Lockdown IT Recruitment update November 2020

Since our last update earlier this year (May 2020), a lot has happened.  We’re now in Lockdown 2.0 – although you mightn’t know it.  I was in the supermarket yesterday and it was just as packed as ever, and with just as much traffic on the roads as before.

This week’s news blends positivity (vaccine hopes) with the opposite (record redundancies).  What are we to make of it?  How has it affected the IT Recruitment market in general, and us in particular as a Midlands IT recruitment specialist?


In May most of our clients put permanent recruitment on hold while they worked out what was happening.  Now we have a healthy book of permanent roles, and we have more contractors working than we did at the start of the year.  August is usually quiet because of school summer holidays, but we actually had our busiest August period ever – although it’s slowed down since then.  The recent half-term, plus a second lockdown and the fact that Christmas is only 40-odd days away, all mean that permanent recruitment levels are slightly below normal for this time of year.  In addition, the furlough scheme was supposed to be winding up at the end of October, although it had a last-minute extension.

Are we typical of the whole market?   More or less.  According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) for data collected 12th – 26th October, permanent placements dropped in October, but temp billings continued to rise sharply.

The Midlands IT recruitment market has outperformed other areas, it seems.  Here’s the REC report:

Some of our clients in the hardest-hit industries haven’t recruited at all since the beginning of the year.  Travel, retail and hospitality are obvious casualties.  However, no client of ours has actually stopped trading and the recent positive news about vaccine developments gives some cause for optimism.

I’ll reiterate the advice I gave back in May, which still applies:

  • Tip 1: if you anticipate needing extra people in the next few weeks or months, now is a good time to start thinking about building a pipeline of candidates.
  • Tip 2: IT people are more used to working from home than most other types, and are usually set up for it. Don’t let the lockdown period put you off recruiting in this area, if you have a need.

IT Job seekers

Candidates are still outnumbering jobs at the moment, and more so after this week’s grim news about redundancies.  But unemployment is less now than it was in 2008, although perhaps the furlough scheme is masking the extent of this.  The IT market is less affected than other certain sectors, but the fact is that any business that IS recruiting is likely to be able to attract a good number of applicants.  The usual recruitment challenges still apply, though, and people who are in secure jobs appear reluctant to change, so there may not be quite as much competition as you think, especially if you’re a software developer looking for permanent work.

Tip 1: If you’re not working, consider using this time to improve your skills / adding a qualification.  There are plenty of online resources out there, some of which are free.  For example:

Open University


Tip 2: Now is a good time to brush up your LinkedIn profile – and also to build your network.  People seem more receptive to connection requests at the moment, if pitched appropriately.

IT Recruitment agencies

Some IT recruitment agencies have really suffered this year – mainly those without a video interviewing service and with too many layers of management.

We’ve been OK.  We’re all still working from home and doing our interviews remotely, using a combination of telephone and Hinterview, a video interviewing tool that makes the contactless recruitment process much easier.  We’ve been using this product for a couple of years, and I can see it (or rival offerings) becoming much more mainstream in the very near future.

Tip 1: if you’re a recruiter, keep in touch with your clients and candidates but be sensitive to people’s situations.

Tip 2: if you’re a recruiter trying to work AND look after children who’ve been sent home from school to isolate, accept that you will be less than 100% productive.

New normal

So that’s the situation as we see it, and I know we as a Midlands IT recruitment agency are fortunate to be able to carry on trading during this period, to be healthy, and to be able to spend time with our families while others on the front line are putting themselves at risk.

Feel free to get in touch if you have IT recruitment needs.  And stay safe!