Job Hunting in a Pandemic: Why You Should Consider Working with a Recruiter

If you’re considering a career change in the new year, you’re in luck. Companies are still hiring. While many, particularly those in service industries, have been hard hit by the pandemic and associated economic slowdown, a surprising number of companies are adding people and not just for a handful of positions. In a November hiring report from ZipRecruiter, Amazon, Anthem, Oracle, IBM, and DoorDash are just a few companies looking to fill thousands of jobs.

If those companies are not quite what you’re looking for, don’t worry. There are a number of lesser known companies seeking candidates with specialized industry knowledge; specific technical, operational or management expertise; and experience in growing and transforming organizations. They’re hiring and more than willing to pay top salaries for the right people.

Here’s the challenge for pandemic jobseekers: the most desirable positions are often the most difficult to find. If you do identify something that looks like a great career fit, finding a transparent, timely path to the people doing the actual hiring is pretty much impossible. Sites like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and yes, even LinkedIn, that promise to connect you to a great career can be maddening. Submitting resumes through these sites is akin to tossing one’s resume into an abyss.

Rather than throw in the towel, there’s a much more effective pandemic job search strategy, particularly for those seeking roles in specialized industries: Partner and connect with an HR Recruiter. Here’s why you should consider it.

 ONE. Recruiters in specific industries know about openings long before they are postedif they ever are.

Top-level HR recruiters have the inside track on the best career openings in the industries they focus on. For example, Kaizen HR Solutions, my company, has deep experience working in the plastics, packaging, chemical, and manufacturing industries. Top HR recruiters maintain ongoing relationships with companies that know us as experts in their industries, who understand their unique talent requirements, and invest time in learning their corporate and hiring strategies. When positions open up, rather than advertise them online, the C-suite or HR team call in their trusted recruiter to source the right candidates.

Why not open a position up to the world? Wouldn’t this offer more choice in candidates? The answer is yes, but more choice doesn’t equate to better candidates. What it does represent is a huge time suck in terms of reviewing resumes, screening and vetting candidates, and finally identifying those to interview. With corporate HR teams operating as lean teams, it simply isn’t feasible to open high-levels positions to all comers when a highly capable, focused recruiter can bring it qualified candidates without advertising the position.

Bottomline, if you’re looking for a position within a specific industry, find an HR recruiter in that space. We have the inside track on current and future openings.


TWO. Recruiters have the inside track on what an employer is looking for in terms of overall hiring strategy and the desired hard and soft skills.

Top-level HR recruiters know more than just what jobs are open. We know exactly what our client companies are looking for in future employees. This includes technical expertise, past experience, and soft skills such as leadership and self-motivation. During 2020, employers—and thus their HR recruiters—prized two soft skillsets rose above all others: adaptability and empathy. Here’s why.


If you saw the movie 1917, navigating 2020 was a lot like running through a World War 1 minefield. Just when companies thought they were in the clear, another disruption would explode and they’d have to change direction, tactics, or even an entire strategy to survive. For example, one packaging company was enjoying record orders thanks to a major shift in consumers’ buying patterns only to have a plant shut down due to an outbreak of COVID cases. Thankfully, the VP of operations and plant manager had built up their inventory in anticipation of just such an issue and were able to soldier on, adapt to the short-term challenge, and fill orders until the plant came back online. The second soft skillset, empathy, has been absolutely essential given the stress and anxiety across organizations.


A top HR recruiter knows how to find candidates with critical soft skills like these that online algorithms don’t pick up. And that’s because HR recruiters know our clients and also have time-tested people skills that enables us to get to the heart of a candidate and their abilities. This “inside track” works for both the client employer and candidates as only qualified candidates are brought forward to the client. In other words, no time is wasted! The process is quick and transparent.


THREE. HR recruiters are selective in who we represent.

HR recruiters are competitive people. We love to win. And winning our game means finding and placing top talent with our client companies. As a result, we are selective in the candidates we choose to represent. I know in my own firm, every candidate I bring to a client company must be a perfect fit for the position. So I set a very high bar for the talent I represent.


If you are experienced at what you do, have a strong track record and marketable skills, this selectivity works in your favor. A top-level HR recruiter reaches the top level based on quality candidates and thus works hard to connect with and represent talented people. We’re selective because we want to get you hire and we want you to succeed with our client companies. Are career sites selective? Not really. Do they take a personal interest in your getting hired? Not really. An HR recruiter has skin in the game that no job site ever will.

As you’re considering an HR recruiter, you have to be selective, too. Look for one who specializes in your industry. Look at the companies they represent. Look at their open positions. Then ask yourself one question: do I fit here? If yes, don’t be shy. You’re a hot commodity. Reach out and start a conversation.


FOUR. Top HR recruiters will want to establish a relationship with you even if you’re only passively looking.

Timing is everything. No one understands that better than top HR recruiters. That’s why we constantly encourage people in our specialty industries to connect and have a conversation about career aspirations even if the person isn’t actively looking to switch jobs. The reason? As secure or as happy as you are today, you just never know when you might need a new job.

Case in point…I had spoken with an individual whose company had him working remotely due to COVID so he relocated to Chicago to be closer to family. It was the perfect set-up until his employer called him back into the office to work—in Cleveland. Wanting to stay in Chicago, he went from passive to active jobseeker. Fortunately, due to our relationship and understanding what he brings to the table, I was able to connect him to a great company in his industry and desired location pretty quickly.

If 2020 has taught us anything it’s to prepare for the unexpected. Your current career role may be perfect, but something unexpected like a global pandemic can change everything in a heartbeat. It is not disloyal to your current company to talk to an HR recruiter. Given the unprecedented disruptions of 2020, it’s actually a very smart, proactive thing to do that can help you handle whatever comes your way. Top HR recruiters are discrete and respect your privacy, the things that make for mutually beneficial relationships.


 FIVE: Look at a recruiter’s KPIs before choosing who to work with.

There are many HR recruiting firms out there eager to work with talented individuals. Once you’ve identified those who place candidates in your industry and in positions at your experience level, there’s one last thing to check. Do they get results? The key performance indicators to look at are:

  • Average time to fill a position
  • Number of candidates per placement
  • Placement retention

Top-level HR recruiters require less time to fill positions for two reasons. They understand their client company’s needs and they have relationships with qualified candidates. Also, top HR recruiters typically only bring forth a handful of candidates to their client companies. Again, we know our clients and our candidates. Finally, placement retention (how long the jobseeker stays with the company) is important as it is a reflection of the quality of the placement for the client company and candidate.


If you are planning to job hunt in 2021 and even if you’re not, an HR recruiter can make a stressful process easier and much more successful. Do some research upfront and connect with those who are the best fit in terms of industries they specialize in and their results. And, make sure you include Kaizen HR Solutions in your research. If you think we’re a potential fit, schedule a conversation here. All the best in 2021!

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