During the current crisis we at Henley have spoken to many of our clients and the way COVID-19 has impacted them varies massively.  At one end of the spectrum, there are search firms we work with who have no work and corporate clients with blanket hiring freezes. At the other end, some of our clients are busier than ever, and, happily, continuing to invest in our services.

For many companies, the crisis has had a huge financial impact and we fully understand that, for the time being, recruitment activities are on hold. However, for those companies lucky enough not to be so badly affected (for example pharmaceuticals, life sciences, consumer healthcare, fmcg, food retail, logistics and distribution), there are a lot of reasons why executive searches, talent mapping and talent pipelining exercises should continue:

  1. On average from commencement of a search to a senior level candidate starting a job can take 5-6 months (assuming a three-month notice period). A placement resulting from a search starting now will therefore not happen until September or October. Putting an important search on hold now for say 2-3 months will only push that start date back towards Christmas or the New Year.
  2. In most cases, with many executives working from home at least for the time being, we are finding it is actually easier to have conversations with potential candidates than ever before.
  3. The best, market-leading companies are carrying on pursuing their medium-term to long-term strategies and using this time to get ahead of the competition in securing the best executive talent.
  4. Where there may be reluctance to invest in permanent executive staff in the short-term, appointing interims may well be judicious, and we can help with that.
  5. Mapping now is a great investment, even if companies don’t want to reach out to potential candidates until they are certain they have a role to fill.
  6. Talent Pipelining is very much to the fore: time in the next 2-3 months can be used to develop meaningful dialogues with candidates for future roles so that no time is lost when the crisis has passed through and vacancies need to be filled.
  7. Approaching potential candidates in the right way now will be seen as a real positive: firstly it demonstrates a pro-active approach to building a relationship with a candidate (even if there is no vacant role now), and secondly it shows the confidence our client has in its own business in the medium- to long-term.
  8. Different parts of the world are entering into dealing with the virus and emerging from it at different times. For example, China other parts of Asia are weeks and months ahead of Europe and the US. This means there are different opportunities in different geographies – AsiaPac may offer some strong opportunities sooner rather than later. In fact, since the beginning of March 2020 we have started work on new assignments for roles based in the USA, Japan, UK, South Africa, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, France, Finland, Spain, Portugal, UAE, Italy and the Czech Republic.

Many companies are demonstrably not in a position to be pro-active in this way, but, for those who can, investing in the acquisition of senior level talent now looks to be a shrewd strategy, whichever sector they are in.