Four Things that Do Not Change for Recruiting and Hiring during a Crisis

by Jeremy Eskenazi

Unfortunately, there will always be another “crisis” to deal with.  Whether it’s a health concern, a business concern with vendors, customers and/or employees, or an economic concern, it looks like these crises may be here to stay for a while. While companies spend time in their “war rooms” making important decision about customer, vendor and employee interactions, there is an important audience that requires the business leader’s focus and planning as well: job candidates.

The candidate experience has likely been mapped out and refined by the business’s human resources or hiring manager team and is both an art and a science. Representing a business’s brand from the very first interaction, through interviews and onboarding is all about the relationship. In the turbulent times ahead, it becomes even more important to bring a business’s candidate experience to life, even if it’s done from afar. As business leaders think about their strategy to keep the hiring engines on and bring in the talent their organization needs for the future, here are four key elements of the experience that should not change during any crisis.

Communication. Businesses will need to communicate in new ways and through different channels, but should not let touchpoints or interaction with candidates go quiet! It’s even more important now to stay connected through phone, video, text, chat or carrier pigeon — whatever remote tool is preferred. Businesses should consider doubling their efforts to reassure candidates the hiring engine is not going to be turned off during this period.

Set Clear Expectations. In communication, one area to be clear, consistent and sure about is expectations. Some companies may have suspended all travel and banned visitors to their office; that is a reasonable business move at this moment. Not telling candidates that such a move was implemented is not! In the case of companies that had shared with a candidate that they will eventually be invited in for an in-person interview but are no longer able to do that, the company needs to be clear about the contingency plan, if the hiring will be paused based on the nature of the role, and when they will take a next step.

Keep Interviewing. Video interviewing is not new — but not every company is using it. Businesses don’t need a fancy tool; it can be any two-way video chat they use to establish a visual connection to their candidates. Those that do have a video interviewing tool in place can continue to scale their hiring efforts and build a talent pipeline — but should make sure to keep the above two points at the forefront of their efforts. In the case of businesses not entering a hiring freeze, talent acquisition teams should continue as much of their usual operation as possible.

Be Ready. Recruiters are the face of the company for most candidates. It’s important that companies arm them with the latest updates, decisions, business impacts and positive steps they are taking during this crisis. Much as they would share a new product release, award or new executives named at the company, companies should make updates about their safety and productivity efforts available for recruiters to share with candidates who will likely have questions about how a given organization is protecting employees, the financial impact that might change the company’s outlook, or leading efforts to keep communities safe.

It’s a daunting time for each of us to worry about our health and the health of those we care about. There are complexities, from manufacturing and retail roles that are done only in person, to trying to work in new ways to get a sense for who someone is in more corporate roles without being able to meet them. Companies are asking candidates if they feel comfortable coming to a business location for interviews knowing there might be some risk, and both sides are trying to navigate the pros and cons in the effort of having the best matched talent in each role.

Through all the uncertainty and differing opinions on what the best approach forward is, businesses leaders need to remember that the candidate experience must remain top of mind. It is the differentiator; how businesses treat candidates now will impact their ability to hire for the foreseeable future. It’s OK to not know the answer to timelines or travel guidance, or if office policies are in flux right now; many companies are making decisions every day in real time as new information comes to light. Communicating badly, not being clear about expectations, stopping any talent acquisition engines, and keeping recruiters or HR teams in the dark is not OK!

Many locations may be in a state of change for the foreseeable future. It is not a place anyone wants to be in, but everyone is — so business leaders have to make sure to keep focused on engaging with candidates to show them that, regardless of any external factor, their company is great place to be.

Jeremy Eskenazi is an internationally recognized speaker, author of RecruitConsult! Leadership, and founder of Riviera Advisors, a boutique recruitment/talent acquisition management and optimization consulting firm. Eskenazi is not a headhunter, but a specialized training and consulting professional, helping global HR leaders transform how they attract top talent at some of the world’s most recognized companies.

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