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8 days ago by Maura O'Hea

The demand for talent is as strong as ever during Covid-19

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There has long been a demand for talent. And that demand is here to stay.

That may be surprising news, considering the devastation Covid-19 has wreaked on the economy. While the lockdown has been necessary to help minimise the infections and fatalities relating to the pandemic, Ireland’s businesses and workers have suffered enormously. Ireland’s unemployment rate makes for alarming reading.

It follows that there’s now a much bigger number of workers on the market looking for jobs.

That’s true, there is. But it doesn’t mean that the talent battleground is any less intense than it always was.

Every business has their eye on the recovery

We’re still in the lockdown at the time of writing this post, but slowly the restrictions are starting to lift.

The authorities have the immensely difficult task of having to manage a public health crisis alongside an economic one. However, they don’t have the luxury of choosing to prioritise one over the other. No doubt that scenario would be as devastating as the lockdown, but at least it would simplify things.

No, inherent in the many challenges Covid-19 has thrown up is how people’s health and the economy are deeply linked.

Getting the economy back up and running is critical. And businesses are the frontline in this case.

There’s a broad realisation that while the lockdown is/was intensely difficult, the recovery will be where the hard work kick in. Different industry bodies are currently in talks to identify what government support schemes would be needed to help businesses get back up and running, but the road ahead is widely understood to be a tough one.

One of the key ways businesses will negotiate this difficult time is through their people. Recruiting top talent will be as essential as it always was.

Yes, many companies have implemented hiring freezes at the moment.

However, we’re also starting to see the media report on companies that are actively recruiting right now. We wrote in March of how some industries are booming right now. There are industries that are on a massive land grab for talent as Covid-19 and the lockdown propels them through huge growth phases. We’re currently recruiting for a variety of positions for our clients, and working closely with them on their hiring and onboarding processes. Our jobs page can be found here.

Businesses are building out their recovery roadmaps in the face of many unknowns. That said, having highly skilled and engaged employees is a proven strategy for building a robust and strong business. That’s the kind of “known” every business needs right now. Therefore, the fight for top talent is still strong.

Businesses have changed and their workforce needs to too

It’s the understatement of the year to say that we find ourselves in a vastly different reality to the one we were in just a few short months ago. Nonetheless, it is true.

Businesses that were trading well up until the lockdown was announced had little need to question their marketing, business development, operational or sales activities. Of course, it makes smart business sense to frequently evaluate and measure how you do business. But if a business had found a model that worked for them, and contributed to the organisation’s growth, then there was no fault in not tinkering with that.

Well, Covid-19 has upended business models at a rate of knots. It’s a fact that we might not even yet have a full picture of just how deeply the pandemic’s impact has been. While we’re all feeling its immediate impact, there’s widespread understanding that Covid-19’s effect could be felt for generations.

And right now, businesses are looking at a vastly different trading landscape than they were at the beginning of March.

That means that their plans have to change. And by default, the resources they need to implement these new plans need to change too.

People with skills in cybersecurity, change management, software development, data science, cloud and infrastructure, will be of particular interest to companies hiring right now. Just as they always were.

Digital transformation just got real

“Digital transformation” is not a new trend. Strictly speaking, trend is not the right word to use. Organisations have been talking about how they adapt for years to a mobile-first environment.

However, although there have been some excellent examples of digital transformation, many companies have floundered. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to plug into a business to ensure it implements a sound digital transformation roadmap, and this lack of clarity has ensured websites and chatbots get built, but digital transformation doesn’t really get “done” properly.

Well, not anymore.

Digital transformation has always been about a mindset to serve customers better. While technology tools have undoubtedly been a part of delivering this, too many organisations got caught up in building sites and apps and forgot to build their digital strategy from the customer’s perspective.

Covid-19 is changing all of that. In fact, the pandemic could be the factor that gets the world’s organisations to scale digital transformation practices - and do them well.

Quite frankly, the future of work began in March 2020 for Ireland.

Things have got simple quickly for businesses. Whereas before digital transformation was treated seriously as a priority business needed to dedicate some time to, Covid-19 suddenly changed the game.

With in-person contact at first severely curtailed, and most likely significantly restricted for some time to come, engaging with your customers digitally becomes the only way to stay in business.

We’ve seen remarkable innovation in how companies, large and small, are adapting, at massive speed, to the challenges set in motion by lockdown. Suddenly the customer is central to how businesses are reaching them and nurturing them through digital means.

Of course, there’s a process of trial and error involved. No company can claim to get digital transformation “right” immediately. However, by truly placing your customers at the core of how you operate, you won’t go far wrong in developing this critical future-proofing strategy.

Individuals who understand how to navigate this new terrain, and implement digital transformation plans that help businesses thrive, will be at the top of the wishlist for any organisation. Expect a fight for this talent.

Covid-19 is not going anywhere

A vaccine will be found at some point, but it’s a good bet that this virus is here to stay.

Certainly it is for now, in the immediate aftermath of the lockdown starting to be eased. Individuals and organisations alike need to adapt to this reality. We see lots of evidence that Ireland as a whole is adapting,

Businesses have always understood the value of top talent. That hasn’t changed, even though just about everything else has.