Who would have ever imagined that our economy was going to take such a hit by a worldwide crisis pandemic? The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all industries and some more than others. Our economy is now in recession, and the pandemic has had an enormous impact on recruiting efforts. Our familiar approach of face-to-face interviews and on-the-job training has been replaced by virtual technology and innovative methods. This is not something that will decimate your organization—you will come out ahead by listening to the market and to your clients and responding appropriately.
March 2020 marks a point in history when companies globally moved as many employees as possible to work remotely from home. Millions of people lost their jobs by being laid off or furloughed due to the crisis and the negative effect on business. Restaurants, gyms, shopping malls, and tourist attractions closed their doors, and all social events, concerts, and gatherings were cancelled. We are living in extraordinary times, but the need to recruit and onboard remains although it will be reshaped entirely. The sudden impact of only “essential” businesses being able to remain open during the pandemic has opened the door for those employees not in an essential business to investigate other career options. However, this doesn’t mean you are getting flooded with qualified applicants.
Prior to the pandemic, sourcing candidates proved difficult as unemployment rates were at historic lows, hovering between 1 and 3 percent. Now, getting candidates to consider the higher level and specific skillset jobs you have available will become even more difficult as people are not willing to change jobs in uncertain times if they already have a full-time position. However, people are at home in front of their computers, and they aren’t able to attend conferences and events. Use that opportunity to attract those passive candidates through marketing tactics such as paid ads, social media channels, and referrals. These recruiting efforts will get them familiar with your brand and will build your talent community pipeline.
The onboarding of new employees has required adapting to a completely remote experience. Companies are now forced to fully invest in onboarding software by which an online pre-onboarding process can be created for all new employees, eliminating the necessity for face-to-face interaction. People looking for essential jobs during the pandemic will apply for entry-level positions for future job security and stability. The use of modern recruitment tools is essential in order to organize the number of applications that you may get. Communication is key and your recruitment team and hiring managers must be able to keep track of candidates, prescreen, and communicate how the recruitment process is going on a continuous basis.
How do you make sure your candidates still have a good recruitment experience virtually? It’s important that we set expectations upfront with the candidate by telling them what the recruitment process entails. Virtual recruiting can be clumsy and awkward; I’ve witnessed this firsthand over the past several months. The internet connection can be an issue, the video interview platform connectivity can be spotty, and the unflattering angle of laptop cameras can also present a challenge. It’s important that you set aside time to iron out these issues by scheduling test runs with the candidate to make sure they can log on without audio or visual issues.
Before the interview happens, coach your hiring managers on how to host the interview by using an icebreaker to make the candidate more comfortable. The interviewer should also take time to ask questions such as: Can you hear me? Can you see me? Are you able to move closer to the camera? Can you move your camera to a different location where light isn’t behind you? This will allow not only for the candidate to calm their nerves but sets up the best experience visually.
The questions we ask our candidates are also changing. It’s important to be straightforward with your candidates so they don’t leave disgruntled in the middle of a global crisis. Equip your hiring managers with consistent questions around the values of your organization, and coach them to be transparent and upfront with candidates about the working environment they are about to enter.
For example, maybe you are a newer company or a consulting firm and work in an extremely challenging, fast-paced environment. Ask your candidates if they are comfortable with that and if they’ve previously worked in a changing environment and how they have dealt with those challenges. Also ask your candidates about the response of their current or former employer to COVID-19 and how it impacted the culture—this is a good way to assess the level of support the candidate expects.
In addition, hiring without face-to-face interaction will require successful candidates to be able to adapt quickly. Asking competency-based questions surrounding their ability to learn and adapt will also prove beneficial.
Organizations must continue to be strategic in their hiring process, but that strategy has changed. Companies need to choose which positions they will fill and which they will leave vacant in order to keep the business afloat in these ambiguous times. Moving the recruiting and onboarding platform to virtual interaction is just the start. Keeping your current culture stable is also extremely important. This becomes a balancing act of effectively maintaining culture while downsizing and implementing hiring freezes and layoffs, which requires current employees to assume more work.
Keep your strong leaders in place and engaged. Keep a focus on building your talent pipeline so when you are ready to hire, you have already familiarized these potential candidates with who you are, your brand, and the direction your company is going. Everyone is going through this, so it’s important to focus on what you can impact to move the needle forward. Stay safe and stay healthy.
As consultants and operators in post-acute, long-term care, and senior living, HDG understands the staffing challenges that many health care organizations are facing every day. HDG can help you fill your open positions with the right person, right away. We have highly experienced staff, backed by the support of our consulting and operations teams, ready to join your team as the need arises. If you’d like to learn more about HDG’s interim and permanent leadership workforce solutions, please contact us at 763.537.5700 or firstname.lastname@example.org and visit our website.
Sarah Friede, MBA,
Senior Director of Recruitment and Placement Services