The last couple of months have been incredibly tumultuous, and our lives have all been disrupted to an extent. Employers in particular have experienced a heightened period of uncertainty and instability, and been forced to respond at pace to an ever-changing landscape brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Employer Engagement team, we have been in contact with employers to understand what the potential impact on LSE students might be so we can help support you.
Employers have been forced to adjust, but many are taking different approaches
Since the Government announced the official lockdown on 23 March, we have seen employers adjust their recruitment activities in line with the current circumstances. Face to face events (on campus or at company offices) were cancelled and have subsequently morphed into virtual events or webinars. Spring weeks were mostly cancelled with some being moved online and the nature of internships has changed significantly.
Selection processes have continued with assessment centres moving online, the consequences being that candidates can go through the entire process and secure a position without meeting their future employers in person. We know candidates use their experiences at interviews and assessment centres to decide which organisation to join and employers are considering the implications of maintaining activities they have moved online when things get back to the ‘new normal’.
Summer internships have been most significantly affected. Initially, employers were hopeful that internships could proceed as planned, or that they might simply be slightly delayed. This has changed as we’ve approached the summer with restrictions still in place. Some employers have sought to host their internships by delivering them virtually, which has resulted in some communication delays as they battle with the logistical challenges of setting up programmes remotely. Unfortunately, some employers have taken the decision to cancel their internships, leaving students in difficult situations. Some employers have committed to paying interns what they would have earnt over the summer and/or guaranteeing a position on their graduate schemes next year. Others, wary that the benefit to students might be reduced in a virtual internship, have offered the opportunity to have a professional mentor from the organisation instead.
Online events can be opportunities to gain insight into the job market
By the time the lockdown was announced, employers who recruit large numbers of graduates had either finished their graduate recruitment or were finalising it, which meant it was an easy decision to cancel remaining recruitment and networking events that were due to take place in Lent term. Employers are however using this time to host more webinars and online events than they usually would at this time of year. These are a great opportunity to learn more about the company and get advice for future applications. They are being promoting LSE students through the events board.
In previous years, employers would now be finalising their recruitment budgets for the year ahead and making plans for the on-campus activity in Michaelmas term. Despite the uncertainty, employers have still been booking onto careers fairs due to take place in Michaelmas term. We’ll need to see if those events go ahead in their existing form, but employers are keen to replace that activity with something virtual should restrictions prevent them taking place in person.
There is obvious uncertainty about how future levels of recruitment will be impacted across different sectors but over the next month we expect to hear more from employers about their recruitment plans for the next year. One major law firm said they don’t think the outbreak will affect their graduate programme as they are typically recruiting a couple of years in advance. It might be that the number of internships offered in the future are more affected than the number of graduate roles.
A lot depends on unknown factors with this pandemic, but in these unprecedented times the Employer Engagement team are continuing to have conversations with employers about their recruitment and they are posting live roles on the vacancy board. We know summer exams are on the horizon, but we encourage you to use CareerHub to search and apply for opportunities of interest.