Here’s What’s Been Going on at ESP Since March…
Since March, our MD & Founder, Paul Thomson has shared a rundown of how the weeks at ESP have gone with his LinkedIn network.
The weeks at ESP (in Paul’s words) have gone from crazy, to crazier, to mad, to scary, to bananas, to BONKERS, to BARMY (these are getting better), to LOOPY, to problematic, to HUGELY uplifting (yay!), back to testing (oh no), to tricky, and BACK to uplifting. What a rollercoaster!
Yes, the technology industry has fared well in the face of the pandemic compared to other areas. Typically, technology companies are better prepared for remote working and overall, have managed to weather the storm more so than others. So, as a company that finds talent for technology companies this should equate to us continuing BAU, but this is anything but the case.
Let’s take a look at the ‘uplifting’, the ‘mad’, and the ‘barmy’…
Back at the start, 75% of our clients were pressing ahead with their hiring plans.
At this time, all of our team were working from home for the first time. Ironing boards as desk and all. Many of the team had started to discover the beauty of working from home – having longer and more in depth conversations with clients!
Then a couple weeks down the line, the furloughing began. While most job offers were still going through, new vacancies had started to dry up. However, we started getting creative with our content output with virtual meet ups, new takes on blog posts and forming peer groups. Necessity breeds innovation!
Horror story time: A large software vendor retracted their offer after the candidate had handed in their notice.
Due to more recruitment processes being paused, more and more staff members went on furlough. While this doesn’t do much for team morale, the greater good far outweighs that. We might not all be here today without the scheme! Paul ensured to keep in touch with all furloughed staff members and a weekly meeting was held to keep everyone up to date.
Another recruitment horror story: invoices not being paid on time, or sometimes at all! Of course, this is disappointing but on the other hand, some companies recognised that ESP is a small business and were happy to support us by paying invoices quickly (as we’ve supported them by sorting them out with world class candidates!)
The team kept spirits high by watching Glengarry Glen Ross, cooked a risotto together and had a virtual drink together at ESP Arms. Also, to further support the business, the team made sacrifices such as using their annual leave during furlough.
In April, we unfortunately finished at 33% our revenue from the same period last year. On a positive note, a company who had put headcount on hold indefinitely 2 weeks prior got in touch out of the blue and pushed ahead with interviews and hired a great senior candidate!
It’s no surprise that in this time, a lot of the team started to experience a dip in their mental wellbeing. Personally, it’s a tough time and being honest and open about mental health is increasingly important. Professionally, recruitment can be setback after setback. For one win, there’s two losses. This isn’t the case most of the time, but it can be incredibly disheartening. Paul wrote: “Our team is moving mountains to keep us going forward and get our whole crew back together. Thank you to everyone because it’s so tough mentally and special shout out to Alice arranging 5 interviews on her day off.”
As the weeks went on, small nuggets of positivity were coming forward. On the other hand, in the space of a month we had 10 mid-senior level jobs verbally offered and accepted but the paperwork was stuck in the mud. This was massively frustrating for both parties.
Several team members got back in the office! This gave everyone the lift they needed, who thought we’d miss being back in the office?!
Our revenue in May was 45% of what it was in May last year – while this is drastically lower, it’s still 12% higher than it was in April. Also, two businesses were able to make job offers are freezing their recruitment in April. Amazing result!
*whispers* A few interviews went ahead face to face!
A massive positive – we took a gamble and invited two members of the team back off furlough! Job openings were still dry but there is no reward without risk.
The team remained strong despite the market being flat in April and May – we will always bounce back!
To the delight of our team and our candidates, headcounts are reopening as companies adapt to this new normal. The number of companies struggling seem to be getting lower and Paul saw and heard business confidence starting to grow.
More customers are starting to meet in person!
Fantastic news – 5 more team members returned from furlough! Thanks to the unquivering motivation, resilience, and hard work of the team, we were able to invite them back sooner than we expected. The market is gathering momentum!
Unfortunately, we did lose 3 employees to redundancy and resignation. This is a huge shame and it’s always sad to lose a member of the team. However, we know that they’ll go on to do amazing things!
Some amazing news about the market – we took on 15 new vacancies in a week! That’s more than our pre lockdown average AND 3 times as many as our weekly June average.
“Something good ALWAYS comes from something bad so focus on where you want to be in 12 months and chill about what’s happening now. Things are never as bad as they seem.”
After furloughing 17 of our fantastic team, by the end of August we had the whole gang back together which is AMAZING!
The IT market is recovering well and it’s clear that the availability of hugely talented candidates is higher than usual. Businesses are rightly taking advantage of that.
In August we sadly lost another employee.
Vacancies were down by a whopping 90% in April and by August they were thankfully back to normal by 80%. We are at 78% of our revenue for 2019 which considering everything is pretty good going!
While the whole team was officially back off furlough, many started on part time furlough to ensure that they had enough work for them to do as well as easing people back in to working full time.
We all know the tragic outcomes of this pandemic. One week, Paul focused on the positives. Many are exercising more and eating healthier, more businesses have been founded than ever, and achieving a healthy work/life balance is easier when WFH.
“There is always light at the end of the tunnel”
In comes the second wave! With most of the team coming to the office on some days (working on a rota to allow for minimal contact), this news was not welcomed. Especially for the junior team members, it’s hard to work effectively from home in such a collaborative job. This certainly caused a feeling of uncertainty throughout the team but of course, spirits remained high.
In other AMAZING news, we welcomed a new Senior Recruiter, Aqsa, to the team! It’s incredibly uplifting to bring in someone new to the team. On another uplifting note, Nathan, the head of our Cyber Security division, became a dad!
The team has not slowed down at all in the face of the second wave. Of course, there’s been some bumps in the road including a good prospect resigning and one of our clients recovering from Covid. We’ve found that many companies are trying to keep their recruitment in-house and while this can work for some positions, this will not work as effectively as going with a recruitment agency when recruiting for more specialised and senior roles. ESP are experts at finding the best kind of candidates – passive! Candidates that have the right skillset and aren’t actively looking are like finding a needle in a haystack in this current job market, luckily team ESP are amazing metal detectors.