The COVID-19 pandemic is the topic that just won’t go away even during the latter half of 2021. This is because the pandemic is continuing to have its effects felt everywhere and employee recruitment is no exception. The pandemic has caused many early retirements, layoffs, people switching jobs, and more at a pace that is way above average for most periods of time prior to March of 2020. The hiring process itself has changed, potentially permanently, as virtual interviews have become the norm for such reasons as difficulties with air travel, concerns over interviewee/interviewer health, and potential quarantines put in place by applicable governments. The companies that are most focused on surviving these turbulent times need to have effective and smart recruitment strategies to keep the positions filled so that business operations can continue uninterrupted.
Even as things return to normal it is very smart to continue such practices as virtual interviews where applicable because not only are they perfect answers to concerns about health, they are also more efficient and save money. The interviewer(s) and interviewee walking a few steps into their home offices to conduct a virtual interview costs both parties no money and takes seconds compared to costs (hundreds or thousands of dollars if air travel is involved) and time (potentially hours or days) of traveling to a business site for an in-person interview. Related to virtual interviews, companies that make the most use of virtual recruiting practices overall will see the biggest cost savings. This is where the entire recruitment process, from initial contact with a candidate to the candidate signing a job offer letter, being completely online, aka done via computers and not in-person.
For some companies, before they can conduct the entire recruitment process virtually they will need to purchase the required hardware/software to facilitate the process and get staff relevant staff trained on how to use those tools effectively. This could mean little or big changes, but either way there are some employees who adapt to changes quickly and others who do not or outright resist such changes. Companies need to keep that in mind as they seek to re-tool their recruitment strategies during the pandemic by giving advanced notice of such changes and providing resources to help make the transition to new processes smooth. Surprising staff with such changes suddenly is generally not a good idea.
Some companies choose to shift or offload entirely the responsibilities of the recruitment to third parties like staffing and recruiting agencies. There are many advantages to doing this and the changes brought on by the pandemic have only further increased those advantages. Taking the hardware, software, and training needed to conduct virtual recruiting for example, a company could save nearly 100% of those costs by contracting with a staffing and recruiting agency. This is because staffing and recruiting agencies stay on the cutting edge of recruitment best practices and have already made the shift to virtual recruiting. A hiring company would only need to make sure a few key internal employees (typically in HR) have virtual recruitment-related hardware, software, and training. Outsourcing is extremely useful, especially when expanding in another country. For instance, outsourcing to a PEO is an employment solution that helps companies hire workers abroad.
A key part of having a smart recruiting strategy during the pandemic is knowing when to look externally to fill an open position and when to look internally. HR experts are seeing a growing trend of a higher percentage of positions higher up in organizations being filled with internal candidates and recruiting external candidates to fill open front-line or entry-level positions. As mentioned before, whether companies do such recruiting for external candidates themselves or via a staffing agency, either way the process has become almost entirely virtual. Staffing agencies can help fill a variety of positions from temp executive assistant to quality assurance tester, from nurse to domestic policy analyst.
Not all staffing and recruiting agencies are created equally however. Smart companies work with staffing agencies that have upped their game during the pandemic. LinkedIn surveys that recruiters at many staffing agencies have added additional skills that will add value to the client companies they serve. These additional skills could be reshaping client branding, enhanced analysis of talent data, virtual hiring process education, and more. Recruiters need to have such skills to properly understand the pulse of a labor market that is experiencing massive fluctuations not seen since World War II. For example, country’s economies across the globe were technically in recession territory based on multiple historical indicators of recession (such as rapid rise in unemployment) though the same country’s economies did not feel like it was experiencing a recession. Many people have also been wondering the effect massive amounts of money spent by governments to combat the pandemic (borrowed from the taxpayers of course) will have on labor in the future.
Also not seen since World War II are fluctuations in academic records of large swaths of students. Education at all levels, even at the university level, has been in flux for 2020, 2021, and probably 2022. Some classes that were typically only offered in person were suddenly being offered online. Admissions standards were being amended to accommodate the variety of hardships students were facing, either directly or indirectly (via government lockdowns, for example). Standardized testing opportunities were unavailable or cancelled due to proctors being sick, or offered online temporarily. All of these fluctuations will lead to students for years to come having various asterisks in their academic records. Companies looking to recruit such talent should make a plan on how to deal with such situations a part of their recruiting strategies.
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Lastly, for companies that have been able to skate by with minimal or no sponsored health or life insurance coverage, they may have to re-think that strategy. It is a difficult conversation to have when many companies are pulling out all the stops to prevent from having to close their doors, but the pandemic has definitely put physical and mental health at the forefront of everyone’s minds. For many people the risk of catching COVID-19 while not having health insurance is too high to accept. The cost of healthcare continues to go nowhere but up so the challenge for companies to provide a sponsored health insurance plan that is affordable is real but must be addressed to be able to recruit top talent.
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