Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, recruiters and human resources managers have had to evaluate how they can best vet and interview job candidates and onboard new hires while remote. While no one really knows how long organizations will operate out-of-office, it’s likely that some of the new norms of talent acquisition and training are here to stay. We wanted to provide some important context to how hiring and onboarding has changed during the pandemic and provide strategies human resources teams can use to overcome HR challenges both now, and in the future, as it relates to virtual recruiting and onboarding.
Related Reading: How to Evaluate IT Candidates Remotely
COVID-19’s Effect on Hiring
Once the pandemic hit, hiring teams had to revamp their recruitment and candidate outreach strategies in the absence of in-person tactics, such as interviewing college students at job fairs and networking with skilled professionals at industry events.
One unique aspect of the pandemic was the direct effect it had on national employment. Before the virus hit the U.S., unemployment hovered around four percent before drastically shooting up to 14.8% in April 2020.1 While the effect of the pandemic varied from industry to industry, sectors that experienced spikes in unemployment shifted from a candidate-driven job market to an employer-driven one.
While this gave employers in industries with higher unemployment the hiring advantage with having access to larger pools of skilled job seekers, it also brought new challenges, such as having to efficiently assess more resumes and applicants to prevent losing top talent to a competitor. Now with unemployment nearing six percent, it is unclear when the market could shift again. Employers should continue to monitor their industry’s employment rates and trends to inform hiring strategies.
How to Recruit Top Talent for Remote Work
While in-person meet and greets and interviews are no longer possible in states with quarantine guidelines in place, hiring teams will have to continue focusing on virtual and online platforms of communication. Here are four strategies for successful hiring during the pandemic:
1. Hire for the Remote Workplace
It’s unclear how long the pandemic will last into 2021, so employers should prioritize hiring candidates with skills that translate well into remote work, such as organization, effective communication, and tech-savviness. Hiring managers should also be sure that candidates are equipped to succeed with minimal coworker or manager interaction due to the remote aspect of working during the quarantine.
2. Prioritize Online Methods of Communication
While hiring teams likely used social media and online job postings before the pandemic, these platforms become more important than before for getting the word out that they are hiring. With in-person interactions off the table, recruiters will primarily use online channels to find job candidates.
Organizations should analyze their social media outreach and job postings to ensure that they include messaging that resonates with skilled talent and highlights company culture, career growth opportunities, and benefits. Consistency and frequency is very important when evaluating your social platforms. You want to ensure your message is consistent throughout and
that you are frequently posting new and fresh content to reach a broader audience, and keep them engaged.
Take the same approach when adjusting language on the website, paying close attention to how work life and skill development is portrayed. By speaking in a way that appeals to job seekers, organizations can better attract talent to work at their office instead of a competitor’s.
Related Blog: What Will Telework Look Like After the Pandemic?
3. Leverage a Staffing Agency’s Talent Pool
While actively pursuing job applicants is more difficult during the quarantine, employers can work with recruiters from a staffing agency to expand their available talent pool and streamline hiring processes while remote. Staffing agencies have the resources, industry expertise, and job seekers connections that can give organizations a much-needed boost during the pandemic. In addition, employers partnering with an agency can reduce the internal time spent reviewing resumes, conducting virtual interviews, and following up with job applications, allowing them to focus on other more important business growth objectives.
4. Stay in Front of Technology Issues
Voice and video call platforms aren’t infallible, meaning that remote interviewers should prepare their methods of contact ahead of time and have backup options ready in the case of technology problems. Hiring team members should double-check meeting invites, performing dry runs of a call to familiarize themselves with the features of each program used, test the default microphone and webcam, as well as having extra headphones nearby in case the primary microphone fails. Always having the candidate’s phone number handy is also a good idea should all else fail. These tactics help recruiters eliminate potential trouble spots when communicating virtually, enabling smooth and stress-free outreach.
Related Reading: What Will Telework Look Like After the Pandemic?
COVID-19’s Effect on Onboarding New Employees
Onboarding new employees can be a bumpy process for many organizations, but it's important to note that this can have a direct impact on retention and employee turnover within a new hire’s first year. In March 2020, 12% of employees indicated they strongly felt their company’s onboarding process does a great job.2 Note that this survey was done before the pandemic hit full force and employers shifted to new methods of remote onboarding and training, a situation that likely didn’t boost process approval.
Before the pandemic, there were many challenges associated with onboarding including inadequate or abridged programs, unknowingly omitting critical information, and not having a designated person to handle training and to answer questions—all which can impact employee retention. As organizations moved to operating remotely, HR managers and hiring managers still had to navigate the typical onboarding obstacles but also had to figure out how to stay connected and engaged while virtual.
Related Reading: Creating an Employee Onboarding Program - 3 Reasons to Customize
How to Effectively Onboard While Remote
Since it’s no longer possible to pop over to a new employee’s desk to strike up a conversation and see how they are handling the transition, a designated team member should periodically check in throughout the new hire ramp-up period (e.g., first day, first week, and every 30 days thereafter) via messaging apps and video or voice calls. This is probably the easiest way to make sure the new hire doesn’t slip through the cracks and that their questions or concerns are addressed quickly.
Another important aspect of onboarding is ensuring that new employees have the necessary documentation, tutorial videos, and other resources are readily available and easy to access and review. One strategy for making sure a new hire isn’t overwhelmed is setting up a document with links to helpful information all in one place. Another tactic HR managers can use is to record a video going through the necessary onboarding resources and highlighting the most important things to take note of.
As businesses continue to onboard remotely. It’s important to:
- Potentially allow more time to complete onboarding and have patience with the process
- Designate mentors for new hires that can check in and answer any questions they may have about work expectations and culture
- Look out for new technology that can help streamline remote training and onboarding
Interested in learning more about how HR teams can address recruiting and onboarding challenges during the pandemic? Speak to a Sparks Group expert!