‘In the current circumstances….’

These words are appearing frequently and there is no denying that 2020 is proving to be a difficult year.

As an early careers specialist, you dread being told to put everything on hold.

I have been in this space for so long that I was around when the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) hit Australia just over a decade ago. Obviously not the same situation, but it does feel very similar. For example, there is uncertainty about how long things will be different, what the economic impact is on the organization I work for, what does it mean for my job?

It is times like these that I sometimes feel as though my role is not as important as others. I mean, what immediate impact am I making on society right now? My purpose is challenged.  

However, I know continuing what I am working on right now is how I stay connected to my purpose. My expertise in the graduate recruitment and development space is what I was employed for and how I add value to my organization. 

Having been though the GFC and come out the other side, I know these feelings are temporary.

There are two main reasons why I strongly encourage organisations to continue with their early careers campaigns despite the challenges:

1.      Hope: continuing with recruitment (even if less than previously planned) gives students hope that there is something positive to look forward to in their future.  It also shows students and your current graduates that your organization is robust and able to manage different challenges (it creates a sense of safety and trust).

2.      Recovery: when our communities and our businesses start to get back on track, your organisation will be ready to react. There won’t be a need to re-establish your brand in the market or scramble to quickly find the talent that you need.

Remember, early careers programs are a long game (a marathon not a sprint).  Success builds over time, but can easily be lost if you disappear from the market.

I saw so many organisations during the GFC cancel graduate recruitment rather than just reduce numbers. Once they started to recover, it took them years to get their brand awareness back.  Students take note of how organisations react in these situations, and it can take a while to earn back their trust.

So not only is it good for us, but it is also good for our organization to continue where possible. If you do however find yourself in a position where you need to cancel or postpone your campaign, then you really need to deploy an alternative engagement strategy. For example, providing virtual internships would be a great way for students to interact with your organisation right now.

Lastly, what I have noticed and what I love right now is everyone’s outlook on the challenges we face to continue hiring. It is not a matter of ‘we can’t do that’, but ‘how can we do this differently’!

To my colleagues and friends in the industry, whatever position you find yourself in, don’t forget there is a whole community out there ready to support you and help you through it.