Recruiting in the Age of COVID-19

June 24, 2020 | 3 minute read
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By Debra Lilley, Associate Director, Accenture

The scale and speed of the job losses caused by the COVID-19 crisis has been devastating to see, with millions of lives disrupted across the world. For companies that have been forced to shrink their workforces, recruitment may be the last thing on their minds.

Like everything about this crisis, recruiting programs face an uneven and uncertain future. Businesses in select industries like grocery chains and online retailers are scrambling to find staff to keep up with surging demand. Other businesses might be hiring only for very specific roles, or shifting people into new roles, like a live-event marketer needing to move into another part of the marketing group. 

For those companies that are doing recruiting in this time, here are a few observations based on our experience and client interactions that may help make the process better for companies and applicants. 

Going remote

For those still hiring, it’s no surprise that remote recruiting has become the rule. We’re seeing a big move to virtual interviewing with tools like Zoom or Teams, and people are becoming more comfortable with these technologies. Mastering the art of remote recruiting will require a new set of skills and more polished video-interviewing techniques.

Employee onboarding is also going remote. At Accenture, for example, a new hire may not walk into a company office for months. Training modules are being delivered remotely. And if social distancing rules continue, organizations may need to rethink a host of traditional onboarding activities. Part of Accenture’s graduate onboarding process, for instance, currently includes multi-day retreats and workshops. We will need to consider how—of if—we can stage those events remotely.

Don't let COVID-19 stop you from achieving your recruiting and staffing goals.

Preparing for the flood

If you’re an organization that is recruiting during this period, prepare for a flood of applications. This is where AI-driven automation can be a huge time-saver, helping companies quickly sort through a mountain of job applications. You can also expect to see more indirect applications coming in the door. That’s when job searchers aren’t applying for a particular opening, but rather sending in their CVs on spec. Recruiters will need to figure out how handle that flow of open-ended inquiries.

It goes without saying that it’s a time when recruiters need to be empathetic. A large share of job applicants (and their families) may be going through a truly difficult stretch and not simply job-hopping. Rejection letters should be crafted to reflect that understanding.

Keeping applicants up to date with their status in the recruitment process also becomes more important now because most will be applying for multiple jobs and people can cope better when they know what’s going on. If your recruitment process is taking a week or two longer than usual during this period, be honest and tell the candidate. It’s better for them to know their interview is delayed than to not know whether they even have an interview. 

The next normal

The economy’s return to something resembling normal still remains uncertain and the process will be an uneven one. There will be winners and losers, even within companies. Some parts of an organization may be hiring; other parts will be letting people go. We expect to see a lot of companies continuing to evolve their business models after the crisis ebbs – and their employee bases along with them.

For the moment, due to the uncertainty in the economic outlook, most organizations have implemented a recruiting freeze. For organizations that have a modern cloud-based HCM platform but haven’t used it for recruiting, now may be a good time to turn it on and explore its potential for streamlining recruiting when the time is right to start hiring again. 

Oracle Recruiting Cloud will allow organizations to efficiently match workers returning from furlough with any internal vacancies that may exist. Because all potential candidates are on a single platform, recruiters can target people both outside and inside the organization in a unified recruiting process. And they can quickly put together listings by integrating with the organization’s talent management system and its database of skills needed for the job.

Nobody can predict when the uncertainty will end or what the long-term impacts of the pandemic on the economy will be. A volatile employment picture may persist for months or years. But having a versatile technology platform that can handle the ups and downs, support a modern candidate experience, and quickly adapt to changing recruiting needs will be key to managing through whatever normal comes next.

For more insights on recruiting in the age of COVID-19, check out a recent whitepaper by Accenture on the emerging talent market and how it’s shaping the new recruiting cloud. 

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