Impact and Recovery

The French Market - Out of 2020 & Into 2021.

2020: A  Year of Contrasts

The French job market was heavily impacted by Covid-19 in 2020.

The country had a first lock down from mid-March to mid-May and a second lighter one in November.

Key figures show a dip in Q2 and rebound in Q3. Compared to 2019, jobs openings were at -40% (Q2) against +55% (Q3). This shows that the market massively compensated the losses on Q2.

This phenomenon repeats itself across almost every major specialism and sector, from middle to top management positions. The same figures appear for permanent and temporary contracts.

However, for 2020 as a whole, the total figure of newly created jobs is -18% compared to 2019.

Job Openings & Candidate Shortages

The massive difference between Q2 and Q3 created a very unpredictable market on different aspects: jobs and candidates’ availability.

After the world stopped for a few weeks in Spring 2020, we had a paucity of new assignments one month, and then of candidates the next. Clients put on hold every project, before opening positions little by little.

Every non urgent matter was postponed, and we waited patiently until further notice.

Then, in September/October, recruitment started again. Suddenly, we were retained on assignments left and right, but still we struggled with just a few candidates.

Were candidates unavailable? No, on the contrary. They were very open to discuss job opportunities. They were curious and eager to know about the market. First contact was easier than ever, but no one wanted to take the risk to go forward. A probation period was simply deemed too risky.

How to react?

As a ship on a stormy sea, we vowed to stay on course. When nothing is predictable, you can only rely on what you know. More than ever was the time to be a consultant: provide good counsel, keep our clients close, engage with them, communicate and give trusted insights.

Actively managing candidates and clients was crucial. As the recruitment processes became shorter, candidates became more unpredictable so we needed to make the process as smooth as possible.

What Next?

2021 started fast.

We must act proactively. We need to see what's coming: clients are already adapting, and this ever changing situation is our new reality.

As the situation is unusual and unpredictable, we tend more than ever to think for our clients. We must be there for them and keep on delivering the best service possible. We are all making this reality our new reality.

Julien Wilhelm
Partner France

The old year has gone…

a New Year has arrived.

Little did we know a year ago what the year 2020 would bring, but all too soon we learned…

Never before in modern times has our way of life, our freedoms and our expectations have been so collectively and adversely affected. For far too many it was suddenly sink or swim. All areas of business have been affected, including our own.

Having said that, I am enormously proud of what we in Friisberg have accomplished. In this harsh reality in which we have all been forced to operate, we have not only survived, but through hard and focused work we have strengthened our position and continued our strategic expansion.

Events throughout 2020 forced our clients to rethink, restructure and change. Many things we all took for granted before the pandemic have altered and will continue to shift in the months ahead.

Companies with global footprints and those who do international business have been forced to change their traveling habits and we have all adapted to virtual meetings. Perhaps traditional face-to-face meetings will now only be used for when you are establishing new relations, or for ceremonial reasons from time to time such as opening a new site?

Business have already started to rethink and change the way they “go to market” and actively embracing emerging technologies will undoubtedly speed up the digitalisation of sales. That development is inevitable.

We have all adapted and learned quickly because we were forced to. Looking forward, I am convinced that the changes we already have seen will remain – I don’t think we will ever go back to how it was “before” - we have all learned by doing not from some seminar that was forced upon us.

All this “new” means businesses need the right people and processes to be able to perform and develop:

Some businesses will adapt quickly, but for some it will take a little longer. Some businesses already have the right key people in place whereas it is becoming ever clearer that some do not.

So, although the future is here, 2021 will just be the start in terms of how we consolidate the changes.

I am delighted to confirm that Friisberg is now better placed and more ready than ever to continue our growth strategy, and to support our clients locally and globally.

Peter Strandberg

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