Recruitment in a pandemic

17th September 2020

Has the pandemic shifted not only the way we work but the way we recruit forever?

Traditionally the recruitment season would have its final peak in September, before starting again in the New Year and it was very much a job seekers market before Covid-19. I guess the question we need to ask is whether the pandemic has shifted not only the way we work, but the way we recruit forever?

As a person that spends her time encouraging businesses to understand and promote agile working options, I think job design in terms of those options have changed the recruitment market. Is it now more of an employer’s market?

From the start of the Covid-19 crisis, businesses have been guided by business models to protect their people, respond to new patterns of consumer demand, preserve cash and support our local communities. Some of the best changes happen in times of crisis and I think businesses will be thinking out of the box to encourage the great talent to their doors.

Forward-thinking recruitment in particular will be the key to organisational success for tomorrow. With all this transformation in the business world, the status –quo has changed. So how do we recruit inspiring high-performance staff and retain them?

What is a candidate driven market?

A candidate-driven market is one with the candidates in the driving seat, where they are able to command more than just the best salary they can get. Candidates are often receiving multiple job offers, as well as having their current employers trying to entice them to stay. It’s not just about salary, but the whole package. Candidates have such a choice of roles that they seek out more competitive salaries, flexible working patterns, stronger study support and a full career development plan. If a business can’t offer what a candidate is looking for, they’ll ultimately lose them to a competitor that can.

Attracting the best candidates

Given the change in the job market, less available roles and some high level talent more readily available, attraction techniques should be high on the agenda for any forward-thinking business. It could become more of an Employers Market, with larger pools of candidates looking for work. How do companies attract the premium candidates that will really add value and move their organisation forward? There are two significant areas that come to mind when attracting passive candidates. Firstly, what is the company about and what can be found online to support the company’s values and vision? Secondly, how quickly can businesses make decisions, bearing in mind if prospects of progression are realistically achievable?

Businesses should give consideration to a joined-up approach to attracting talent. It is important that employers make every stage of the recruitment process and onboarding as straightforward as they can. The number of interview stages, speed of the process and information provided to the candidate prior to the interview, show how serious a business is about recruiting. A lot of potential employers lose candidates due to their hiring process taking too long and having too many stages, meanwhile the top candidates are being offered something better elsewhere. My recommendation is to act fast. If you like the candidate then move quickly! This doesn’t mean throwing scoring processes or sifting out the window, it just means making sure the process is streamlined to avoid wasted time, before you start.

In order for candidates to find your business, make yourself visible on all platforms – the more positive information and feedback from existing staff the better. Consider what your own motivations for joining the business were; think about what you would have done after reading all of the available information online about your business and use that knowledge to your advantage.

The importance of selling a culture, brand, and reputation to attract top talent

We are all aware that culture, brand and reputation are paramount to attracting top talent in the market. Candidates don’t make their decisions of who to work for based solely on salary. The full package is considered and the decision-making process begins from the minute the candidate makes contact with the employer. It is important for the candidate to feel like they have a future career being part of a successful business. The interview is one of the major influencing factors for a candidate. It isn’t just for the business to assess candidate suitability for the role, it’s also a chance for candidates to decide if they wish to work at a company and it is important that the company culture is fully explained to the candidate in the interview, so they can make an informed decision. More often than not, interviewers don’t sell their business enough and expect the candidate to be excited about an opportunity based on reading a job specification and answering standard interview questions. Please don’t make that mistake.

Don’t forget that the way your business treats your current staff right now will solidify your true employer brand. If you are treating them right and showing support, there are stories to be told that will give cultural insights that will resonate deeply both with your employees and potential candidates.

What is Employer Value Proposition?

By creating an Employer Value Proposition (EVP) this is an essence of what your business stands for, so detailing everything that makes you attractive to applicants and irreplaceable for employees – from flexibility in job design to a company ethos and values. In the digital world of 2020, having the best employee value proposition has never been more important. Traditional attraction and retention methods of recruitment may no longer be as successful, and attracting and keeping the best staff has never been more difficult. With the power of video storytelling you can bring your values, vision and workplace benefits to life in a way that would be impossible on paper. You can do this by utilising your best asset, your current employees.

Retaining the candidate

Retention is about ensuring the employee is “happy” and there are many factors that keep a candidate with the same employer. Usually, the main reason people leave their role is not being able to see a future in the company or their relationship with their manager/management team. Therefore, it is important that the employee believes the business is supporting them in their development with regular reviews, open and honest communication, and ensuring any problems are resolved before they become a bigger issue. Praise for doing a good job goes a long way, as does having an understanding approach, managers with skills in effective feedback are paramount.

Agile Working

We can’t deny that businesses have seen significant levels of disruption in recent months, and an area that has felt the impact is recruitment. With many businesses forced to stall on recruitment, new challenges have emerged regarding workforce size, resourcing, and the importance of agility. Is there even a need for an office anymore for some businesses?

A flexible approach to work and a good work-life balance is high on the list of most employees. It also attracts a more diverse workforce such as people of varying gender, age, religion, race, ethnicity, cultural background, sexual orientation, religion, languages, education, abilities, etc.

An agile organisation with flexibility around job design can widen the talent pool substantially.

Tips for employers

  • Ensure a strong brand is recognised by the candidate throughout the recruitment process;
  • Display good values, but not only that, live, feel and breathe them;
  • Outline future plans;
  • Celebrate success and advertise this as widespread as possible. It all helps with your EVP;
  • Offer an inspirational working environment where candidates will be mentored and nurtured by bright minds and purpose-led leaders;
  • Be creative and stand out from your competitors;
  • Offer inclusive working practices to encourage a more diverse culture;
  • Appreciate people for their unique characteristics and allow them to feel comfortable in sharing their ideas and other aspects of their true and authentic selves. Whilst we hear that encouraging diversity and inclusion are both fundamental, let’s not forget that it’s “Belonging” that counts. That feeling of “Belonging” to a business is a liberating power and a valuable retention tool.

To find out about what else you can do why not contact us about our Agile Nation 2 Programme where we support employers with Best Practice Recruitment Workshops, Webinars and 1:1 support. Contact us to find out about joining our fully funded programme, or support through our FairPlay Solutions Team.