What did I achieve in lockdown?

I write this blog exactly 20 weeks into ‘lockdown’ and the headlines are still dominated by the continued impact of the virus. Whilst restrictions are being slowly lifted (and in some cases reinstated) it is clear that a return to our once ‘free’ lives is still a while off.

In my capacity as a recruiter I have been speaking to a wide range of people over the last 20 weeks, from candidates that are either working or furloughed to those who have been made redundant or in the process of redundancy. One common theme throughout these conversations is how people are coping with the impact of the virus and also how they are utilising the time to their advantage. There is certainly more time and opportunity for reflection as the pace of life for most people, apart from key workers and those working with young children to look after, will have slowed down to some degree.

Some of my conversations have centred around what to do next in terms of career; people usually find themselves at a crossroads with a desire to move in a new direction. In these cases I am there to offer advice and act as a sounding board for any ideas they may have. Some conversations have covered ideas on how to utilise the time to further develop skills or gain new skills. In most cases these skills directly benefit their careers, in others it is trying something new that takes them away from their work life in some way.

In writing this blog I have been challenged to really think about what I have personally achieved in the last 20 weeks.

Work gains 

Despite the documented drop in activity with our core recruitment services, I have personally achieved quite a bit in the last 20 weeks. I didn’t think I had before I took the time to document what I have done in this blog – 20 weeks seems like a lot.

Red Tiger revenue in lockdown

The other two thirds of Red Tiger Talent was furloughed for the first month so I was essentially manning the fort with a variety of tasks: doing the admin, planning new initiatives, writing blogs, dealing with enquiries and, of course, speaking to people.

It’s good to talk – During this time I have been averaging five conversations a day with clients (existing or potential) or candidates (existing or new).  That means I have spoken to at least 500 people during lockdown.   That is more people than I have friends on Facebook.   These conversations have been everything from careers advice, dealing with redundancy, general chats about weather/football/lockdown, to supporting those suffering with mental health issues. 

The mother of all databases – ‘Libraries gave us Power’ as the Manic Street Preachers say on their song A Design for Life.  Red Tiger Talent’s library is twofold – it is the knowledge and contacts that Paul and I have in our heads and the second is our Recruitment CRM which contains extensive details of many candidates in our area of expertise.  It is never complete – there are always new candidates to add, and it is never up to date – people do naturally leave roles and start in new positions, but we constantly strive to ensure that this captures not only the skills and experiences of candidates but all information shared across the recruitment process. 

New ideas have been formulated – There is no doubt that it has been a good time for ideas. The challenge for Red Tiger Talent is to prioritise the development of these ideas and progress them from ideas to tangible business propositions.  Watch this space – some will be launched in the not too distant future (not sure why I suddenly had the urge to become all cryptic!). 

Excel training for the masses – This started as an idea to deliver face-to-face to university students and has evolved into a proven, focused online training course for beginner or intermediate Excel users, aimed at anyone wishing to boost their confidence and mastery of Excel.  We have had young to old participants, novice to experienced Excel users and we really thrive on the feedback on how our training has made a real tangible difference to their Excel knowledge and confidence.   The plan now is to supplement this training with a number of other courses (either in Excel, GIS, data analytics or a range of softer skills). 

Completed Zoom – I feel there are 3 levels of Zoom user

  • There are the Zoom clickers who click on a link and generally know how to mute/hide video and not much else. 
  • The second level is the Zoom enthusiast that certainly has a good knowledge of the standard user interface (these are the ones that mess around with the different backgrounds).  
  • I am firmly in the third and highest level – the Zoom Master – who not only can manage all the standard functionality, but can also work with some of the backend functionality, such as breakout rooms, recording and polling (Meeting Admin essentially). 

Which kind of Zoom user are you?

Home wins 

Alcohol free for 1.5 months – I decided that after spending April trying to drink and eat myself to death (rather than succumb to Covid-19) that it would be good to have a period of abstinence to alcohol. One month is for losers, so I decided to go dry for May and June but unfortunately a mid June birthday meant that I fell off the wagon with c15 days to go. I certainly felt better in those months – A dry period is currently being lined up for September and October (have to avoid any celebratory dates).

Just some of my vinyl collection…

Found time to listen to my vinyl – My wife bought me a vinyl player nearly 2 years ago and I have been making a real effort to grow my vinyl collection. The challenge has been in finding time to listen. Vinyl is not really like Spotify, where it’s so much easier to dip in and out. Vinyl, particularly LPs, are designed to be savoured and real time invested in listening. Click here to read, “The Vinyl Countdown”, which discusses the success of vinyl, despite the digital age of music.

Cooked restaurant quality food at home – I like to think that I am a reasonable cook when I have the time so when I heard about what Elite Bistros have done with their at Home offer I had to give it a try. Check out Elite at Home for more information. 

Elite Bistros At Home – All the Starters!

I shamelessly plug these guys at any opportunity – because they are local (to me), they are great, and I also have some vouchers tied up with them so I need to ensure they survive so I can spend them in their restaurants when they open.  The concept is simple – order from the menu from 9am on a Friday (be quick as they usually sell out) and you will have it delivered the following Friday (to anywhere in the UK) in a chilled container.  The recipes are pre-prepared in the Elite kitchens – all you have to do is add the finishing touches and generally cock up the plating up.   On the success of my meal I also order a meal for one for my Dad which he successfully cooked at home. 

Garage as it’s meant to be used (nearly) – How many of you who have garages actually use them for the principal purpose they were design for i.e. housing motor vehicles?   I have owned three houses to date with garages and it’s fair to say that a car has never set foot (tyre) inside it on my watch!  Our current garage was piled high with the usual debris associated with the combining of two households: boxes of household spares (pots, pans, toasters etc), garden implements (can’t think of a better collective word for all that stuff), and other debris that neither of us wanted to part with.  Lockdown brought the arrival of a large skip (which also took down our broadband for a few days after the driver sheared through the cable) and with the help of a ruthless weekend where we filled the skip I can now see the garage floor. 

My wife’s car… not mine!

There is still some way to go before I can get a ‘real’ car in, but lockdown has resulted in enough space to house a mini gym in there. No more excuses!

I am certainly interested in hearing all your lockdown achievements. Given that it’s likely we will be continuing with this way of life for the foreseeable future, I am interested in hearing other ideas – please add any of your achievements to the comments below. 

Feature image: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels