What's it like to change employers during Covid? And what should my steps be?

By Rob Green

Published Date: 2020/03


Moving role during COVID-19


“You cannot calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass”. This is a saying that has cropped up in my social feed a few times in the past week.

It resonates with me a lot. Remembering to stay centred, to stay calm whilst the world around us adjusts to the new normal.

We have been through health scares and economic downturns before, and we always get through them. Always, 100%. It is how we react during any downturn that determines how quickly we come out of it.

And make no mistake, this is the new normal – at least for the next 2 years, we predict the majority of people will work from home, the idea of the big office and people being stuck on public transport for hours may already be dead.

Even once we are through the Covid-19 outbreak, the general consensus is that those that work effectively from home will continue to do so, office space may be downsized and workforces may become a lot less reliant on physical office space.

If you are due to start a new role, or you are interviewing, you need to try to make the new abnormal, as normal as possible for you, and those also in your process.


Starting a new role if you’ve already resigned and working out your notice.

You will be nervous. But I am writing this to say, don’t be.

After nearly 20 years in the staffing industry – these are my tips for you: -

  • Stick to your original start date, or try to move it forward – the sooner you are into your new reality, the better of you will be in the longer term.
  • Speak to your new employer on a weekly or bi-weekly basis – schedule a video call with them, to see how they are, can you move your start date sooner, share how you are, how is the firm doing, what provisions do they have in place for Covid, is everyone working at home, how are the clients etc.
  • Find out about the IT set up, the server and consider upping your Wi-Fi speed at home. Liaising with the IT department prior to your start date is really important to check what they have planned, is it going to be a laptop or a desktop? What about server access, will they need to set that up at home for you, or is that something you can do yourself? There is no point in wasting your first week on the new job because of IT issues that could have been addressed beforehand. 
  • Produce a 6-point bullet plan for your first day, what are you going to do working from home? What do they want you to achieve? Start with speaking to the IT department at 9 am, and get up and running on all the systems. Share this as a working document with your new employer (and HR if relevant), we use Google pages and sheets as an effective tool.
  • Find out if there are training courses (online) who should be doing in your first week – or even before you start.
  • If you need secretarial support or other staff support, talk to your new employer, find out who they are and start having video calls with them on a weekly basis, so as to ensure minimum complications when you start.
  • Ask for a bullet point plan for onboarding new clients they may have, and make sure it's smooth and easy.
  • Do the same 6-point plan for your first week, first month, 3 months and 6 months in your new role – including developing relationships (via Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, and the phone with your new colleagues), and share these plans with the relevant stakeholders.

How to onboard your clients to a new firm

  • Speak to your clients, regularly – tell them about your new firms’ provisions for Covid.
  • Keep them calm regarding transferring their work over – make sure they know that there is going to be no interruption to their service from you.
  • Make sure you understand the process of doing this within your new firm and make it as simple as possible.
  • Talk to your new colleagues that you may well need the support of, on a bi-weekly FaceTime call (or equivalent). As with everything, communication is key.

Continuing the process if you are currently interviewing or have been made an offer.

If you are currently in an interview process. Again, please don’t worry.

If the firm was on a sound footing before the virus, they should be on a sound footing during it and certainly after.

And the ones that have been around long enough, understand that down markets are the best time to invest.

If you are bringing revenue (clients) with you, then the firm will most certainly continue the recruitment process – in a down market, fee earners are like gold – a safe haven – and the savviest of firms continue to hire sound fee earners.

If you are less rainmaker and more harvester, the firm will have been interviewing you knowing their financials and workflow are sound, so they should continue to progress.

Most importantly – address it with your potential new employer, as soon as possible and get clarity.

If you are both keen to progress, then accept an offer, resign from your current firm – and see above for the next steps.


Facing up to the new way of working and engaging in a Covid world

Colleagues & Bosses

Whilst it’s going to be difficult to develop new relationships via video platforms, it’s imperative you try.

The regularity of communication is going to be key to the success of your practice.

If one of your new team members does a great job for you, consider buying them a gift voucher they can use in the future.

Rewarding people during these times is going to be key to keeping morale high.



The most important thing to remember is that business is still being done, your services will still be needed.

Keep them close, offer support and advice, and let them know how you have responded to the new working world and how your new firm has as well – make sure they know you have the support, even if it is remote.

Communication is key.

Market yourself to new clients, continuously.


What firms must concentrate on in the coming months and why they must continue to hire

In the 2019 article in the Harvard Business Review, entitled “The Definitive Guide to Recruiting in Good Times and Bad, we must learn from the past when it comes to recruiting through a downturn

..even before things (the economy) turned a corner in 2003, the smarter and abler companies—having cleaned house and discovered what was missing from their talent pools—took advantage of the buyer’s market and began staffing for the future.

Covid will be no different, it becomes a buyers’ market and the best firms always continue to hire with an eye on the future

This new arrangement of everyone working to home is going to throw up challenges and really test your staff, at all levels.

Areas we are expecting to see firms continue to hire will be in Fee earners, with solid transferable books of business, so they can continue to increase revenue and in the area of virtual support – utilising providers of virtual secretaries and PA’s, amongst other positions like HR and Marketing/BD, are going to be used a great deal because of their flexibility and remote working.

As I said at the beginning of this article, “You cannot calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass”.