Bulletin: Coronavirus and the Job Market

This is the perfect storm. We are at the start of a pandemic and a recession. Nothing is the same as it was just a few weeks ago, and no one knows what the job market – or life — will be like a few weeks from now.

The good news is that the job market is not dead. Law firms and corporations are still hiring. As one source told me, “when there’s a job that needs to get done and you don’t have enough people to do it, you add to your staff, virus or not.”

We have been surveying legal and executive recruiters, hiring executives and law firm partners to get a fix on what’s happening in the job market.

One legal recruiter who specializes in in-house placements said they still have active job orders to fill, and in fact, job orders are still coming in. A partner at a Big Law firm said they have candidates in the pipeline and are intending to continue making offers. Another recruiter said some firms are telling him to “keep looking” for candidates, while other firms are telling they are putting things on a “let’s wait and see” basis.

Interviewing, of course, is now being done on-line. One source said he was told that final hiring decisions wouldn’t be made until a face-to-face interview, which may just be a way for a company to hedge its bets and lock up a candidate without having to actually start paying them.

The possibility of layoffs was raised by some of the people I spoke with, but at the law firms and among senior corporate executives, the sense was that layoffs would more likely to effect the lower echelon workers, not the more senior ones. Another person said his firm does not like to lay people off, but instead would consider salary cuts if necessary.

Our general feeling is that it makes sense to continue on a job search – or to launch one – at least for now. Firms and companies are hiring.

If the Coronavirus spikes and makes it even more important that we all “shelter at home,” it would almost certainly bring the hiring market to a standstill, and there’d be no point in doing an aggressive search.

However, this perfect storm will not last forever. Severe or not, if the virus abates within a relatively short time, I predict there will be a pent-up demand for talent and great deal of new hiring going on. If the virus doesn’t let up after a few months, it could be a very different story.

We will continue our research into the hiring climate, and hope to be able to prepare a decent “think piece” on this unprecedented situation. Right now, there’s not enough time, but I will get to it. In the meantime, we will continue talking with hiring managers and keeping you advised of our findings. I would certainly welcome any input from our readers out there, especially those who do hiring. Everyone stay well. This too shall pass. — Blackwell.