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Natasha Symonds | 18 March 2020

Keep Calm and Carry On - Tips for Employers and Job Seekers

This phrase seems very fitting, given that it was originally created as a British motivational poster in 1939 in preparation for World War 2.

We are in the midst of a war of sorts, and “don’t panic” is the message coming through loud and clear at this time of unprecedented global disruption. Covid-19 is unfortunately here to stay for the foreseeable future, and all businesses and industries will be affected to a greater or lesser degree.

So how do we navigate this new climate, and what does it mean for job seekers and employers over the coming months? Top economists are reporting that a global recession has already arrived, and at the very least it is inevitable; but is it all doom and gloom and what are the opportunities in times of recession?


While we can’t predict the severity or duration of the recession, the NZ Governments $12.1b support package focusing largely on businesses, should hopefully prevent a significant number of job losses for those most affected. Even in a recession there are opportunities, and businesses within less impacted industries should consider both preparing for the recovery when it happens, and how they can benefit. If you are in this fortunate position, then you currently have a window to snap up good talent – particularly in those skills short sectors. Things to consider:

  • Take advantage of less job opportunities in the market, and snap up good talent now
  • Consider investing in market mapping and pipelining talent in preparation for the recovery
  • Have a plan to proactively tap into the returning expat market (note the call for Kiwi’s to return home)
  • Be prepared to spend more time negotiating a potential offer with candidates, and have information at the ready to provide a sense of comfort around your business stability
  • Ensure you can offer an enticing Value Proposition to candidates – you might need to be flexible with benefits (additional paid sick leave / extra special leave etc)
  • Ensure you are tech enabled in order to interview via vid con
  • Work with trusted recruitment partners who can offer you a complete service (market mapping etc) and a flexible cost model

Job Seekers

During the last recession, while the availability of new roles based on projected growth slowed, businesses continued to recruit. Yes, it’s possible that there will be a slow down on the availability of new jobs, however that said – businesses will still hire. At times of recession things slow down (not stop!), and people tend to ‘sit tight’, whether that’s on property – or looking for new jobs. While there will surely be some job losses, in certain industries there will be some fantastic opportunities. Within the least affected and skills-short industries, it’s highly likely as a job seeker you will have less competition over the coming months. You may also hold more negotiating power, whether that’s related to salary, career prospects or flexibility. For those who are facing unemployment, there may still be opportunities if you can be flexible. Things to consider:

  • If you were already considering looking for a new role, don’t let the current economic climate deter you – be confident enough to explore new opportunities
  • If your industry is highly affected, look outside the square and consider your transferable skills – be flexible
  • Ensure any prospective employer can fully communicate their plan around Covid-19 (remote working, sick leave / compensation etc)
  • Do your research into the financial health of any prospective employer – ensure they can provide some data to back this up

So while it might feel confronting in the market at the moment, remember there are also opportunities to be found, even in the darkest days.