Crisis management tips: How to navigate recruitment in unexpected situations

Though extremely unexpected and in many ways a horrific scenario for businesses around the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic put every company’s crisis strategy to the test. Beyond that, the pandemic caused development plans to grind to a halt, and revenue forecasts to be thrown out the window. 

The question that remains is whether or not your recruitment strategy should follow.

Over the years, the job market has maintained a steady pace with low unemployment rates. In turn, this put candidates, active and passive alike, at a distinct advantage. With talent becoming a competitive asset for companies, candidates would often be contacted for job opportunities even if they are established at their current role. 

But that has now become a thing of the past. With the pandemic re-arranging the entire job and talent landscapes, recruiters are braving a completely different situation.

1. Explore Different Industries

There’s more available talent out there now than there was before. Not only did many professionals find themselves out of a job at the peak of quarantine, but fresh graduates of late 2019 and 2020 also have yet to experience the job market in the same way that previous generations did. 

With that in mind, companies in active recruitment are more or less in control. The volume of incoming applications is significantly higher than it used to be across every single industry out there.

Despite all of the confusion surrounding the effects of the pandemic, industries such as healthcare will most certainly experience a considerable rise in its recruitment. In fact, it is because of this confusion that the need for healthcare-oriented talent is maintaining its growth throughout 2020 for healthcare providers and insurance firms. 

It’s almost a certainty that the healthcare administration talent pool transcends the industry to include candidates with a variety of past experiences.

The lesson here is that the rules and limitations on valuable talent are somewhat blurred at the moment. And the lack of talent within your own industry shouldn’t limit your outreach and recruitment efforts. Considering talent from different industries could solve the shortage issue that your own is currently experiencing. The jump from one industry to another hasn’t been uncommon during pre-covid job markets. However, consider that candidates are as unsure of their current situation as they would ever be. If anything, chances are their employment situation is shifting in one way or another, making them more open to new industries and opportunities. 

2. Job Boards & Job Sharing Spaces

Just because the availability of jobs and talent has shifted, does not mean that the major recruitment channels are no longer valuable.

In fact, highly qualified candidates seeking new opportunities in the new normal would undoubtedly include job boards in their search. With that in mind, companies can expect a large volume of incoming applications to bombard their recruiters. 

While this might not be an obvious point, recruiters will inevitably be busier screening and evaluating candidates to worry about generating more through job boards. But it remains essential that they leverage the channel to expose their company and their open positions to a larger audience.

This isn’t designed to increase incoming applications, but to ensure that highly qualified candidates are also exposed to your brand, your open positions, and that they take part in the application process.

A clever way to leverage job boards and still be highly productive in terms of assessment and screening would be to adopt an advanced AI-based system or recruiting software. This would help recruiters stay on top of their incoming applications and still find the time to make the most of job boards. 

The dynamic of how these channels work may have shifted to an extent. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many new job boards and somewhat different job listings have appeared. Spaces through which jobs and resources are shared have also become prominent. Employers can now broaden their reach by entering these spaces and contributing to their resources.

3. Facing Reality

It’s vital to be fully aware and transparent about how the pandemic has affected your recruitment, your business plans, and your company as a whole. Pretending that nothing has changed is extremely counterproductive. However, analyzing the impact of COVID-19 is an excellent place to start planning which roles you’ll still be recruiting for, which stage of the process was most affected, and how your team can best adapt. 

This also means being prepared for the current situation and all questions that candidates might pose during or beyond the interview. Employers need to anticipate talent concerns and be able to address them. A good strategy would be to examine these concerns and put together a pandemic FAQ for the recruitment team, allowing them to better relate to candidates and improve their ability to guide them towards the next step of the process.

Moreover, it’s good to remember that the pandemic has imposed change beyond job availability and talent acquisition. Given the circumstances, candidates now expect benefits and flexibility that weren’t necessarily a requirement in the past. Options such as working from home, medical care, and other benefits have become extremely valuable to candidates. 

Consider that passive candidates, as desirable as they might be, are as nervous about switching from one company to another during this unprecedented crisis as anyone else. Professionals looking for work will undoubtedly have questions about your company, about its long term plans and its response in facing the coronavirus. The HR department and recruitment team should work together to compile important questions and properly answer them.

4. Online Interviews And Digital Assessment

As a company, you cannot simply take the global view of the pandemic and act upon it from a business perspective. Sure, the situation is not as dire as it was earlier in the year, but from the candidate’s point of view there’s still plenty of reason to be afraid. 

As such, face-to-face interviews are not exactly a reassuring prospect. And neither should it be, for the candidate or the company. Maybe it will be worth it to fly in a candidate by December, and maybe it will not. But for the time being, it’s best to adopt a more digital approach to interviews.

Video interviewing is quite possibly the best tool in your recruitment arsenal.

This is where employers should be somewhat lenient. On a normal day, you would expect your candidate to show to the interview, well-dressed, and well-presented. However, consider that candidates will likely be conducting these interviews from their bedrooms or living rooms. Recruiters should be aware of this intersection of personal and professional, and make sure that it does not affect the outcome of the recruitment process.

Not to say that the assessment process and parameters should change. If anything, the only difference would be in taking it to the digital world, and taking candidate circumstances into account.

While these changes may appear minor, they may alter how your company operates beyond recruitment and HR functions. The concerns that candidates would enquire about in the interview process are identical to those of your existing workforce. Digital workplaces, working from home, and changes to business hours can motivate your employees.

5. Freelancers to the rescue

I know, it’s not the best solution in the world. But here’s the thing, if you fully understand the impact of the pandemic on your company, and are able to identify where change needs to be made, freelancers can make it work.

There’s an overabundance of freelancer communities and platforms that provide vetted and pre-assessed talent that comes with reviews, portfolios, and all the works. This would allow companies to maintain momentum while they comb through incoming applicants to find that full-time candidate they’ve been looking for.

This is the temporary band-aid of recruitment, the solution that bridges the gap between work that needs to be done now, and the time it takes to filter out qualified talent for long term placement.

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