Unpausing recruitment

September 9, 2020
Unpausing recruitment

Lots of things got put on hold during the coronavirus lockdown. But as the engines of enterprise begin to roar back to life, some organisations are now unpausing recruitment. And many employers are surprised by just how much recruitment has changed!

Why recruitment suddenly stopped during lockdown

During lockdown, a huge number of companies simply pushed the “pause” button on recruiting. 

There were some notable exceptions, of course. Amazon, for example, pledged in April to recruit 75,000 new employees. But for most organisations, continuing to recruit was simply not an option.

In part, this was because:

  • They needed to deliver a remote working process for existing employees, which took attention away from other areas of business like recruitment
  • Fewer customers and less revenue meant no requirement for new hires
  • They felt uncertain about their organisation’s future, and didn’t want to risk hiring new starters only to sack them straight after

There were many more factors, of course. But the point is that for many organisations, recruitment stopped. And this recruiting pause lasted for many months. 

But with governments throughout the world now encouraging people once more to return to the workplace, many business leaders say they are recruiting once again.

The way we recruit may now be a little different

Despite many organisations embarking on a physical return to work, many business leaders are re-thinking the way they hire. A lot of the people I spoke to about this told me that they were reducing their reliance on face-to-face interviews, and instead turning to remote screening processes, even for shortlisted candidates. 

Willie Greer, for example, founder of The Product Analyst, says that he has moved his entire hiring process to the virtual world

“We paused hiring when the pandemic struck” he told me. “We only resumed once we had redesigned our hiring process. All exams, interviews, and even the final decision interview, are now done virtually.”

Most people I’ve spoken to say that they are now using video calls, via platforms like Zoom, to conduct video interviews. Alternatively, some are using dedicated video interview software – such as the video interviewing function within the People HR system

I’ve actually been researching video interviews since long before lockdown. So if you’d like any further advice, why not watch my short video: Top 10 video interview questions and why you should ask them.

There is desperation amongst job seekers

Something to expect when you resume recruitment, is an increased sense of desperation amongst job seekers. 

You see, there’s a lot happening off the back of the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees are being laid off. Businesses are going into administration. For many, the outlook is bleak – and there has been a surge in the number of job seekers actively looking for work. 

The BBC reported that between March and July 2020, the number of people in the UK claiming unemployment benefits surged to 2.7 million. And this doesn’t take into account the number of people who started lockdown on furlough leave, but ultimately went to lose their jobs once their employers could not recover

With more people looking for work, employers are telling me that they sense a level of desperation amongst job seekers, with many of them even willing to adjust their expectations. One recruiter told me that they were seeing a lot of applications for part-time work, from people with only full-time career histories. When asked why, the candidates would reply with comments like “I’ll take what I can get”.

Expect huge numbers of applications

With so many people looking for work, you can expect to see a massive amount of people applying for jobs.

Almost everybody I spoke to told me that the moment they resumed recruiting, the thing that surprised them the most, was the sheer volume of applicants. So be careful not to let these potential volumes overwhelm you.

If you do get a large number of applications, then it might be tempting to take shortcuts, such as keyword scanning software, to build your shortlist faster. But make sure you read about the pitfalls before doing something like this. You might prefer to simply ask a few colleagues to help you vet candidates instead.

The diversity in applications might surprise you

Perhaps the biggest change recruiters are noticing, is the types of candidates applying for roles. For example, many job seekers are applying for roles they have never worked in their life.

“I’ve noticed more applications coming in from a wide variety of backgrounds” says Dan Bailey, president of WikiLawn. “We’re hiring for a sales position, and I’ve seen everything from people with only retail sales experience, to professionals in other fields hoping to transfer some skills over.”

Dan says that he sees this as a positive change – he is getting some excellent candidates who would be great for the role, but who may not have ordinarily applied.

Is your applicant tracking system up to the task?

With lockdown pausing recruitment, our development team spent some time improving our applicant tracking system, to make it run faster and easier once our customers began recruiting again. 

If you’re already a customer, then you can see the changes we introduced on our news website here

Alternatively, why not explore our Applicant Tracking System here?

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