A Catalyst for Change

How the global pandemic will shift hiring practices as businesses start to recover.

By Christina Ioannou

2020 has been a year of change, especially for HR teams across the U.S. as they navigate the effects of COVID-19. As a result, HR managers have completely shifted how they evaluate candidates and the overall qualities they view as desirable. Following the initial layoffs and hiring freezes caused by the shock to the economy, now, six months later, some companies are ramping up hiring again as their businesses start to recover.

Overall, HR teams are seeing a larger and more qualified talent pool than at the start of 2020. As organizations look to expand their workforce, it is vital that HR teams adjust their thinking on how they hire, who they interview, and where they look for candidates. But most importantly, HR managers should not just be looking to find a candidate to fill a role: The goal should be to find the right candidate for their company. Here are five best practices to leverage as the ways of hiring evolve.

1. Remote hiring is here to stay. Due to the shift to remote work, the hiring process has been completely overhauled. Where in the past, candidates and interviewers could meet face-to-face and get a better understanding of who they are, they are now communicating completely through digital means via phone calls and video conferencing.

Communication has never been more important than it is now when it comes to recruiting and interviewing. Throughout the hiring process, HR and hiring managers should be in communication with candidates not only via email but through phone calls and video chats where applicable. The goal is to build a mutually beneficial relationship through overcommunication, sharing feedback, and providing transparency where possible.

In fact, a recent report by Jobvite, How Recruiters are Adapting to a World of Remote Recruiting, indicates that 55% of recruiters are making more phone calls than ever before, and the majority are using video in the screening (61%) and interview (80%) process.

2. Make recruiting creative. While digital-only communication can be a daunting barrier for HR teams and companies as a whole, it provides a call to action to be more creative throughout the entire hiring process. For example, requiring candidates to make a quick video based on a prompt that asks questions like where they’re from, their favorite vacation spot, or their favorite show allows the candidate to shine and show off their personality. The goal is to ensure that the candidate is a seamless fit for the team they would be joining, and oftentimes, a video or a similar multimedia project allows more insight into who they really are than the typical interview process may reveal.

3. Ignore the gap between gigs. COVID-19 has resulted in layoffs and hiring freezes, leading to larger gaps on candidates’ resumes. Traditionally, a resume with gaps in between positions would be frowned on; however, recent events have softened the view on this front.

As a whole, the workforce is navigating unprecedented times and a candidate’s lack of work leading up to an interview may be completely out of their control. After all, companies across the nation had to make tough decisions over the past six months, deciding to halt hiring and let go of some of their best employees due to budget constraints. As such, resume gaps may not be a reflection on one’s abilities, work ethic, or potential at a new organization. Inquiring about what a candidate has been doing in their spare time could provide even more insight into who they would be as an employee.

4. Diversity is key. As HR teams and recruiters sift through applications and search LinkedIn profiles for viable candidates, diversity should be at the forefront of their minds. In order to create a more collaborative environment, companies need to look at a range of individuals with different backgrounds and experiences.

It is important that companies do not just do more of the same when considering their future employees. Hiring individuals who have different cultural upbringings and educational backgrounds are important steps to a more diverse team. HR managers might not have interviewed a candidate without certain prerequisite degrees or previous work experience in the past, but in 2020, it could be an opportunity to provide a fresh perspective. In fact, the pandemic has even sparked individuals in different industries to reflect on their careers, change what they want to do, and apply for new and different positions.

Diversity, whether it be in the form of cultural, educational, or professional background, should always be a key factor in hiring. For example, the hiring team at LEWIS has made seeking out non-traditional hires, or candidates graduating from community colleges or those with experience in a different industry, a key part of its recruitment process. By being open to doing things differently and considering different types of people, the team has found many talented individuals who have added great value to the organization.

5. Hold company-wide hiring meetings. Companies as a whole need to congregate and think through the future of their organizations, the types of candidates they want to see on their teams, and what resources they need for this to happen. Whether meeting daily, weekly, or monthly, it is vital that leadership teams align on the overall goals of their hiring practices.

Additionally, HR teams need to help influence and shift the attitudes of leadership teams who are used to the hiring process of the past. Through education and sharing insights, business leaders and HR teams can work together to articulate and communicate what the future of their industry should look like in terms of its people. Shedding light on how hiring different types of employees could be beneficial is an important step HR teams need to take when educating their organizations.

Navigating hiring practices during COVID-19 will change the HR industry for years to come. Organizations need to think through their recruitment processes and implement better communication and creative ways of getting to know candidates, as well as consider diversity, understand job gaps, and more. The pandemic has been a catalyst for change across industries and will permanently shift the way companies hire and who they hire to ensure that they are choosing the right candidate for their team.


Christina Ioannou is vice president of HR at LEWIS Global Communications.

Posted November 17, 2020 in Talent Acquisition

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