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  • Sam Dennis

Hiring During a Pandemic? Recruiting in Today's Labour Market

Updated: Nov 6, 2020


Remember the days of inviting candidates into your workplace, seamless face-to-face interviews, shaking hands, and following closely as a new hire? Now that the old model of traditional recruitment is socially and medically taboo, what does recruitment look like today in the UK labour market?


Full Speed Ahead or Wait for This to Pass?


In 2020, UK employment hit a record high of 33 million. Then came COVID-19. Many employers paused their hiring due to uncertainty and dealing with significant costs due to the outbreak. For those companies that are still active in the labour market for top talent, it creates both opportunities and challenges.


To Recruit in This Labour Market:


The Advantages: Strategic Positioning

Since fewer companies are hiring, there is a much larger pool of available candidates. Job seekers will have fewer options to choose from, which can put companies looking to hire in a better position.Positioning your business to be the strongest workforce for the future rather than waiting can be attractive to candidates in this fickle labour market.


The Disadvantages: New Virtual Process

Interviewing has certainly become a challenge. Safety regulations, company restrictions, and social distancing has all but eliminated the face-to-face interviews. Video chats have become the norm.


When bringing on new hires, they may have to work remotely which creates its own set of problems. Besides the challenge of training remotely, it’s challenging to integrate someone into your company’s culture when they only experience it virtually.


To Wait for the Labour Market to Normalize


The Advantages: Saving Money

Many companies have seen a significant downturn in their economic situation. It can be tempting to keep positions open and hold on hiring to save money for current situations or as a hedge against future conditions. Not hiring means you’re saving money in the short-term which could be a make-or-break it decision for your business. However, depending on your situation, there may be reduced demand for your goods or services. Even if you had positions available before coronavirus, you may not need the extra help at this moment.


The Disadvantages: Missed Opportunities

There are disadvantages to waiting as well. Nobody knows what the future holds. As the hiring freeze begins to thaw, however, the best candidates will be in demand. Right now, due to reduced hiring by companies, it’s a buyer’s market. That won’t last.

If you wait, you may miss the opportunity to hire top-tier talent that’s available now but won’t be movable later.


New Approaches to Recruitment in the UK Labour Market


Hiring remotely takes a different approach. Here are five strategies to adapt to the way you approach recruitment.


1. Get the Word Out

Many qualified candidates that were looking for opportunities before COVID-19 may just assume your company has stopped hiring. Make sure you let candidates know that you are still recruiting in the labour market. Freshen up your current job postings. Anything older than a few weeks should be reposted with a current date. These new postings will get the most attention as it signals that you are ready to hire. It’s also important to let candidates know whether it’s a position that will be temporarily remote or whether they will be expected to report on-site.


2. Define Your Process

Recruiting and interviewing during the coronavirus pandemic will be different for both your company and job seekers. You should have a well-defined strategy in place for how you’re going to accomplish that and communicate it to candidates early in the process.

While the process might start the same way - listing jobs, conducting outreach, and reviewing applicants – the interview process itself will change. In most cases, that means virtual. Make sure you know what video applications you’re using and test them out ahead of time. Provide candidates with the proper links and a way for them to test it out before the interview begins.


Utilize virtual tools that go beyond just being able to see someone. For example, screening and matching tools can be used to probe for experience and skill level to avoid wasting time. Think beyond the one-way interview. Mix in team interviews or candidate presentations to help round out the interview experience. Because there will be fewer (if any) in-person interviews, references and referrals will be even more important.


3. Define Job Assignments

Companies should use this opportunity to review job requirements and expectations. Many employers that would never have considered letting employees work from home are finding that it’s working just fine. As more employees became comfortable working away from the office, they found they liked it. Jobseekers are now increasingly looking for flexible work conditions, including working from home. It can be a significant competitive advantage for companies willing to provide such flexibility.


If you are considering letting someone work from home, it can enlarge your pool of candidates because you’re not limited geographically. If you do allow remote work or need to have someone work remotely even in a temporary situation, you will want to emphasize the skills needed for remote work. These include organization, initiative, self-direction, and effective communication.


4. Prepare Realistic Offers

When hiring during uncertain times, you need to be certain about the position and what you can offer. Make sure you can support the position and provide the proper training once someone’s brought on staff. Be clear about the details. For example, if you expect someone to start working remotely during the pandemic, but expect them to transition to full-time work at the office at a future date, let them know in advance.


5. Check Your Recent Pool of Candidates

There may be people that applied months ago for positions, but you haven’t actively been hiring until now. Check to see if these candidates are still viable. Situations have changed for employers and employees. Keeping your finger on the pulse of the current labour market will help your recruitment strategy.

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