Groundhog Day and Recruiting Through Disruption


With most of America in lockdown, there’s a lot to stress about for the average worker.  

Over 17 million Americans became suddenly unemployed over the past three weeks. Those of us lucky enough to still have a job are facing a lot of questions no one can answer, from “is my livelihood in jeopardy?” to “am I putting my health (or the health of my loved ones) at risk by going to work?”

There isn’t a person out there that hasn’t been affected by COVID-19. It’s not only impacted our security and our livelihoods, it’s threatened our health and the safety of our families and affected our mental wellbeing.

With so much happening outside of our control, it’s easy to understand why we struggling to just handle things within it!

Like everyone else, recruiters are also dealing with anxiety and uncertainty as we navigate this challenging time. With the market suddenly “frozen” and hiring at a standstill, the candidates they speak with can be frightened or discouraged.

I work with recruiters who love their role because they provide people opportunity, guidance and hope. There’s nothing more hope-filled and life-changing than getting that much-needed job or maybe finding your dream career. Unfortunately for most recruiters, right now there are very few dream roles to offer.

If recruiters don’t embrace what they can offer candidates right now, every day can become a little more discouraging.

The Groundhog Day Effect

Our current situation reminds me of the movie Groundhog Day a lot. Bill Murray’s unhappy weatherman Phil Conners who is stuck in a time-loop in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania reminds me a lot of the state many of us are in today. It feels like we’ve been dealing with this crisis for an eternity already, but it’s only been months. According to Harold Ramis, the movie’s director, Phil was stuck in his loop for 30 years or more!

But the difference is this: Phil may not have been physically locked down, like so many of us are right now, but his perspective was so singularly self-focused that he couldn’t figure out how to escape.

That is, until he began to care.

When Phil comes across an ailing homeless man and attempts to save him—over and over again and failing each time--he finally realizes that there are some things he just can’t change.

And just how important it is to affect the things he can change.

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Changing The Things We Can

I got a call from a candidate the other day who was simply trying to find someone to speak with about a position he had applied for. While I might not have been the person he was looking for, I’m glad we got the opportunity to connect.

“Jerry” had been in the workforce for over 50 years—his last position, 20—and had never been without a job before. He was entering a job landscape that was totally unfamiliar to him and wanted some advice. What is included in today’s cover letter? What is a keyword? Do people still read resumes, or just machines?

I’ve talked with Jerry a couple of times over the past week. Yes, we worked through his cover letter and resume, but what he needed most was just a little emotional accompaniment on this journey. It costs nothing but time.

Recruiters Create Human Connections

Video - See Talent Acquisition Leaders discuss sourcingOur ability to take action, to help others that are weathering the same crisis, and to show them some empathy and understanding didn’t require a 30-year trek like Groundhog Day’s Phil Conner’s.

Because there isn’t a recruiter out there that doesn’t have a story much like Jerry’s. Each call is answered with great patience, understanding and real kindness. It makes me extremely proud to know that – no matter what they’re struggling with that day –it will never surpass their desire to help others. It speaks to the values these professional live by.

It also speaks to the respect they have for the clients they serve. Recruiters who can authentically connect with candidates and make them feel valued is the best brand advocate any company can have.

Over the next few months, every company’s employer brand will be tested. Great recruiters know that how you treat candidates today will impact your talent brand in the long run — and will either make it easier or harder to attract candidates when you’re ready to start hiring again. 


Written by Kathie Sandlin

Brand Marketing Manager for Newton Talent, Kathie has worked in marketing and communications for over 30 years and has created award-winning employment brands and strategies for companies coast to coast. She is part of the Newton Team creating recruitment marketing solutions that help our clients attract, engage, nurture and convert more applicants.
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