Talent Post Covid-19
1st May by Quinton Seamann
Quinton Seemann is Search Lead at AAW and is well known in our sector for being an absolute legend when it comes to identifying and securing talent.
With over 20 years of search experience in the UK and Australia, working both agency side and as an in-house recruiter for INGOs including Save the Children and Marie Stopes International, Quinton knows a lot about the dynamics of recruitment and how world events impact on the overall market.
Quinton was working at Save the Children during the financial crisis of 2008, which saw a significant influx of talent from the commercial to the not-for-profit sector.
Some of this was as a result of redundancies in the financial sector and the need to find a job, but a lot was also due to the fact that the crisis triggered Senior Executives to reflect on their own careers and values, with the not-for-profit sector being an attractive option.
The COVID 19 emergency will create perhaps an even more significant shift.
Below Quinton reflects on the value that commercial crossover candidates can bring to the not-for-profit sector.
The 2008 Crisis & Its Impact on Talent
From a staffing and recruitment perspective, the current crisis is a little bit of history repeating itself. As in 2008, the upcoming period represents ‘a once in a decade’ opportunity for people to change their career direction.
I was at Save the Children during the 2008 financial crisis as the organisation’s in-house recruiter. It was during a period of immense growth and development for Save the Children and I was working directly with the then CEO, Jasmine Whitbread and the Fundraising Director, Tanya Steele to bring new talent into the charity to help accelerate income, impact and visibility.
Then, as now, commercial executives were having a big think about the future: that secure, well paid job making shareholders richer and the environment poorer, had come to an end, or at least is looking a lot less secure. There is time to reflect whether buying a bigger house or upgrading the car will really make them happy. The prospect of giving back to society, of doing something worthwhile and fulfilling becomes increasingly attractive.
Wives, husbands and partners were tactfully spoken to, household finances calculated, bonuses removed, all with the thought, “If I don’t do it now, I never will”.
Although the 2008 crash had a pretty negative impact on almost every business including the not-for-profit sector, for charities such as Save the Children who were looking to still grow sustainably during the recession, the resulting impact on injecting much needed talent into the sector was a very good news item.
2020 and Beyond
And here we are again.
Over the coming weeks and months, many highly talented and experienced individuals will approach you and agencies such as AAW seeking opportunities and wanting chats. Beware! Some individuals may be doing it too hastily - they will not have thought through what life is like without bonuses, lunches and share options and they will retreat as quickly as they arrived.
However, there will be others that have done the research, understand the implications and will realise this is a career-defining moment.
There are obvious areas where experience is more transferable than others, finance, marketing and fundraising for example. However, with the severity of this downturn there will be an opportunity to engage with highly skilled career changers across the whole leadership spectrum.
I urge the charity sector to cautiously open their arms to these career changers, I know from experience that they will add a huge amount of value to your organisation.
Sift the wheat from the chaff, look for those who are genuinely committed to the sector. Are they already involved as a trustee or volunteer? Do they understand what the role / not for profit sector involves? How do they see their skills transferring? Do they have the soft skills? Are they really ready for a pay cut?
And to the airline executive, banker and music mogul I met in 2008, I thank you for all you have brought to the not for profit sector.
I and my colleagues at AAW are ready in anticipation to do it all again.