a 17% drop, the smallest of all job families in the report. With more than 130 clinical trials of Covid-19 related drugs underway, pharmaceutical companies are actively searching for clinical trial managers and research associates, resulting in a 40% and 50% increase in demand for those positions respectively, despite a modest drop in demand across the sector overall.

Workers in this job family represent a niche talent group with highly specialized skills. In particular, our analysis found companies are looking for researchers with strong chemistry and biology experience. Because of a shortage of talent with this expertise and skillsets, pharmaceutical companies will face tough competition for candidates and must increase recruitment activities while highlighting safety measures.

Sales. Similar to customer service roles, demand for sales positions has decreased by 34% during the pandemic, and data suggests demand for sales professionals will not increase in the coming months. While the drop in hiring for sales positions has been minor in some essential sectors – such as cashiers – it is not enough to offset the drop in demand in non-essential businesses.

Conversely, as lockdowns are lifted, companies will need their sales forces to cater to surging consumer demand as people return to retail stores, and employers will look for candidates who have experience and skills in retail and outside sales. While hiring has slowed, there is still competition in the sectors who are looking to acquire talent, including companies in the pharmaceutical, manufacturing and retail sectors.

The coronavirus has drastically changed the world of work. Ultimately, the organizations that are laser-focused on identifying the skills most needed in their company – now and in the future – and are able to target and acquire talent with those skills, will be best positioned to succeed in the new normal of the post-pandemic economy.

Sue Marcus

Sue Marcus
Sue Marcus is the regional president of recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) and managed services programs (MSP) for Randstad Sourceright in the United States.

Sue Marcus

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