Redundancy and finding a new role

I was going through some old notes I had written earlier this year, and found a list with my new years’ resolutions for 2020. My resolutions included getting a promotion at work, which included leading in-house recruitment efforts, more autonomy and overall fulfilment at work.

I had abandoned all of my 2020 goals by May due to redundancy at my previous company and thought about stopping with goal-setting altogether. I mean, what’s the point of setting goals if a pandemic can come in and take it all away? Well, the last few weeks taught me that you can always achieve your goals, even at the last minute, no matter how hard the circumstances.

Covid

I’m not sure if things changed for me due to luck, skills, or a combination of both, but here’s my attempt at explaining how I found a job during a pandemic!

Like most internal recruiters, I came from an agency background where I wasn’t happy. At my first agency, an executive search firm, I was a resourcer. I started in May 2017, and I did ok, but I was made redundant after nine months.

At my second agency, I did terribly and left. I was not incredibly talented at the sales side of recruitment, so I hardly achieved anything. What motivated me to leave was agency culture: It’s common in agencies to lie to candidates or clients, and top performers would often abuse their positions by bullying colleagues.

So I decided to transition into in-house recruitment by joining what you can arguably call an RPO. I was in a good position with a great company. This company operates an on-site, subscription-based recruitment model where recruiters go to clients and become internal consultants for six to twelve months.

It wasn’t perfect, but I was doing what I loved: working with startups, setting hiring processes and recruiting fantastic talent. I was learning loads by recruiting for different roles and engaging with all types of hiring managers. I was also participating in pieces of training, and even delivering a few trainings myself.

The best part of being in this company was my colleagues, who were a lovely bunch of talent partners that were smart and always there to help. We were based near Old Street station. This is definitely the place to be with amazing bars in the area to go to after work.

Then, in March, Covid hit, and we all went remote. Honestly, I wasn’t too concerned about my job. I was performing really well that quarter and had – in my opinion – a great relationship with my company. In mid-May, I went on furlough. Ok, maybe I can panic a little bit, but nothing serious. I mean, this pandemic thing is just some random flu and will go away with time. Shortly after my company at the time announced that a redundancy process would be taking place.

Again, I thought I was going to be the exception. That’s not going to happen to me, right? And in mid-July, I was told I would be made redundant.

When I got the news

Being made redundant was a shock: all along I was staying positive, telling myself that I’m good enough, that I’ve achieved enough, that I’m talented, and now for the second time in my recruitment career I’m being made redundant in the worst possible economy.

The first thing to do, of course, was to update my CV. It’s funny: I’m a recruiter, so you would expect I’d be good at this, but initially, my CV looked awful. I was fortunate to have valuable contacts that were willing to take a look at my CV, suggest improvements and give me advice on how to pass interviews. Also, I started looking for a new role in mid-July, and my final workday was in mid-August, so I also had what I thought was enough time to find a job.

I started applying for jobs, but there were barely any to apply to. The roles that were out there had at least 200 and sometimes even 800 applications. Yes, I’m talking about that Tiktok talent acquisition manager role. Overall I managed to send at least one application a day, which led to perhaps one or two interviews a week.

I went through loads of rejections, with most interviewers not providing feedback. I would later notice the companies would hire recruiters with three times my years’ experience. Rumours started circulating that recruiters were willing to take ten or 20k pay cuts to get hired, which removed any dreams I had of getting a raise in the middle of a pandemic.

It’s tricky

I started to realise something that made it difficult for me to fit in with a company: my startup experience made me attractive to startups, but I would then get rejected due to a lack of seniority. On the other hand, my years’ experience was appealing to scale-ups or enterprise-level companies.

Still, since I didn’t have a background in volume hiring, I would then get rejected by these companies.

And then one day I got a message from a LinkedIn contact which quite surprised me. It was from an engineering manager, and he was asking me if I was interested in speaking with him about a recruitment role. The role was for a young startup that makes mortgage lending easier for first-time buyers.

I had a first stage discussion with the hiring manager, which went quite well. A few days later, the company messaged me saying that they had a candidate accept an offer they made. So I guess that was it! I thanked them for everything and was ready to move on with my life. Later that day, they came back saying that their initial candidate retracted their offer-accept and that they were keen on continuing the interview process with me. After a few rounds, they made me an offer which I accepted.

That process was with a company called Generation Home.

So now I’m recruiting again, and it’s been a crazy 20 days so far! Before I was working internally through an RPO, but now I’m entirely internal, which means a closer relationship with the company and hiring managers in my team. Everyone in the company is committed to the company mission and have particular backgrounds in mind when looking for profiles, so I also need to develop a more robust cultural alignment with my hiring managers.

Generation Home!

I have been working on tech recruitment hiring developers. So far, I’ve mainly used Hired as a tool. The challenge with this tool is that everyone there is actively looking and in other interview processes, so I’ll need to balance my pipeline with passive candidates. I’ve been bringing in about 10 tech CVs a week, and booking around eight to 10 interviews, so in terms of volume, I’m not doing too bad!

We have a high hiring bar, and a lot of developers fail our coding challenge, but I’m optimistic we’ll find the right people. I’ve been writing job descriptions, and slowly updating our recruitment process. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be working on non-technical roles which include an executive assistant, a mortgage advisor, and a customer champion. We’ll also be revamping our onboarding process. These are areas that I don’t have much experience in, but I’m keen to pick these tasks up and learn how to do them correctly.

Also – and I’m sure every internal recruiter listening to this will appreciate what I’m about to say – but we just got an ATS! We decided to bring in Workable due to its ease of use, the metrics you get out of it, and the people search function. This will help us smoothen out our hiring processes, learn from our mistakes, and improve our quality of hires. We’re also exploring the use of referrals. I don’t think we’ll create a referral programme, though.

The team feels that employees sure refer people not because there’s a reward to be gained, but because we’re a good company to work for. I would have hoped for a non-monetary reward to create excitement for referrals, but that’s not an option. I don’t think it will be necessary though – my colleagues have been more than happy to provide me with names of talented individuals that could be a great fit for us.

I was going somewhere with this. Oh yeah, promotions and new years’ resolutions. The role I found during the pandemic fits perfectly well with my career ambitions earlier this year.I just thought it’s funny that it took a global pandemic to get me to where I am! I would like to thank Petru, Andre, Peter, Sophia, Erik and Will for this amazing opportunity.

Also, Generation Home reached out to me because I was referred by someone close to my previous company. Whoever you are, I just want to say thank you.

One of the goals for this year was to start a podcast—apologies for not putting out an episode last week. I need to adjust to my new schedule, but the podcast will definitely continue.

If you’re worried about what you want to achieve for 2021, then remember that sometimes challenges can also turn into opportunities to succeed. Just keep working hard, and you’ll get there.

Thanks again and stay safe.

Published by José Marchena

Hi, I'm Jose Marchena I’m a London-based internal recruiter, host of the Coffee with a Recruiter podcast and occasional blogger. I use this website to explore insights on recruitment, productivity and self-development.

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