I’ve had the misfortune (or fortune, if you’re perverse) of living through a few major global crises.
I founded Jobing.com in 2000, a year before the internet bubble burst and sent the stock market into a downward spiral. Thankfully, we survived. Heck, we even grew through it. But then 2007 and 2008 came, and almost every business found itself in a less-than-desirable financial position, especially ones dependent on discretionary job-ad spending on month-to-month contracts.
Yeah, don’t invite me to Vegas. I have interesting timing.
But if those experiences taught me anything, it’s that we’re a resilient, creative species. When things get ugly, we tend to hunker down, re-focus, and find ways to make the most of bad situations. Disney was incorporated during the Great Depression. Microsoft and Apple were founded in 1975, when the U.S. economy flatlined after years of growth. Whatsapp, Venmo, Slack, and Uber were created soon after the Great Recession. There are countless other examples of business greatness that emerged from darkness.
Here’s the point: Recessions hurt. I’ve felt that pain, and there are certainly millions of people feeling it now. But these moments can also create incredible opportunities to pause, reflect, and get ahead of where the world is moving.
Get Creative, Embrace Transformation
Let’s start by acknowledging the obvious.
Some teams — like those who work for airline or hospitality brands — have bigger fish to fry. No amount of creativity or digital transformation in the near-term will suddenly fill airplanes with passengers or restaurants with patrons. Talent teams at those companies are heads-down helping their business figure out how to survive. And they should be.
But there are plenty of organizations that are hiring or, at a minimum, are simply waiting for the storm to pass to step on the gas again. For those companies, taking this time to examine current processes and systems can go a long way toward preparing for the bounceback — whenever that might be.
Before I dive into what that future might look like, let’s get on the same page about what we know:
- We know that the way we work has permanently changed. Debates about the tenability of remote work or virtual experiences aren’t really debates anymore. That’s not to say that every company will (or should) allow every employee to work from home permanently, but I think we’re past the point of hypothesizing if remote work will become part of our cultural norm.
- We know that recruiting and talent teams aren’t walking into a future with a pot of gold and more resources on the other side. In all likelihood, the vast majority of teams will be asked to do more with less. That doesn’t mean heads will roll. It means you’ll be expected to do new kinds of work (read: more work) than you were doing before. (As far as I know, we haven’t figured out how to clone ourselves yet.)
- We know that digital transformation isn’t some dumb buzzword. PwC’s 2020 Global Digital IQ report found that companies with the deepest commitment to digital transformation see 17% higher profit margin growth and are 200% more likely than other companies to attract and retain top talent. Some recruiting and HR teams are creating real value by finding creative ways to use digital technologies to transform existing processes and experiences. (A little tip from a CEO: When you find ways to do that, you kind of make yourself indispensable.)
If we accept these things as reality, the natural next question is this: What are we going to do about it? Continue reading here…