COVID-19 has overhauled the way we work. It sent many to work from home, but left many others to worry about exposure to the virus throughout the workday. It changed how and where we interact for business and disrupted the economy and the way many organizations do business, along with recruiting and hiring. And it changed candidate and employee expectations for work.
This calls for an appropriate post-pandemic recruitment strategy for hiring and recruiting success going forward. Even the talent acquisition metrics from as recent as 2018 and 2019 no longer apply to a post-pandemic labor market. Changes in workforce expectations, needs, and opportunities because of the pandemic mean employers have to change the way they approach talent acquisition in order to attract and retain the employees they need to grow and support their businesses.
Focus on skills, remote recruiting, and company culture are the top priorities for recruiters and hiring managers now, with an emphasis on work that supports life.
Even before the pandemic hit, recruiting employees with the skills needed was difficult. According to Gartner Research, only 29% of hiring managers said their new hires were adequately skilled and ready to adapt for future skills. With all the business and work changes necessitated by the pandemic, employers need skilled employees who can adapt to rapid change in the workplace.
In recent years, we’ve seen a drastic change in the way people work, showing the pace of change requires workforces that are skilled now and can adapt to changing economic and industry conditions. Gartner vice president Lauren Smith explains that because of the rapid transition of many workforces to remote working, employers have had traditional talent pools expanded. No longer having to source only candidates close to business locations means no longer seeking the best candidates by location but by skills.
Skills-based hiring is the foundation of a flexible recruitment strategy that hiring managers and recruiters must use for successful post-pandemic workforce development. This means job descriptions focused on the skills required to best perform the work and the future of the role, rather than looking back on what the job was in the past. The old recruiting standby of “best predictors of future success are past successes” no longer applies. The best predictors for post-pandemic hiring success will be current skills and the ability to attain future skills.
With the pivot to remote work in early 2020, many organizations realized the benefits of a virtual workforce, including cost savings on overhead and an expanded talent pool not bound by location. Filling positions with the best candidates, not just the best local candidates, have also meant cost savings for recruiting and hiring, shortening time to hire, and reducing recruiting costs with virtual interviews and onboarding.
In-office interviews have evolved for many employers to scheduling video calls for interviews, requiring the technology and expertise to use it. A decentralized workforce requires technology such as applicant tracking systems and virtual meeting applications like Zoom for a smooth recruiting, hiring, and onboarding process.
Gartner’s VP Smith says that a virtual hiring process requires good communication about the state of the company, the culture, and how it’s evolving, as well as how decisions have been made about the workforce during the pandemic and moving forward. These are new expectations of candidates since the pandemic hit, and are an integral part of recruiting now.
Gartner Research found that organizations that are most attractive to top talent are those that offer and promote a humanized focus on candidates, not just work. Focusing on how working for them can improve their life with an employment value proposition that defines how the company and culture will impact candidates is vital.
Harvard Business Review notes that the COVID-19 pandemic literally emptied buildings and many are not likely to be bustling with employees again. Organizations have to find ways to attract talent to their businesses in different ways than before. A compelling employee experience in many cases now has to be crafted with more emphasis on work and life values for the candidates and employees and less on competitive salaries and benefits and onsite amenities.
That’s going to mean insightful content about culture and employee experience that defines how and where the work will get done. FAQs, employee stories, and videos are important in post-pandemic recruitment and retention. It also means ensuring candidates and employees have the flexible work options that studies show they want.
Building and promoting company culture with a virtual workforce is different than the pre-pandemic company culture. Company leaders must shift away from micromanaging and measure actual employee contributions with objective data. Trust and fairness are more important to company culture with a virtual workforce. The pandemic has created a hyper-focus on health and hygiene as well as a need for flexibility, and people want work that supports life.
Post-pandemic recruitment is different now. Candidate and employee expectations have changed. The ways many companies do business have changed. Recruiting and hiring have also changed. And there’s no going back to the way employers sourced and hired employees in 2019 and before.