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Innovative Recruiting in the Era of “Social Distancing”

Kiera Berghof, Vice President of Talent Acquisition

The unprecedented social challenges brought on by our attempts to limit the impact of COVID-19 have dramatically changed the way companies operate and manage their workforce.  A new kind of recruiting strategy is vital for hiring managers to be successful and well positioned to find the right fit.  With a social distancing policy traditional hiring protocols such as in-person applications, face-to-face interviews, and even handshakes are no longer business as usual and, to some job seekers, are even considered unsafe.  

A re-examination of traditional recruiting practices will show an increased value of streamlined processes, online presence and virtual technologies.  Empowering your hiring teams to find, screen, interview, hire and eventually onboard new employees all while maintaining high safety standards will be the innovation which is essential to stay competitive in this new era.

The State of the Employment Market

Temporary closure and other severe limits imposed on non-essential businesses in order to maintain a healthy workforce have driven unemployment to record highs. According to the Idaho Department of Labor, the peak unemployment rate of 11.8% was reached in April of 2020. The rate for May was down slightly at 8.9% but still far from the rate of 2.6% we saw at the start of the year. This shows that the unemployment rate is improving, however, more than three times as many people than usual are still considered job seekers so greatly inflated pools of applicants must be considered for the same open positions.  

The Society of Human Resource Management reports that 56% of employers are not hiring or reducing staff, 36% are currently hiring and 8% are continuing reductions.  Applicant pools are also diluted due to the fact that many people who have lost their jobs are receiving unemployment benefits that exceed their typical income, making them “ghost applicants” with no real intent to accept jobs they’re offered.

Building Your Recruiting Strategy

Stay in alignment of the evolving landscape, forecast your business needs and build your hiring strategy to keep your recruiting funnel right where you want it.  It’s imperative to have time allocated on your calendar for this part of the process. Your recruiting strategy, including candidate persona profiles, should align with the short and long-term goals of your business and focus on not just filling open positions but building your company culture with candidates who share the same values.  

It is worthwhile to look beyond the usual factors that may have attracted candidates in the past. Some of your existing benefits such as catered lunches or prepaid gym memberships are less valuable now. Remote work and flexibility will carry a new importance and employee preferences will continue to change. You’ll need to adapt in order to maintain a strong recruiting presence in your market. 

The Hiring Process Looks Different Now

The social distancing requirements associated with this pandemic are transforming the hiring process. Face-to-face interviews are being replaced with virtual interactions and remote interviews. Virtual career fairs have become more prevalent and temporary-to-hire positions are being offered as ‘working interviews’ to ensure a safe, effective way for businesses and job seekers to connect. 

Social recruiting is more important than ever to attract and convert talent. Utlizing multiple social media platforms will afford the ability to reach passive candidates who may not have posted their resume to a job board or are actively searching. Posts to highlight your company’s culture provide an easy way for your employees to share information about job openings with their family, friends and other contacts. The content and consistency in posting on your website and social medial platforms is crucial to nurturing prospects and maintaining a strong presence among job seekers. 

With the current level of unemployment, companies are likely to see a spike in the number of applications for each job posting. Parsing through hundreds of resumes from job platforms is time consuming and costly. It’s important to use a hiring tool that is convenient, efficient, and allows you to instantly interact with job seekers. Online tools such as Jobu Jobs are an efficient, cost-effective way to streamline your hiring process by enabling faster decisions about who to interview and hire.  

Once a candidate accepts your offer, the onboarding engagement begins. A well-designed virtual onboarding process will ensure that new employees feel connected with their coworkers and comfortable beginning their new job. Web conferencing tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams will help your new hire become integrated into your company. 

Final Thoughts

As the hiring landscape continues to be reshaped by COVID-19, the best way to navigate “social distancing” challenges in your recruiting strategy is to embrace innovation and creativity. The strategies above are a guideline to provide a great virtual hiring experience for your company and job seekers. Remain resilient as you assess your hiring practices, reset your recruiting strategy, and power onward through the ever-changing job market.