The coronavirus pandemic has brought life as we know it to a crawl. This holds true for companies just as much as individuals as we press the ‘pause’ button on most non-essential business activities. Still, if your company does essential work or you’re lucky enough to be able to conduct business with little interruption, there’s one thing that can’t come to a standstill: hiring.
Recruiting during a pandemic comes with a whole new slew of challenges and considerations, the likes of which we’ve never dealt with before. If you want to hire effectively while still being sensitive to the unprecedented situation at hand, follow these best hiring practices for recruiting during uncertain times.
7 Tips for Hiring During COVID-19
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1. Plan, plan, plan
As the old saying goes, “hope for the best but prepare for the worst.” While you don’t want to adopt a doomsday mindset, you do need to reassess most aspects of your recruitment strategy to accommodate the current realities.
Prioritize open positions based on the most urgent need and the ease with which you can onboard new recruits. Some positions, by nature, will be easier than others to hire for during this time, like roles that are already set up for working from home all or some of the time.
This may also mean your priorities shift when it comes to the qualities you look for in candidates. Candidates with previous experience working remotely, for example, may receive preference over those who have only ever worked on site. For senior leadership, you might place a heavier emphasis on candidates who have demonstrated success navigating a crisis in the past.
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2. Maintain talent relationships
Your relationships with candidates—both active and passive, past and current—are more important than ever before. There’s never been a better time for a genuine call or email just to check-in. The keyword here is genuine; place an emphasis on finding out how the contact is doing and look for ways you might be able to be of service to them, be it through sharing a job opening, making a referral, etc. People will remember these meaningful interactions long after the pandemic is behind us.
Bear in mind, also, that a candidate’s situation may have shifted significantly since the last time you touched base with them. Passive candidates may be more open to conversations about new opportunities as they make weighty considerations about what’s really important to them. Candidates who were once passive may suddenly be active after going through a round of layoffs or furloughs. Conversely, some candidates who were open to new opportunities may now be averse to changing jobs in favor of stability. Once again, it’s all the more reason why getting in touch with a sincere and personal message is one of our top tips for hiring in the current climate.
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3. Embrace digital tools
No matter how well your organization has weathered the crisis thus far, you won’t be able to maintain your forward momentum without embracing a new way of doing things. Zoom meetings have become the new normal for conducting interviews, and companies that are able to shift to a fully virtual onboarding strategy will have the upper hand in the months ahead.
Taking advantage of digital tools like video conferencing, project management applications and messaging platforms will not only help new hires get onboarded faster, but will take some of the pressure off your existing staff, who will no doubt be glad to have additional hands to help tackle the workload.
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4. Set your sights on the long game
During uncertain times like the ones we’re navigating now, it’s easy to get mired in the challenges of your day-to-day operations (and those, admittedly, can be quite daunting on their own). Still, the companies that come out on top after the dust clears from the pandemic will be those who were able to keep cool heads and chart a course with the long game in mind.
As you adjust your recruitment strategy, focus on how your choices today will play out over the next 12 to 18 months. If you freeze all but essential hiring now, how will it affect your operations as the economy grinds back into gear? If layoffs are on the table, how will the messaging you use affect your ability to recruit a year from now?
Although we’re all taking things one day at a time (and in some cases, one hour at a time) right now, don’t lose sight of the bigger picture for your long-term hiring strategy.
5. Be flexible
Timelines and priorities are in flux for everyone, at every level of the professional food chain. Parents are being forced to transform into homeschool teachers, spouses are becoming caregivers and executives are juggling as many critical decisions during a single day as they’d typically face in a quarter.
The old approach of keeping work life and personal life in two separate silos has gone out the window. If you hope to keep your recruiting pipeline moving, one of the best hiring practices is to be flexible and accommodating of uncertainty. Candidates, like everyone on the planet, are stressed about more than just their job search at the moment, and good companies will be sensitive to this.
Communicate clearly and often to let candidates know both the status of your hiring and where they stand in the process. Are things moving more slowly than normal? Are you putting some positions on hold even if you were eager to hire quickly just a few weeks ago? Being transparent about these and similar items builds trust and will positively impact both your ability to hire and your employer brand in the long run.
Additionally, consider being flexible in how you structure positions and responsibilities, either temporarily or permanently. Could alternate options, like converting previously full-time positions into contract positions, help you maintain operations while minimizing risk? Could part-time workers close gaps that you’re not yet comfortable filling with full-time hires? Is now an opportunity for junior employees to take on more senior responsibilities?
Being open to non-traditional staffing options will help you continue to serve your clientele while keeping workers employed during this challenging time.
6. Get your recruitment house in order
Just as thousands of people are capitalizing on the prolonged time at home as a chance to declutter and organize, companies can take this opportunity to improve the efficiency of their recruitment systems.
Now is a great time to review your talent acquisition funnel from top to bottom and make the improvements you’ve been putting on the back burner for months or even years. This is especially timely if your hiring has slowed down or is on a temporary hold and you suddenly have more free hours in the day.
Here are a few ideas for cleaning house, recruitment style:
- Deploy automated email sequences to prompt candidates to complete pre-interview steps like screening questionnaires and reference submissions. This helps keep your pipeline moving forward and frees up time spent on repetitive tasks.
- Digitize your library of new hire materials like employee handbooks and benefit guides. This will save on printing and be useful even after business gets back to normal.
- Consider implementing a semi- or fully-online employee onboarding system where new hires can complete necessary documents and work through training modules at their own pace, saving you time and paperwork. BambooHR and WorkBright are two highly rated digital onboarding options.
- Freshen up your website’s Careers page with messaging specific to COVID-19.
Remember the long-game approach we talked about earlier; consider how the efficiencies you put in place will not only benefit the organization today, but will help you emerge from the pandemic with a more effective recruitment program than before.
7. Consider how this will reshape everything you do
Sometimes it takes a major shakeup to make us completely rethink the way we do things—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing in this case.
What outdated processes can you reconsider or scrap entirely? What strategies or policies have you been falling back on that no longer make sense for where the company is headed? Can some or all of your staff be transitioned into remote workers to save on costs like facilities and equipment? In such an unprecedented situation, nothing should be off the table if it means changing things for the better.
Get Expert Help Navigating COVID-19 Hiring
New to working with a staffing agency? Need a hand navigating unfamiliar hiring challenges? The team at 4 Corner Resources is eager to help.
We’re a nationally recognized recruitment agency that helps businesses across the United States meet their staffing needs. We’re skilled in helping organizations deal with periods of transition, respond to industry trends and plan for future growth when it comes to staffing. From high-volume jobs to hard-to-fill technical positions, our seasoned headhunters will connect you with the talent you’re looking for in a way that fits your timeline and budget.
Contact us today and tap our team of experts to get tips for hiring and maintaining a strong recruiting strategy during the Coronavirus pandemic and beyond.