Headhunting for MNCs virtually non-existent

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    Job placements declined by as much as 80 percent of previously announced openings following the lockdown.

    Human resource executives said this outlines the extent to which the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the labor market.

    This also reflects the 17.7 percent unemployment rate in the country’s quarterly jobs survey done in April by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

    In the PSA’s April Labor Force Survey, the unemployed numbered at 7.25 million for the period, compared to just 2.27 million for the same period last year, a 220 percent increase, or an additional 5 million jobless at the height of the quarantine restriction in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

    Nomer Calara, talent and client engagement specialist at Par Excellence Search Consulting Inc., which services the manpower needs of multinational companies, said the deferment of talent search in most companies displays the impact of the pandemic on the jobs market.

    “As a headhunter for multinational companies, COVID-19 has a huge and visible effects in the economy. With regards to the hiring percentage, almost 70 to 80 percent of active requirements/projects I’ve been working on were put on-hold,” Calara said.

    “Companies are prioritizing certain roles that can help their business survive this pandemic.

    Some companies also offer early retirement for their tenured employees. Some are doing skeletal workforce to reduce the expenses. They have also reduced the compensation for about 30-50 percent of their monthly salary,” he added.

    Calara noted that “more than 190 companies” in the country have declare permanent closure, “which highly affects thousands of employees and add up to the continuing number of unemployed Filipinos.”

    George Tarca, managing director at RGF Executive Search, said no industry in the country was spared by the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of job placement, with 60 percent of RGF’s clientele ordering an abrupt suspension of search for talents weeks after the lockdown was imposed in mid-March.

    Among the sectors that RGF services are industrial and manufacturing companies, information technology and business process outsourcing, digital market consumer and health care.

    “With the lockdown declaration sudden, companies’ response were also very sudden. At the onset of April, 60 percent of all our clients told us they’re putting on hold their job openings,” said Tarca.

    “Even now, the big companies still have their openings on hold,” he added.

    The remaining 40 percent meanwhile have opted to keep their positions open but appear to have slowed down the selection process, according to Tarca.

    “The opportunities right now are very minimal. For those who have kept their positions open, they are only looking for replacements. They aren’t actually expanding,” he said.

    However, Tarca said companies have started revisiting their job plans as of July, with many looking for talents in the digital and online market, in response to the change in business environment.

    “But it’s early to tell,” he said.

    Following the high unemployment rate reported in April, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in June it will take two to three years for the employment situation to improve.

    Bello said the Department of Labor and Employment’s Job Displacement Report showed 79,647 Filipinos permanently lost their jobs following the closure of 2,611 businesses. (R. Castro)