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Editorial Team
21 Jul 2020



Hiring in the COVID-19 Era – What You Should Know and Do

The pandemic has transformed the world of business. Along with ways of working, hiring too must change, with employers and employees stepping up to the plate. 

Pre-COVID-19 seems almost to be a distant chapter in history now. That was a time when the unemployment rate across the globe was at an all-time low. Recruiters had become very creative in their approach to sourcing talented candidates, leveraging technological tools in their pursuit of being counted among the top employers and staying one up on their competitors in picking up the most talented candidates.

Now, though, life itself has transformed to near-unrecognizable levels. And it is still changing! The future remains uncertain, but unemployment is touching new highs, and there is a strong likelihood of a global recession. The pandemic may take away 300 million jobs across the world, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO), and the lockdown is weighing down on 81% of workers across the world i.e. 2.7 billion people. According to the World Economic Outlook, advanced economies may go down by 9%, with the overall global economy possibly falling 3%.

All of this is far worse than the crisis of 2008-2009, so if companies do not adapt to the new reality, they will surely be left behind!


How has hiring been affected?

COVID-19 has led to recruiters pulling back their plans of getting more people on board. Candidates too have had to push back their interviews at times, courtesy technology hurdles. In fact, 60-65% of interviews could be affected, either being delayed or dropped completely.

This does not mean there will be no jobs a few months down the line. This is a time to take stock, and judge if and when the business will be back to its usual pace, and consumers will want the products and services as much as they did pre-pandemic. That is when hiring could come back. By the time it does, though, workplaces will be very different from what they were – indeed, many that were previously seen as on-site only operations have now gone fully remote – and so will the skills required by companies.


What is the effect at the company end?

Given how many workplaces are working remotely, HR departments are still working on getting everyone up to pace on the routines this would involve and the logistics that would be required. They also must contend with workers being harder to reach in the first few weeks, given they are balancing home and health concerns with work, and settling things down.

Company revenues in many cases have taken a hit, and thousands of workers now find themselves without a job, with dropped interviews, or with hiring plans scaled back. There have however been certain sectors whose products and services are in even higher demand due to the pandemic. Healthcare, supermarkets, and a few others expect to hire in large numbers even now.


Hiring plans will need adjustment.

Recruitment may go down or up, but plans for hiring will now need to account for the reality of the pandemic and its aftermath, and the need to keep business productivity up.

Hiring needs must be reassessed, and the focus should be only on critical hires. Look at what the company really needs at this time, and the skills and people indispensable for this. It is also advisable to consult managers across departments and tune hiring plans accordingly. Do maintain contact with good candidates whose interview or hiring plans have been put on hold, as when the economy recovers, these could still be excellent people to get on board.

Recruitment budgets may need to be trimmed, and hiring plans must keep this in mind. For instance, advertising only critical roles will lower advertising expenses, as could halting subscriptions to technology tools that may not be used for a while.

Internal hiring could be a great option. It is easier to gauge the skill level and suitability of internal candidates, and moving them to different, rewarding, and challenging roles within the company could also be a good reward for loyalty. This will need a smooth internal process to keep everyone aware of internal job requirements, so that the right candidates can be recommended. This could also be coupled with reskilling and upskilling the workforce.

This is also a great time to work on employer branding. Let customers know about how the company is helping its employees during the pandemic, as this reassurance demonstrates an adherence to ethics, empathy, and support.


Job seekers will need to step up.

Caught between furloughs, layoffs, and remote work, job seekers could find themselves in a quandary. Applying for jobs and sending out resumes may seem pointless, but good online networking and a tab on opportunities can only come handy when businesses bounce back.

Unless there are serious issues at the current place of employment, it is wise to put off job searches at this time. Part time or freelance work could be an option if the person is out of work. Leverage online contacts, and practice for online interviews. This is also a good time to reflect on the type of work one wants to do, and start making contacts accordingly.

Follow up with companies who have put hiring plans on hold, but do so with empathy for the situation. Track their responses to the crisis through social media, as it shows interest and understanding for their concerns. Work on picking up new skills, as this could put the candidate at the head of the queue for new job openings.


The last word…

COVID-19 has brought many changes for both employers and candidates. A flexible and adaptive approach to both hiring and searching is what will hold them in good stead as the world adjusts to this new normal.

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