Recruitment specialist Tanya Abbey, co-founder of Gold Coast-headquartered Black Wolf Group, explained that downturns are never uniform. Currently, across Australia some industries are witnessing surging demand for their products and services just as others are struggling to survive.
She told My Business that Black Wolf Group has witnessed a huge uptick in clients seeking help to recruit significant numbers of people, and is having to increase her own workforce to accommodate this extra demand.
Multiple sectors embark on recruitment spree
“If we look at the news generally today, we have Qantas and Virgin Australia, due to safety concerns and obviously a drop in sales, standing their staff down,” Ms Abbey said.
“That compares with the surging demand for food, home delivery and takeaway as well as transport logistics. Plus, medical and aged care are also obviously really busy.”
However, it also brings up less obvious demand, she noted.
“Think about all the companies that support those operations: that includes call centres to access those services, it includes the companies that supply takeaway food containers and their warehouses.
“Also, IT is very big at the moment, as people are trying to adapt fast enough and they need strong systems — so there is a big need for developers, IT architects, designers and so on.”
Employers of all size scaling up
While Woolworths made headlines announcing that it would take on some 20,000 extra workers to cope with stock replenishment and home delivery volumes, Ms Abbey has seen considerably smaller businesses also looking to fill newly created jobs.
She noted that many cleaning and construction businesses are currently hiring, as other employers look to capitalise on their teams being temporarily stood down or working from home.
“There is a great opportunity for every single business and building to get their offices and buildings professionally cleaned, right down to the letter A on your keyboard. So, commercial cleaning is a very busy industry at the moment,” Ms Abbey said.
“We deal with a client locally — Builders World on the Gold Coast — who have people buying lots of DIY materials, because they’re saying ‘if we get locked down, we want all these materials so that we can renovate our house while we’ll actually have the time to do it’.
“There’s also a company that we work with in Brisbane that deals with shop fit-outs, and they actually are seeing a ramp-up for people wanting to do shop fit-outs while stores are closed.”
Unprecedented employer co-operation amid layoffs
Ms Abbey said that it has been heartening to see employers working with one another to find temporary work options for employees that have been stood down, proving that we really are “all in this together”.
“You have these awesome companies coming together, like Qantas and BHP, with one saying to the other, ‘I will look after your staff right now and we believe they have transferable skills’,” she said.
Similarly, club operator Mounties Group has been forced to stand down most of its workers after the government ordered all venues to shut their doors.
It, too, Ms Abbey said, has proactively taken to engaging with partners, suppliers and other employers to find short-term work for its people so that they may weather the downturn and return once venues can resume trading.
Advice for employers upsizing their teams
For employers who suddenly find themselves faced with a need to take on more workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms Abbey advised that a bit of preparation can make a world of difference.
“Make sure that your HR team is aware that they’re going to receive a big influx of applications,” she said.
“They need to make sure that they are taking the time to respond to people, whether that’s by email or LinkedIn etc.”
Internal HR/recruitment teams may also need temporary assistance to cope with this sudden influx, meaning staff may need to be seconded from elsewhere in the business to cope with the surge of applications being received and candidates being interviewed.
Ms Abbey also suggested that employers consider giving their employees the tools and guidance about how they can upskill during their time away from work.
Help for workers being stood down
On the flip side, Ms Abbey said there are things employees themselves can do.
- Call to register with Centrelink for financial assistance as soon as possible after you are stood down.
- Keep yourself busy to protect your mental health and wellbeing; reach out to appropriate organisations.
- Consider voluntary roles: they will positively impact your community, but can also keep your skills fresh or help you develop more transferable skills.
- Do a full audit of your social media profiles — “employers will check this”.
- Seek out free tools to help with your job search.
- Target which jobs you apply for and then follow up with them, rather than apply en masse and hope for a response.
- Ask recruiters/HR teams for feedback, and use this to improve.