Hiring During Covid-19: How to Attract, Recruit, and Select the Best Candidates For Today’s Challenges
The scope of the COVID-19 crisis caught us all by surprise. The impact has been felt by workers in companies of all sizes, in all industries. Globally, an estimated 300 million full-time jobs have been lost since COVID-19 struck.
This seemingly makes for a recruiter’s market. But in reality, it’s not as easy as having your pick. As schools shut, many parents have abandoned the workforce to care for children. Other candidates are nervous about exposure to the virus. And some potential hires are content to live off government assistance until the storm passes. New strategies are needed to appeal to these candidates.
COVID-19 has also changed the way we work dramatically, along with our ideas about what makes an ideal candidate. Here are some tips to attract, recruit, and select the best people for today’s challenges.
Attracting Candidates During COVID-19
Priorities have changed since the pandemic began. Many workplace perks (such as free beer and foosball tables) fall flat in a time of crisis. To attract candidates during COVID-19, focus on easing people’s concerns about returning to the workforce.
Help Parents Get Back to Work: Child-care is a consuming problem for many parents during COVID-19. Providing in-house childcare is a great perk, but it’s not viable for many small businesses. You can still help parents return to the workforce by offering childcare credits. Alternatively, you can subsidize children’s meals, school supplies, and access to online learning. Establishing parent groups can help employees connect. They can share coping strategies and organize childcare amongst themselves. For your on-site workers, consider letting them commute outside of rush hour. They can skip traffic and have more time for their families.
Offer Remote Work: A Gallup survey found that over half of workers would leave their current job for a remote position. Alternatively, reduced hours may appeal to both harried parents and employees looking to limit their exposure to the virus. Shorter work days can also help companies acquire talent without breaking the budget.
Financial Assistance for Employees: When the pandemic first struck, Starbucks gave employees a temporary pay bump. Kroger grocery stores gave a one time bonus of US$400 to all their full-time employees. However, not every business can afford to be so generous. But smaller gestures can help workers stay afloat financially. Consider vouchers for groceries, prescriptions, and remote work expenses (like WiFi). Or reimburse employees that buy lunch at locally-owned restaurants, which helps both employees and the local economy.
Keep Employees Healthy: Along with following all government-mandated health protocols, consider offering:
- Paid sick leave for all employees
- Access to a 24/7 health hotline
- Counseling for employees struggling with depression, anxiety, and grief due to COVID-19
- Reimbursement of COVID-19 tests
- Coverage of virtual doctor visits
- Relax your attendance policy
- Limit the number of customers and employees on-site
- Provide PPE for employees and sanitize the office regularly
- Prevent employee isolation by organizing virtual coffee breaks, Zoom lunches, and other online social outlets
Long-Term Growth Opportunities: It can be hard to attract candidates in a country with generous unemployment benefits. But relief checks are only temporary. Highlight how your company offers a future vs. just a paycheck. Opportunities such as continuing education, upskilling, and promoting from within shows candidates that you provide a long-term career track.
Hiring for the COVID-19 Environment
According to Stanford University, 42% of the US workforce is now working from home. Many businesses expect to keep working remotely through 2021. And some companies (such as Twitter and Square) have announced that the shift will be permanent.
Remote work calls for a different skill-set vs. a traditional office. Here are some attributes to look for when hiring:
- Self-Starter: Proactive people are better suited to remote work. A self-starter will find something productive to do vs. waiting for direction. They are also solution-oriented. When problems arise, they’ll solve them rather than complain or wait for management to step in.Consider asking candidates to tell you about a time when work was slow. Did they find ways to busy themselves? Request special projects from their manager? Or perhaps, lend a hand to their colleagues? It’s an indirect line of questioning that can reveal how self-directed they are.
- Experience is also at a premium when hiring remote staff. An experienced candidate will have enough knowledge to work independently. Experience working with the technology your office uses is also a compelling advantage.
- Proficient Writing Skills: We are more reliant on written communication than ever. Someone that writes clearly and concisely will save time and misunderstanding. Being able to hit the right tone is also important. There’s a fine line between efficient and curt.A candidate’s resume is a good place to start. Consider requiring a cover letter to get a sample of their writing. And keep in touch throughout the interview process to get a sense of their communication style.
- Trustworthy: Remote employees are no longer under the watchful eye of management. You need people you can trust to be productive on their own. Not cutting corners and following all health and security protocols is also a must.It can be hard to get a feel for trustworthiness over video conferences. But a helpful question for an interviewee is: Tell me about a time you were honest on the job, when there may have been a downside to being honest.Follow through on reference checks. You may even consider a background check.
- Ability to Prioritize: You need candidates who have a sense of what’s important, who can organize their time accordingly. You can vet for this quality by asking potential hires to detail how they managed a large project in the past.
Recruiting During COVID-19
Despite the large pool of candidates, hiring has never been more challenging. Recruiters must leverage a variety of tactics to find prospects.
- Respect Physical Distancing: Many governments have loosened restrictions on socializing and movement. However, some candidates still feel uneasy about physical contact and non-essential travel. Wherever possible, make your interview and onboarding process remote. Virtual tours and coffee meetings can also help assess the culture fit while keeping candidates safe at home.
- Multi-Channel Recruitment: It’s essential to use as many channels as possible. People are spending more time online than ever, so make use of job sites. US News and World Report identified the top six websites for recruitment: Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Monster, CareerBuilder, and SimplyHired. Indeed even offers a “ready to work” filter so employers can source people who are available immediately.Facebook is the most active social media channel, and it’s experienced a 27% increase in users since the beginning of the pandemic. You can add a job post to your business page for free. It will appear on the jobs page of Facebook, and applicants can apply directly. Details from their profile will even populate the information fields for them. For a fee, employers can “boost” job posts to reach a wider audience. You can also join relevant Facebook groups and post listings there.Use your company website (and social media pages) not only to advertise jobs but to communicate your company culture. And give prominent space to the health and safety measures your company is taking during COVID-19.
- Expand Your Reach: Remote work allows employers to expand their geographic search. Along with a wider pool of talent, you can source hires from areas with a lower cost of living. That may mean recruiting in a neighboring town or as far afield as another country. It’s a good way to contain salary costs while still paying a livable wage to employees.
- Reduce Churn: New hires are getting cold-feet and ghosting employers at record rates. In workforce terms, ghosting means the hire never shows up for the first day. One way to avoid this is to keep communication alive after the point of hire. Use the employee’s preferred communication channel, and check in regularly. Speeding up the onboarding process will also improve retention. Don’t leave weeks of silence between the interview and orientation.
Best Practices for Hiring During the Pandemic
Hiring during a pandemic is challenging. But every business has the opportunity to emerge from this crisis with a better workforce. Recruit the people that will thrive in today’s challenging environment and in the post-COVID world. Appeal to candidates by providing a safe, flexible workspace that fosters human connection.