Recruiting in a Less-Than-Perfect Economy

A recruiter’s job is not easy, no matter the market conditions. The tools and strategies that get used have to adapt to the challenges of the market, and truly no two days are ever the same.

COVID-19 has presented a very unique set of circumstances for today’s recruiter. The talent market went from one of the tightest, with the unemployment rate at 50-year-lows, to one flooded with available candidates almost overnight. And while some might initially assume recruiting has gotten easier over the last several months, it hasn’t. It’s just different.

Here is how recruiting has changed since COVID-19, along with tips to recruit in a less-than-perfect economy:

Increased applicant flow means job descriptions need to be overtly clear.

Recruiters today are challenged with an increase in candidate applications. While this can sometimes mean less sourcing, additional vetting and resume reviews are required. It is important to have clear job titles and descriptions to attract the right quality of candidates. This means that instead of general preferred skills, like “strong communication skills,” clearly defined required and preferred skills are better to include.

Leverage technology for high-volume jobs.

The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted low-wage, hourly workers the most. According to the Labor Department, about 35 percent of the lowest-earning workers lost their jobs. As this population of newly unemployed began job hunting, job applications to hourly jobs spiked, creating additional work for recruiters.  To keep the recruiting process moving along, technology can be effectively used to do things like field responses to basic knock-out questions or to match talent based on social profiles while protecting the time a recruiter spends on vetting an individual candidate who may ultimately not be a good fit for the open job he or she applied to.

Now is not the time to ‘set it and forget it,’ especially when it comes to recruiting.

A general trend we have seen in hiring manager and candidate satisfaction surveys is that responses are low and the few that have come in are negative. People are strapped and stressed. So, is a standard satisfaction survey fit for purpose during a pandemic? Probably not. Why not shorten or revise these surveys altogether? When it comes to recruiting, and all ancillary activities like satisfaction surveys, now is not the time to wash, rinse and repeat. It’s important to be on tone and focus on the right efforts to yield the best results.

If you can be one thing, be more human.

It’s important to take note of the general mood, especially in a less-than-perfect economy. How a recruiter approaches each candidate phone screen and every hiring manager touchpoint matters. Everyone has a lot going on right now – from either working from home or losing a job to working in a household with kids who are remote learning, and everything in between. Be mindful of the asks being made during the recruiting process – and, be human. Get back to the basics and acknowledge things like background noise to demonstrate understanding and to put people at ease. Successful connections are made on a human level, and that does not necessarily have to happen in-person if you act more personable over the phone or on video.

Prioritize the candidate experience over the company agenda – always.

When everyone first moved to a work-from-home basis, video was the thing. But Zoom fatigue is real, and people, especially those job searching, are getting tired of all of the required video chats. COVID-19 has taught everyone of the power of connecting on a remote basis, but make sure it is the appropriate amount, especially when it comes to video meetings in the recruiting process. Try to consolidate video requests into one meeting, or make video optional, depending on who the candidate is meeting with. This is true no matter the status of the economy: Candidate experience should always be the number one priority.

More candidates do not mean more new hires, but here’s how to keep people engaged.

The candidates who are currently employed and considering new career opportunities are nervous to make a jump, and rightfully so. And while recruiters cannot guarantee the role they are recruiting for is safe or secure (that would be unethical), there are ways to get someone excited about a new job, even during a pandemic. Focus on the importance of the role within the organization, the growth trajectory of the position and to share how excited the hiring team is to have the position filled. It is important to be honest, with both candidates and hiring managers, about the status of the search but to progressively be walking both parties towards a hiring consensus. When recruiting in a less-than-perfect economy, there is no time for stalemates or false positives.

The talent market continues to adapt to the global economy, and so, too, are recruiters. Agility, mindfulness and precision are timeless, and they are staples to successful recruiting, no matter what the market conditions are.