The Impact Of Coronavirus On Recruitment In The Travel Industry
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Depending on where you get your data from you will see that jobs in the travel industry have recently fallen.  By as much as 60-85% across the UK, as coronavirus lockdown measures force people to stay at home. Yahoo Finance reports estimate a 61% reduction in job vacancies, while the major UK job boards paint a more accurate and far gloomier picture.

Unsurprisingly, the pandemic is having massive ramifications across the travel industry, which in turn affects the recruitment industry. Businesses and recruiters are quickly finding themselves having to adapt to how they operate. As they prepare for changes that may end up being permanent.


Dramatic drop in vacancies

The latest job board data details just how dramatically recruitment has dropped in the UK across all industries. As firms stop hiring in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. In particular, recruitment in the travel industry is down by more than 60%. Recruitment in the hospitality and catering sectors meanwhile have dropped by as much as 85%.

In total, job adverts in the UK have declined by more than 70% in the last 10 weeks.

It’s thought the country can expect to see a significant increase in unemployment as the lockdown continues to impact the business economy.

Recruiters should, therefore, expect to be working in an entirely different landscape with much fewer vacancies and far more competition in the Post-COVID world, with many turning to online recruitment tools and services in order to adapt. Agency recruiters will potentially need to reinvent themselves and diversify, in order to survive.


Talent attraction


Online communication tools

Some recruiters are implementing the use of modern online communication tools. Allowing them to hire talent in the travel industry safely while avoiding unnecessary travel and adhering to social distancing guidelines. In particular, a range of video conferencing tools, such as Skype, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams are now allowing recruiters to talk with clients and conduct interviews with job applicants remotely with no in-person contact. In fact, Zoom was downloaded 2.13 million times on March 23, the day the government announced the lockdown — up from 56,000 a day two months earlier. It’s therefore advised for recruiters to download these conferencing tools and learn how to use them. So you’re able to work in this kind of online capacity if necessary.


The future of the travel industry

Airline and cruise ship staff are currently focusing on providing customers with support to navigate cancellations and refunds. Customers are being encouraged to postpone trips rather than outright cancel their travel plans. A recent report found people are even using their time in lockdown to plan future holidays. Good news for the recruitment industry. 55% of people who travel five or more times every year say they will likely book a future holiday during the coronavirus pandemic, while this number increases to 61% for business travellers.

Once lockdown measures are lifted, demand for travel will increase, along with the need for staff industry-wide. Of course, people will naturally be more concerned about staying safe and healthy while travelling than ever before. Recruiters who travel for work will need to take steps to strengthen their immune system to avoid falling ill.

However, online recruitment may continue to become the norm for many businesses moving forward even beyond when people are confident that the threat of coronavirus has passed. 

The travel industry has undoubtedly been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. By working with online video conferencing tools, recruiters will be able to fill available vacancies while following safety guidelines. It’s hoped these uncertain times will be followed by an eventual boom in travel and a brighter future.


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Lucy Wyndham

Lucy Wyndham is a freelance writer and editor.

How is the Coronavirus impacting UK Businesses?
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

With the shocking media headlines, it’s not easy to understand what is happening to the world of business right now. Further, the way that it will impact individual companies and people will depend on multiple factors.

We may all be in this storm together, but we are certainly not in the same boat. How we navigate ourselves to the other side of this crisis will involve understanding our own specific set of circumstances.

Surveys can often shed more light on what is actually happening. During the crisis, I have become quite an expert at interpreting the painstaking research of others. My goal is to try and provide insight from which others can benefit.

With that said,  I would like to acknowledge Richmond Events and hopefully, if they see this, they will interpret it as a genuine endorsement of their work.


The main points to consider


Let’s start off with a short summary of where the sentiment is focused right now:

    1. The number one concern right now by far is the economy, with apprehension levels increasing all the time. There is a very real chance that this crisis can lead to a recession or depression. This would have far more devastating effects than the coronavirus itself.
    2. There is a far more serious concern for personal financial security, that has overtaken fears for our company’s future. In short, it’s dawning on the vast majority of us that this is going to impact all of us significantly. This moves well beyond the commercial impact on our employers.
    3. For those still working, communication with existing and prospective customers is very difficult.
    4. Over 80% of people expect remote working to change how they operate in the future. However, less than 20% feel that a permanent move to home working is actually viable long term.
    5. Improvements to home working technologies are seen as the most significant change as a result of the virus. But home working conditions still need to catch up and improve to enable more home working to remain long term.
    6. 70% of organisations have delivered operational improvements as a result of Covid-19.
    7. 51% of businesses have evolved or diversified their product offerings in the past few weeks.
    8. 39% of organisations have seen increased demand for one or more of their products and services.
    9. 42% of companies are considering alternative or actively seeking new suppliers.
    10. There are very mixed views on what actions the Government should take.


What are people most concerned about?


Unsurprisingly, the concerns surrounding the economic uncertainties facing our country far outweigh all others. This overall sentiment has grown substantially in the last month.

The most significant changes reported between April to May are:

People generally are now far more worried about the long-term prospects of our economy.

Serious concern around personal financial security has overtaken fears for organisations in the short-term. As more people realise the potential impact the crisis may have on an individual level.

Whereas the results for wellbeing haven’t changed significantly, there is a gentle shift in a positive direction. More people feeling ‘slightly’ rather than ‘very/quite’ concerned for the wellbeing of both themselves and their families.


Latest statistics


How do people rate their company’s response?


Overall, people feel that their organisations have responded well in providing adequate technology for home working. They also indicated that they and their colleagues are generally being looked after quite well. The overall perception is that the crisis has encouraged more good human behaviour than bad.

Conversely, external communication to both customers and non-customers has certainly been more difficult during the crisis.


coronavirus impacting uk business


Organisational Changes


Initial reports in April demonstrated a relatively bullish opinion around the loss of customers. However, this confidence appears to be waning with some companies now experiencing a significant loss of customers. The news of mass redundancies and job losses is increasing fears of how that will affect their own commercial relationships.

Around 40% of UK businesses either have already or plan to make salary reductions in the next 3 months. This reflects a significant shift in sentiment. The impact of Covid-19 is not going to be absorbed solely by a companies financial reports and government aid.


Latest statistics



Over 50% of people working full-time said that they were working even harder than they were pre-COVID. The other half estimate that they are working less.
Overall, meaningful economic productivity and output across the UK is significantly down. That’s hardly shocking since the government have effectively turned the economy down to a “simmer”.


What % of your typical working week do you believe you are now working?


coronavirus impacting uk business

Latest statistics


Government assistance 

CBILS may have been a great government PR exercise initially, but it has been an unmitigated disaster, failing to finance more than 5% of the companies that have applied to it.

The Job Retention (furlough) Scheme remains the key Government assistance measure that most organisations have plugged into. Deferred VAT and Income Tax payments have been welcomed, but along with lost revenues and additional differed rents and supplier payments, there is another financial time bomb being kicked down the road for many companies that will at some point come home to roost. (yes I know I managed to get 3 metaphors into that last sentence 😊)


Which of the government’s help measures will your company make use of?


coronavirus impacting uk business


Getting back to ‘normal’

Subjective opinions on this topic vary dramatically. Some credible economists are predicting significantly worse to come and decades of hardship and austerity. Others are more optimistic. What they all have in common is that they just do not know. Sure this is not the first ever pandemic, nor the deadliest but that’s missing the point here.

The point is that COVID-19 is a global crisis unprecedented in the modern economy. As such, all opinion is based on assumptions and models that are based in hypothesis, not precedent.

Most scientists seem to agree that until there is an effective vaccine, the world cannot return to ‘normal’ and by then the world may have already changed for good.

The biggest challenge when it comes to getting back to normal is that what is perceived as good for the economy, may not be good for public health. This conflict has been the crux of governments policy. As the public order constraints are lifted, this problem gets transferred to the company and individual level. Naturally, this will be a hotbed for confusion and conflict.

What is very clear is that until we are all allowed back to work, the repair and recovery process for the wider economy will be constrained. Most believe that will not happen for another 3-6 months at least, according to this survey.


How long do you think it will be before the following areas return to pre-COVID-19 levels?


coronavirus impacting uk business

coronavirus impacting uk business


How are organisations responding to Covid-19?


Every sensible organisation is taking action to protect itself and to prepare for the eventual upturn.

Unsurprisingly, preserving cashflow is of greatest importance. However, many businesses are using this opportunity to diversify their offerings and are increasing their marketing activities.

The results about remote working adaptations aren’t hugely surprising because there has been little choice in this matter. However, it will be interesting to see the longer-term impact that homeworking will have on, amongst other things, employee wellbeing & mental health, commercial property and cybersecurity and of course genuine business productivity.


What steps is your business taking to mitigate the risks post-Coronavirus?


coronavirus impacting uk business


One important item missing from this part of the survey is the suspension or cancelling of existing commercial commitments. It is one thing to place a project on hold or even cancel it, but when that project had commenced already and stopping it constituted a legal breach, then the impact on the supply chain can be devastating. Companies in this predicament will have potentially made commitments to deliver on that project, in terms of materials and resources, but they themselves are also anticipating the revenues being generated by it, in order to meet their own obligations.

Speaking to business owners myself over the last few weeks it appears that most have experienced being involved in such scenarios, with added complexities of how to respond, because although they need the revenues, they also need to be sensitive to the long term client relationship.


What positive impact have you seen on your UK business operations?


coronavirus impacting uk business


Will remote working change the way organisations works in the future?

This might be another part of the survey, where employees and employers might have conflicting views. Some employees might feel the personal benefits, while employers will evaluate more against productivity levels.

What it does undoubtedly prove though, is that, for many companies, we can move to a remote working environment if and when we need to and when circumstances demand it, even if we don’t adopt this as a permanent way of working.

One fact we cannot ignore is that people’s homes are not suitably set up to accommodate long term home working. There is neither adequate space or the appropriate infrastructure for the vast majority, not to mention the current set of distractions.


Will remote working change the way that employees work in the future?


Employees perceptions and desires do not always marry with employers needs and requirements.

If average productivity levels are down when working from home (as they undoubtedly are in most cases), would that be suitably compensated by the reduction in office and rent costs?

Will employees WFH staff demand that the business contributes towards improving work from home conditions? Perhaps the way that people are remunerated would need to change so that it was more reflective of production levels? There are certainly more questions than answers on this one and each person and company will have their own opinions and views.

The lockdown has also highlighted many advantages and benefits of office life too, as much as it has opened up our eyes to the flexibility of home working.


Will remote working affect the way we operate in the future?


coronavirus impacting uk business


Opinions of the Government


The following results are self-explanatory, although I think that most sensible people agree that the government are always going to be on a hiding to nothing in these situations. How they handle the return to work process over the coming weeks is for me going to be their biggest challenge to date.


How well do you think the UK Government are handling the issue of the Coronavirus?


coronavirus impacting uk business


If you were in charge of the Government, what action would you take?


I think that we can anticipate sentiment towards opening up businesses to grow significantly over the coming weeks. Especially as employees realise the very genuine risk of long term unemployment for very large numbers of the population and that many years of austerity are the alternative.


Latest statistics


Your opinions of Boris


Boris might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But, according to the opinion polls, most people think that he is doing an OK job in very challenging circumstances. However, getting the UK economy switched back on again surely now has to become the number one priority. In order to avoid an economic catastrophe.

This all needs to be done while maintaining and respecting the amazing work done by the NHS. So that we don’t undo their positive achievements. This must also be done in parallel with a sensible and cautious approach that considers and respects the Covid-19 related guidelines and protocols.


How has your support/opinion of Boris Johnson changed throughout the crisis?


coronavirus impacting uk business


Which countries’ leadership do you admire the most in the handling of this situation?


Latest statistics


What sectors of industry did the survey data come from?


Latest statistics



There is always a limit to what can be deduced from general surveys, but measuring the changes in these opinions over the weeks and months is an interesting barometer of sentiments in the broader business community.

Any sense that this was an unexpected holiday has been superseded with boredom and frustration. Any novelty has worn off and people want to get back to the business of growing their bottom line vs their waistline.

There is still a long way to go for this story to play itself out. We are probably in the eye of the storm right now with the true damage still to be revealed.

On a positive note, there is a lot of good and kindness coming out of people during this crisis. We are learning new ways of operating during this massive work-from-home social experiment.

Cheering those that have risen to the challenge has extended way beyond the NHS.  It is truly inspiring to see the power of companies who have turned their production capabilities towards philanthropic endeavours. When the government turns the heat back up on the economy, these will be the ones to watch.

All storms eventually pass and in the wake of their destruction, painful lessons are learned and many things – not least our hands – are washed clean.

The majority of the data and graphs used in this article were sourced from a report initially produced by Richmond Events


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Mark Stephens

Mark has established a reputation for his passion and enthusiasm over twenty years working in the recruitment industry, both client and agency side. For the last ten years, he has been researching the recruitment landscape from both a technology and people perspective. His insights into market trends are often used and quoted across the industry’s leading publications. His company, Smart Recruit Online, has been the winner of 5 international awards for technology innovation and Recruitment Technology in the last 18 months. And currently holds the accolade of filling more jobs from direct applications for their clients than any other online recruitment service in the UK.

Why is isolation and lockdown so stressful?
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Isolation is incredibly tiring when you are not used to it.

A multitude of extra, tiny decisions are taxing our brains.

There have been a number of interesting articles posted in The Conversation over the last couple of weeks that make for interesting reading. In particular, I was drawn to those articles about how Covid and lockdown are affecting peoples’ mental health. One article by Professor Ben Newell, a specialist in Cognitive Psychology at the University of NSW, made intriguing reading. So I wanted to share some of his comments and thoughts along with some of my own.


mental health


According to the research, all the extra tiny decisions that we have to now make every day are taking their toll.

Anxiety, depression, loneliness and stress are all affecting our sleep patterns and how tired we feel.

But we may be getting tired for other reasons too. All those micro-decisions we make every day are multiplying and taking their toll. Our bodies and our brains adapt to patterns and routines and turn cognitive behaviours into mechanical ones. It’s the way our brains cope with the multitude of relatively mundane and basic decisions that we have to make.

New decisions, due to the change in circumstances, such as; should I go for a walk? Is it safe to pop to the shop? Is it OK to wear my pyjamas in a Zoom meeting?

All of these kinds of decisions are in addition to the familiar, everyday ones, like what shall I have for breakfast? What shall I wear? Do I hassle the kids to brush their teeth?


So what’s going on?

According to Professor Newell, we are increasing our cognitive load

One way to think about these extra decisions we’re making in isolation is in terms of “cognitive load”. We are trying to think about too many things at once. But our brains can only cope with a finite amount of information.

Researchers have been looking into our limited capacity for cognition or attention for decades.

Early research described a “bottleneck” through which information passes. We are forced to attend selectively to a portion of all the information available to our senses at a given time.

These ideas grew into research on “working memory“: there are limits on the number of mental actions or operations we can carry out. Think of remembering a phone or bank account number. Most people find it very hard to remember more than a few at once.

Coronavirus isolation can be exhausting, and it can affect how we make decisions.

To measure the effects of cognitive load on decision-making, researchers vary the amount of information people are given, then look at the effects.

In one study, they asked participants to predict a sequence of simple events (whether a green or red square would appear at the top or bottom of a screen) while keeping track of a stream of numbers between the squares.

Think of this increase in cognitive load as a bit like trying to remember a phone number while compiling your shopping list.

When the cognitive load is not too great, people can successfully “divide and conquer” (by paying attention to one task first).

In one study, participants who had to learn the sequence and monitor the numbers made just as many successful predictions, on average, as those who only had to learn the sequence.

Presumably, they divided their attention between keeping track of the simple sequence and rehearsing the numbers.


More and more decisions take their toll

But when tasks become more taxing, decision making can start to deteriorate.

In another study, Swiss researchers used the monitoring task to examine the impact of cognitive load on risky choices. They asked participants to choose between pairs of gambles, such as:

  1. A) 42 per cent chance of £14 and 58 % chance of £85, or
  2. B) 8 per cent chance of £24 or 92 % chance of £44.

Participants made these choices while also keeping track of sequences of letters played to them via headphones.

The key finding was not that increasing cognitive load made people inherently more risk-seeking (tending to choose A) or risk-averse (B). It simply made them more inconsistent in their choices. Increased cognitive load made them switch.

It is a bit like choosing the fruit salad over the cake under normal circumstances, but switching to the cake when you are cognitively overloaded.

It is not because a higher cognitive load causes a genuine change in your preference for unhealthy food. Your decisions just get “noisier” or inconsistent when you have more on your mind.


Wellness and Mental Health


‘To do two things at once is to do neither’

This proverbial wisdom (attributed to the Roman slave Publilius Syrus) rings true — with the caveat that we sometimes can do more than one thing if they are familiar, well-practised decisions.

But in the current context, there are many new decisions that we never thought we’d need to make. For example: Is it safe to walk in the park when it is busy?

This unfamiliar territory means we need to take the time to adapt and recognise our cognitive limitations.

Although it might seem as though all those tiny decisions are mounting up, it perhaps isn’t just their number. The root cause of this additional cognitive load could be the undercurrent of additional uncertainty surrounding these novel decisions.

For some, the pandemic has displaced a bunch of decisions (do I have time to get to the bus stop?). But the ones that have replaced them are tinged with the anxiety surrounding the ultimate cost that we, or family members, might pay if we make the wrong decision.

So, it is no wonder these new decisions are taking their toll.


So what can I do?

Unless you have had ample experience with the situation or the tasks you are trying to do are simple, then adding load is likely to lead to poorer, inconsistent or “noisier” decisions.

The pandemic has thrown us into highly unfamiliar territory, with a raft of new, emotionally tinged decisions to face.

The simple advice is to recognise this new complexity, and not feel you have to do everything at once. And “divide and conquer” by separating your decisions and giving each one the attention it — and you — deserve.

This post was heavily influenced and used extracts taken from an article originally written by Ben Newell, a Professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of NSW, that appeared in The Conversation.


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Mark Stephens

Mark has established a reputation for his passion and enthusiasm over twenty years working in the recruitment industry, both client and agency side. For the last ten years, he has been researching the recruitment landscape from both a technology and people perspective. His insights into market trends are often used and quoted across the industry’s leading publications. His company, Smart Recruit Online, has been the winner of 5 international awards for technology innovation and Recruitment Technology in the last 18 months. And currently holds the accolade of filling more jobs from direct applications for their clients than any other online recruitment service in the UK.

Is Covid-19 causing unsafe remote working?
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

With countries across the world under lockdown due to Covid-19, businesses large and small are having to completely rethink and revolutionise their standard working practices. This has caused many to embrace remote working, and there is even the suggestion that this change is likely to be far more long term – as when things get back to normal, companies will have gotten used to the benefits of remote working.

Many businesses with remote workers have had to struggle to quickly find new ways of working – including incorporating new technologies and collaboration tools to allow staff to continue to work effectively.

However, while this has created great opportunities to find new ways of working, there are issues with it too. The speed at which the crisis occurred meant that many businesses may not have had the time to ensure that all of their employees are working from home as securely as possible. Cyber threats targeting home workers are on the rise and it’s important that business leaders are alert to the latest risks. Here we take a look at some of the key cybersecurity issues affecting remote workers.


A rise in remote desktop protocol adoption

One of the most widely used tools that remote workers have embraced is remote desktop protocol (RDP). RDP allows remote users to access the desktop of an office computer or server that’s located at another location, meaning that they then have access to all of the tools, apps, software, and files to be able to perform their job. RDP is commonly used by IT departments in order to manage and provide assistance to users across an organisation.

However, there is a huge problem in that poorly secured or unprotected RDP endpoints can provide easy access for hackers. Far too many organisations are using RDP in a way that leaves them vulnerable to cybercriminals who could remotely access a device and steal data.


Remote connections can be vulnerable

Vulnerabilities with the remote access tools used by organisations can create additional problems for security teams, meaning it is vital to keep systems and tools patched.  One of the most well-known vulnerabilities in RDP, for example, is Bluekeep – first discovered by Microsoft in May 2019.

The company did release a patch for the bug at the time, but it is likely that many organisations that were not utilising remote connectivity at the time did not install it. This could mean that if those organisations have now begun using remote connections, they could be vulnerable.

Organisations that are worried about the security of access controls are advised to commission an independent remote working security assessment to help identify and address risks.


Accessing systems through unsecured devices

Another danger is the fact that employees working from home may be using unsecured devices in order to access data. In the office, employees most often use a single device that has been properly configured. This also benefits from the protection of network-based security controls, such as a company firewall.

However, when working remotely, employees may utilise a much broader range of devices. These are not security hardened and don’t benefit from traditional perimeter defences. A single employee might use a desktop, a laptop, a mobile phone, and a tablet to carry out their work. This broadens the potential range of targets for criminals.


Using unapproved software

Remote working makes it more likely that workers could fall victim to problems with so-called shadow IT. Shadow IT refers to the use of software that has not been approved by the IT team. This is much more easily done on personal computers. Your IT team will have far less control over what software and apps you use.

Unapproved software might not sound like a major problem. But it may be the case that these programs contain vulnerabilities that cybercriminals could seek to exploit.


Insufficient training provided

With employees all working from home simultaneously and using multiple devices, monitoring the use of data can be very challenging. This puts an increased onus on individual employees to be doing all they can to stay secure. But there is a problem here too.

The speed at which companies were forced to change their working practice has meant that many did not get the chance to adequately prepare their staff for working at home. And without strict guidelines in place for how to work from home securely, employees can be at risk.

Organisations need to provide training as soon as possible to ensure staff are aware of the latest security risks such as:

  • Covid-19 phishing emails
  • Ways to better secure home networks by setting strong router passwords
  • How to add extra security to accounts with multifactor authentication


online traning


Final thoughts

Remote access solutions and collaboration tools can be key to providing the capacity and flexibility needed for employees to do their job. But this has resulted in businesses putting their trust in new, untried applications and also storing data in the cloud. If not done in the right way this can introduce vulnerabilities, encourage unsafe working practices and significantly increase cyber risk.

While there is much to think about in these challenging times, organisations cannot lose sight of their goals in terms of cybersecurity. 


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Annie Button

Annie Button is a Portsmouth based writer and recent graduate. Annie has written for various online and print publications, she specialises in business, recruitment and career development.

Recruitment planning – Post-Pandemic-Crisis
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

People often say that everything in this world happens for a reason. Well, sometimes it’s hard to understand and often it can feel very unfair when you are the one that feels the full impact. Covid-19 indiscriminately affected so many of us. It all happened so quickly, that most of us had little time to adequately prepare. And now of course, many of us are already starting to contemplate, what happens next?


Looking ahead

The eternal optimist in me says that we need to start planning and to prepare for life after this crisis, because if we were a good company going into this situation, then we can potentially be an even better company coming out of it too.

This disruptive situation has provided most of us with an opportunity to reflect on everything, and assess our strengths and weaknesses. We at Smart Recruit Online will be making some fundamental operational and strategic business changes as a result of what has happened, that is for sure, and I have been looking at new tools and systems that we will need to help make that happen.


What’s next for Smart Recruit Online?

Our strengths and areas of expertise will certainly remain within Online Recruitment. Specifically, in talent attraction strategy and recruitment management and selection process and delivery.

Our credentials going into this crisis, saw us consistently outperform every other online recruitment service when it comes to key recruitment metrics, such as application volumes, quality of applicants, time and administration efficiencies and successful fulfilment rates from direct applications and we intend for it to stay that way.


Talent Attraction


Future challenges

There will be significant challenges ahead when it comes to post-pandemic recruitment of staff over the coming months, as we get back to some degree of normality. With unemployment predicted to skyrocket, impacting application numbers and quality, having efficient systems in place is going to be crucial.

Having the best possible recruitment solution in place to assist you post-pandemic, when the upturn arrives, doesn’t actually require a massive investment of time or cost. SRO have been helping dozens of hospitals all over the UK to recruit front line staff during the crisis and have onboarded entire teams in less than an hour. We also have a free version of our platform and very competitive, low cost options, for paying customers that want to activate a wider range of tools and services.

Anyone can trial our full suite of products and services free of charge for 3 months and use this opportunity to build a business case that is based on evidence and facts, not a fancy sales pitch.

I would like to invite you to join us for an online demonstration, on how you too can quickly and easily get ahead of the game and prepare for the post Covid-19 era.

You can take a tour and then delay the start of your trial until you have your first campaign ready to go, so there is nothing to pay now, just 30 minutes investment of your time to join one of our system specialists and do something that will potentially enable you to deal with the recruitment challenges that lay ahead far more effectively.

Good luck to you and your business, we hope that you and loved ones stay safe and well.

Mark Stephens



Smart Recruit Online offers an award-winning talent attraction software that can streamline and revolutionise your recruitment. To find out what we can to for your recruitment strategy, book a demo by clicking here.

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Mark Stephens

Mark has established a reputation for his passion and enthusiasm over twenty years working in the recruitment industry, both client and agency side. For the last ten years, he has been researching the recruitment landscape from both a technology and people perspective. His insights into market trends are often used and quoted across the industry’s leading publications. His company, Smart Recruit Online, has been the winner of 5 international awards for technology innovation and Recruitment Technology in the last 18 months. And currently holds the accolade of filling more jobs from direct applications for their clients than any other online recruitment service in the UK.

Are you concerned about your future as an independent agency recruiter?
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Will COVID-19 influence fundamental changes to the traditional agency recruitment model?


Even if we push aside the extreme market conditions that we are currently experiencing, most industry experts will agree that an overhaul of the way that the traditional independent agency recruiter works is long overdue. Contingency recruitment, in particular, has encouraged bad practice in many areas. This has subsequently lead to ‘the recruiter’ receiving its unfair share of bad press.

To appreciate how radical this transformational change could be, we need to quickly go back to basics. Starting with the genuine pains, challenges, frustrations, bottlenecks that clients say they endure and the recruitment objectives of what our prospective clients say they want to achieve.


Agency reseller



Analysis of over 10,000 completed client surveys by the team here at SRO, highlighted the following items firmly and consistently in the corporate clients top 10 recruitment objectives:

  1. Recruit more efficiently – less time and less effort for better results
  2. Attract more quality Direct Applications to Jobs (Not via a 3rd party)
  3. Deliver a better user and applicant experience
  4. Keep recruitment hiring costs to a minimum
  5. Fill more jobs first time and in less time (<20 days)
  6. Apply better due diligence hiring decisions to reduce attrition
  7. Centralise & control recruitment processes whilst enabling hiring teams
  8. Be more agile in adopting new technology, products and services
  9. Improve reporting and better understand what is working and what isn’t
  10. Recruit ethically, improve diversity and remove bias from the recruitment process

The consistent elephant in the room for many professional recruitment companies is that their clients see them as the lesser of two evils.  Simply put – they use them because out of necessity, not because they want to. This strains the relationship at its foundation and any positive transformation must involve a radical shift in perception.


Repetitive rhetorical conversations need to dissolve, and real conversations backed up by actual change need to emerge.


This does not mean that there isn’t a role for the ‘independent agency recruiter’. In fact, according to the CIPD, REC, APSCO and the Office of National Statistics, UK business during the last 10 years, have consistently recruited around 20% of its staff via 3rd party service providers. This includes temporary and permanent staff.

Another more recent global report by AI market leaders, Burning Glass, confirms that around 80% of all hires now come via applications made online. That statistic reflects the increasing number of job-related searches taking place each month via Google. This is now in excess of 17m searches coming from unique UK IP addresses each month.


That’s more than 50% of the working population doing a job-related search online every month.


Subsequently, ‘prospective applicant’ behaviour is making the trend of recruiting online easier and more effective and when done properly, can dramatically reduce a company’s dependency on using agency recruitment services with a contingency fee model.

When we factor in the current market conditions there is a very strong business case for independent and agency recruiters to consider making that adjustment to their business model now.


independent agency recruiter


So, what is the plan?

If the independent agency recruiter is going to successfully reinvent themselves, they need to provide solutions that accurately reflect client demands first. Savvy entrepreneurs & investors will tell you that you must solve a real problem worth solving for customers first and develop your business model second.

That may sound straight forward and logical but that does not mean it’s easy. There is a good reason that most disruption comes from start-ups; they simply do not have the baggage of incumbent ideas and are not entrenched in yesterday’s models.


 If you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down

(even if it has made you money in the past)


Of course, it’s hard to change the way we do things, especially when we have been doing things a certain way for a long time. That is why Smart Recruit Online has made this our mission – our raison d’etre is to devise solutions that accurately reflect client demands.

We achieve this by continuously innovating at the intersection between technology and phycology, between computer science and behavioural science. Whereas the recruitment ecosystem evolves constantly – this intersection remains the frontline.

As developers of recruitment technology solutions, we have drawn significant inspiration from the marketing sector in the last 10 years. Digital Marketing Consultants and Recruitment Consultant work in very similar ways. One is generating leads, while the other generates candidates. However, the marketing sector gets a lion’s share of investment and can rapidly embrace the fluid changes and uses of technology so much more effectively and quickly.

They are masters at developing evidence-based approaches and evolving creative new business models born from real data and focussed on true ROI.

Think Hubspot, Marketo or Infusionsoft for Digital Marketeers. These platforms and their advanced tools and methodology have become an integral part of the marketing arsenal, to the point that they simply would not be able to perform without them now.

Professionally presented dashboards, segmented with layers of detail and evidence validating each stage of the process are the norm. They highlight areas for improvement in real-time, enabling those real conversations we talked about.


This is how you can transform your business and elevate above reactive tactical recruitment and into strategic talent acquisition.  


Also, we must think about the one-dimensional commercial terms that an independent or agency recruiter typically offers. It’s a major part of the reason that only 20% of jobs go to this sector of the recruitment supply chain.



independent agency recruiter


So, how do you access the other 80%?


With some adjustment to your commercials and delivery models to reflect the level of difficulty and the work involved, you can quickly access the other 80% of jobs and increase your probability of commercial success.


You must be able to provide clients with a full suite of services to meet their needs on attractive commercial terms.


Here is the full range of services that you COULD be offering. They cover every possible type of job and all the transactional options that the client has:


  • ATS or Recruitment Platform: provide a low cost, yet highly effective technology solution to the client, that allows them to do everything else for themselves.


  • Recruitment Advertising Media: The client possibly has an ATS or recruitment solution in place, but is interested in buying media more intelligently and to get better value for money against their limited recruitment budget.


  • Applicant screening: The most time-consuming aspect for internal recruitment teams is the screening and selecting of the applications, especially on high volume roles. If you had effective AI tools that accurately rank candidates for relevance, against the job details, this time can be reduced by around 80%.


  • Fixed Price Solution: Most companies can attach a value to each recruitment campaign, but for 80% of jobs that doesn’t support an agency fee. Getting paid for the work you do, is a sound business model, so if you can make £300-500 profit on each campaign for what is typically between 1-3 hours of your time, then the cumulative effect, when you do this 12 times each month, is between £3600-6000 in guaranteed revenues.


  • Contingency & Retained work: When you can provide the full range of services outlined above each time that the company needs to recruit, you will always have advanced or exclusive visibility of the jobs that are struggling most and that presents you with the opportunity to gain either an advantage or to negotiate an exclusive or retained arrangement with your clients. Your successful fill rate will subsequently go up and the overall revenues that you generate from success fees will potentially double or treble. You already know this model of course 😊


  • Agency & Vendor Management: If the client still wants to use a network of 3rd party suppliers, perhaps you can provide a solution that outsources and removes all those unwanted agency sales calls? There are going to be a lot more of them over the coming months.


So what is stopping you from adapting your current model?


To get started you will need a technology partner, that can provide you with an advanced recruitment delivery platform (not a CRM) with a suite of best-in-class tools so that you can deliver the full range of services that actually meet the clients need. Services that have been developed around the 10 objectives highlighted at the beginning of this article.

Select a partner with the right technological capability and an understanding of the talent acquisition ecosystem and wider recruitment industry.


Every journey begins with a single step, but the best journeys are those you embark on with the right partner in tow. Even the best climbers in the world don’t attempt Everest without a trusted team of Sherpas. With that in mind, we have done the heavy lifting for you.


independent agency recruiter


We are a technology partner that can support you, develop the skills required and adapt to this more advanced way of working, with on boarding, training and ongoing support.

We will also help you access better online client branded media advertising packages, that you can resell media to clients, and that will ultimately help you and the clients to fill more jobs from direct applications whilst making you a profit.

It is important to note, that this is not an abandonment of the old ways, or a discarding your existing client relationship style. It’s a reinvention of your business and the services that you are prepared to take to market, in order to not just survive, but thrive within the Post CV19 world.

The first movers in this space will undoubtedly be the major players in years to come, so getting a head start in this traditionally slow to respond sector is an opportunity for those who want to capitalise on the inevitable rebound.

Remember the 3 types of people in this world, those that make things happen, those that get on board with what is happening and those that wonder what just happened.

Steven Covey states clearly in the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, that the most common trait amongst highly successful people, is that they tend not to procrastinate once they identify something that makes sense.


Click here to find out more and to arrange a call with one of our systems experts. Ask about our 3 month Free Trial package, to help get you started.

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Mark Stephens

Mark has established a reputation for his passion and enthusiasm over twenty years working in the recruitment industry, both client and agency side. For the last ten years, he has been researching the recruitment landscape from both a technology and people perspective. His insights into market trends are often used and quoted across the industry’s leading publications. His company, Smart Recruit Online, has been the winner of 5 international awards for technology innovation and Recruitment Technology in the last 18 months. And currently holds the accolade of filling more jobs from direct applications for their clients than any other online recruitment service in the UK.

How is Covid-19 really affecting the job market?
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

The impact of Coronavirus on the UK job market isn’t so much about where the most cases have been recorded. Geographically we have seen regions that are more dependent on manufacturing, rental or holiday accommodation, travel & tourism being hit much harder than those regions with large numbers of cases, or where there has been more ‘Stay-at-Home working’ capability.


Detailed and comprehensive research and data analysis by leading AI software and labour analytics company Burning Glass has been conducted across the United States. The regions suffering the greatest jobs impact from the coronavirus pandemic aren’t those with the highest number of cases too. Those most dependent on the vulnerable industries, such as those previously mentioned, have been the worst affected.


Nationwide, new UK job postings dropped to more than 70% below the annual average in April. CV applications initially dropped to 21% below, but recovered to just 12% under the annual average, according to job board data provided by WaveTrachR.


covid-19 affecting job market


Regions with the highest number of reported COVID-19 cases and early social distancing restrictions saw declines in job postings. Yet other regions with lower per capita reported cases saw much larger declines in job postings.


“The economic shock of the pandemic is a nationwide phenomenon, but just as some places are suffering more infections and deaths than others, some regions and sectors are suffering more economically – and the two aren’t always related,” said Matt Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass Technologies. “The jobs impact is driven more by the underlying economy of a region or sector than how many COVID-19 infections it has or what kind of social distancing rules are in place.”


WavetrackR data and CV-Library data, confirmed that application numbers in the UK were down in 9 out of the 10 largest industry sectors in Q1 of 2020.


covid-19 affecting job market


Other key trends in Burning Glass job posting data include:

  • Job postings are up around 10% for many health care roles such as Pharmacists, Respiratory Therapists, and Registered Nurses. There’s an even larger demand for cleaning workers, vital in keeping clinical areas sterile. Demand for housekeeping staff is up over 10% in the health care field. Even as overall demand dropped by over 30%. Demand for health care Laundry and Dry-Cleaning Workers is up around 30%, even as it dropped overall by 40%.
  • Yet health care postings dropped by over 15% overall. Driven by sharp declines in back-office postings and roles that require non-essential but personal contact.


Predicting the future

One thing is apparent from the lack of clarity coming out of both professional and non-professional channels. There is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to what the post Covid-19 business world will look like. History tells us the job market and the recruitment of staff provides real-time insights into economic recovery. It is likely that this crisis will be no different.


Common sense says changes will come at some point in the next few weeks. As the Government implements the first phase or wave or return to work directives. Especially for the most critical jobs and sectors, with a caveat that work-from-home jobs should remain as such, for as long as possible.


The sectors affected most by the crisis are also likely to be those effected longest. Travel, Events and anything that involves large unnecessary gatherings of people will require long term plans to help re-establish themselves.


Here is another data set generated by David Whitfield at The HR Datahub this week, outlining some of the key decisions being taken by businesses during the crisis:


covid-19 affecting the job market


Obviously there are some slightly shocking statistics in here. Most notably that nearly 50% of all companies surveyed anticipate making redundancies or enforcing reduced pay within 3-6 months.


Over the coming week, Job posting and application numbers will no doubt provide us with more meaningful real-time insights.


We wish to acknowledge and thank The HR Datahub, Burning Glass, CV-Library and WaverTrackR for providing data for this article.



Smart Recruit Online offers an award-winning talent attraction software that can streamline and revolutionise your recruitment. To find out what we can to for your recruitment strategy, book a demo by clicking here.

Book A Demo

Mark Stephens

Mark has established a reputation for his passion and enthusiasm over twenty years working in the recruitment industry, both client and agency side. For the last ten years, he has been researching the recruitment landscape from both a technology and people perspective. His insights into market trends are often used and quoted across the industry’s leading publications. His company, Smart Recruit Online, has been the winner of 5 international awards for technology innovation and Recruitment Technology in the last 18 months. And currently holds the accolade of filling more jobs from direct applications for their clients than any other online recruitment service in the UK.

3 Critical Considerations for Enabling Large-Scale Remote Work
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

We are now well into the COVID-19 pandemic. Borders are closed, public venues are shuttered, and people all over the world are being instructed to stay at home and isolate.  Businesses, meanwhile, are being forced to make the shift to a remote workforce, whether they want to or not.

To be fair, we knew that a telecommuting revolution was coming for quite some time.  Thanks to the advances in networking technology, it’s now easier than ever to stay connected to both colleagues and clients. Moreover, the portability of modern computing hardware and the availability of distributed cloud applications have together created greater worker empowerment than at any other point in modern history.

Unfortunately, the reality is that for many companies, remote work, particularly at the scale demanded by Coronavirus, is extremely challenging. For some, it may even verge on impossible. Even WordPress creator Automattic has found distributed work at such a scale to be difficult, as founder Matt Mullenweg acknowledged in a blog post earlier this month.

“[The situation is] not ideal on any level,” he explained. “Even at a remote-friendly company like Automattic, we rely on in-person team meetups and conferences to strengthen our connections and get work done. For now, we’ve cancelled all work-related travel.”

Given that this pandemic isn’t likely to go anywhere anytime soon, your business will need to deploy the necessary frameworks and policies to support remote staff. Because the alternative is to simply let everything grind to a halt. That’s not really an option.


The Cultural Shift Won’t Happen Overnight

In our experience, one of the most significant challenges with telework involves a cultural shift. When you support a remote workforce, you by definition allow everyone a certain level of flexibility. You also provide staff with much greater accountability and freedom than they would have in an office.

What we’re saying here is that micromanagers have no place in a distributed workforce, nor do traditional office hours. Outside of scheduling occasional meetings and touch-bases, you should allow your employees to work when, where, and how they choose. Offer them your trust, and hold them accountable for meeting their deadlines and fulfilling their responsibilities.

You might be surprised at how well they excel.

That said, distributed work is not for everyone. You’re bound to have a few staff who find the isolation stifling, even harmful to their mental health. Make sure to foster enough of a sense of community that people can easily connect with and reach out to one another, whether via a videoconferencing platform like Zoom or a chat app like Slack.


Mental Health


Decentralized Cybersecurity is a Must

As you might expect, remote work takes the idea of the traditional security perimeter and blows it out of the water. While there’s still a place for firewalls, access controls, and network security, these measures on their own are no longer enough. If you’re to enable remote employees in a way that keeps your data safe, you’ll also need the following.

  • File-centric security. Your IT department should have the ability to control, extend, and rescind file access and permissions with relative ease, and this functionality should be layered over sensitive assets in such a way that it does not interfere with workflows.
  • Secure tunnels. In the event that your staff must access on-site resources, you’ll want a means of protecting that remote access, such as a VPN, a virtual server, or an encrypted remote desktop.
  • Additional security software for staff. This may include a password manager, access to a premium antivirus, etc.
  • Mindfulness and accountability. Provide your staff with free access to documentation and training materials to help them recognize common phishing scams, especially those that try to leverage the fears of COVID-19.


Understand That This Could Be the New Normal

The world has already been forever changed by Coronavirus. Even once the pandemic dies down and the dust settles, telework will remain a fixture in many businesses, not just a competitive advantage but a baseline offering. While some staff will most definitely leap at the chance to return to the office and get back to business as usual, many others will continue working from home offices and other locales.

Don’t fight it. Embrace it. You have everything to gain from a distributed workforce, including and especially access to talent which might otherwise be inaccessible in a more traditional workplace.


About The Author

Max Emelianov started HostForWeb in 2001. In his role as HostForWeb’s CEO, he focuses on teamwork and providing the best support for his customers while delivering cutting-edge web hosting services.


Smart Recruit Online offers an award-winning talent attraction software that can streamline and revolutionise your recruitment. To find out what we can to for your recruitment strategy, book a demo by clicking here.

Book A Demo

Max Emelianov

Max Emelianov started HostForWeb in 2001. In his role as HostForWeb’s CEO, he focuses on teamwork and providing the best support for his customers while delivering cutting-edge web hosting services.

UK Recruitment Industry launches NHS Initiative
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Without a doubt, the Coronavirus has hit UK businesses hard and in less than two weeks the recruitment industry has effectively been brought to its knees with online revenues being reduced by around 70% – almost literally, overnight.

Commenting on the crisis Mark Stephens, CEO at Smart Recruit Online (SRO) said, “Despite the issues we’re all facing at the moment we’re united in our battle to fight through this crisis, along with other industry sectors that have been hit just as hard and, in some cases, even worse than us.

On the front line, fighting the effects of this virus on a humanitarian level, are the NHS and its brave and courageous staff.  Unfortunately, they are already light on numbers as many NHS staff have contracted the virus and are now in isolation.  This is placing massive amounts of pressure on those remaining to cope with increasing casualties and a growing problem.

“Recruiting replacements and volunteers is a major challenge and the UK recruitment industry, despite its own predicament, is stepping up to do what it can to support this NHS staffing crisis.”

Mark has brought together recruitment industry leaders and has created a recruitment initiative which he is now driving forward.  Adds Mark, “Initially I decided to use the spare capacity I have within my own business to help address the front-line staffing issues affecting the NHS right now.  Then, I approached some of the major Job Boards to establish whether there was an appetite for a collaborative effort and the initiative was soon up and running.”

SRO will provide NHS Hospitals and Trusts with free access to its award-winning recruitment system, tools, screening and support services and the Job Boards and media channels have agreed to provide free advertising for NHS jobs posted from within the SRO platform.

Commenting on why he has created this initiative Mark says, “We are in a privileged position where our businesses can combine our efforts to help and support the NHS, without actually placing ourselves into harms’ way.  The NHS and its staff are amazing.  They are our front line troops in protecting the most vulnerable and those affected by this virus.  We are proud to be part of the UK recruitment sector that has put aside its own difficulties and challenges to collaborate on such a worthwhile initiative.”

Theakreh Mosley, Talent Acquisition Lead, NHS Property Services who is tasked with recruiting hundreds of replacement staff across the UK for administrators, cleaners and kitchen staff said, “You guys are amazing.  Thank you so much, we really appreciate your help through this initiative.”

So how will SRO and its collaborators be able to help the NHS?  Mark explains, “The SRO platform will act as central cloud-based, plug and play recruitment system.  It is designed to make the recruitment of staff simpler and more effective than any other means of recruiting staff online.  The system is integrated with the latest AI, Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics to automate large parts of the recruitment process so that it delivers a better user and applicant experience and will save NHS recruiters lots of time during their screening and selection process.  The system also comes pre-integrated with some of the latest recruitment screening tools too, including dynamic forms, video profiling, behavioural assessments and reference and ID checking.  The video technology enables remote interviewing capability and SRO, uniquely, allows clients to onboard and complete basic training in less than an hour.  This is something that will prove critical in maximising the number of NHS functions that will be able to take advantage of this service and offer.

“The SRO platform is fully integrated with leading Recruitment Technology provided by Broadbean and Burning Glass that will allow NHS recruiters to rapidly create and post job adverts, manage and screen applicants effectively and quickly for front line NHS positions.  This will all be complemented by free national recruitment advertising media provided by the UK’s leading job boards including CV Library, Reed, Totaljobs, Guardian Jobs, Monster and JobsToday.  With such a strong collaboration, we are confident that we’ll be able to positively contribute to the recruitment of key NHS staff that are essential in enabling us to fight  Coronavirus.”


Quotes generated By Industry Leaders on this initiative:


Lee Biggins, founder and CEO of CV-Library added, “These are truly challenging times and sadly the recruitment industry is feeling the effects.  However, we’re also part of the solution.  By harnessing our expertise and working together with companies like Smart Recruit Online we can help the NHS to tackle what lies ahead and recruit the front line staff our country so desperately needs.  We’re delighted to be a part of this initiative and to help push these roles in front of the 15 million candidates in our database, including 1.1 million healthcare professionals.”

Ruth Edwards, Business Development Director at Talent in Logistics commented saying, “Dealing with the outbreak of Covid-19 is a big enough challenge for the logistics sector.  There is a high demand on the supply chain, with the need to keep shops, hospitals and fuel stations stocked.  In these unusual times, we understand that extra resource and staff are needed to fulfil operational and delivery requirements and are, therefore, delighted to be part of this important initiative.”

“Our goals are clear,” concluded Mark.  “We will assist the NHS wherever we can in the recruitment of staff to ensure that front line positions are filled quickly.”


How you can help


  • NHS – If you work within the NHS and need to recruit front line staff, then call 0800 634 1818 and speak to the Smart Recruit Online team who will get you set up quickly and your jobs live within 24 hours.



  • General public – Please share this information with your entire network.  We need to get this message in front of as many NHS recruiting staff as possible

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