Set Yourself Up for Success: Recruiting During COVID-19

Olivia Clark
Referral Hiring Expert

It’s a weird time for everyone in the world right now - recruiting during COVID is particularly challenging. Companies are scrambling to create some normalcy with a completely new working procedure while trying to make up for lost resources. Some people’s jobs look drastically different today compared to last year. 

This is particularly true for the talent community. Your company could put a freeze on hiring for months or you could be facing layoffs. If your company is still hiring it’s a weird time to be approaching people when everything is uncertain AND your candidate pipeline could be completely flooded with the influx of layoffs happening around the globe.

Your day to day job activities are a little out of whack right now, but that doesn’t mean everything needs to come to a full-on stop. We all need something to do while we’re still stuck in our house, right? So if you're currently in a hiring freeze or just need a break from sourcing hundreds of candidates in your pipeline - here's three areas to help with recruiting during COVID.  

Recruiting during COVID tip #1: Housekeeping 

This is the perfect time to take care of all the tedious work that you know will benefit you in the long run but is not a priority during your normal day to day activities. Cleaning your house (your tools and processes) will not only feel really good, but also set you up for a fresh start when the hiring machine starts cranking again. Who doesn’t love a clean house?!

Clean out your Applicant Tracking System (ATS): Clear out old candidates, optimize workflows, and take a look at your candidate stages. You can clean out old job postings too while you’re at it.

Take an inventory of your tools: All companies are looking to cut costs right now, make a spreadsheet of all the tools and their associated cost across your entire recruiting process. I’m talking sourcing to offer letter. Is there a tool you aren’t using or do you have tools that have similar functionality? Cut it and save your company some money. 

Scrutinize your processes: There is always room for improvement. Take advantage of this time to poke holes in your process and see where you can make changes. Is your automated email to candidates sending just a bit too late and crushing your response rate? Find out.

Recruiting during COVID tip #2: Analysis 

When you are constantly on the go it’s hard to take a step back and analyze if your day-to-day actions are the most effective. Take this time to look from the outside in. Look at your execution of things that you might otherwise not think twice about. 

Analyze your job ads: Job ads are the first impression most candidates will have of your company. Do your ads accurately represent your company's brand? Do you have one ad that is getting more clicks or engagement than others? Pull out what makes that ad the most successful and replicate it.

Test your messaging: A/B test everything to develop messaging that is guaranteed to work! Emails, job ads, messaging on your careers page, or any public facing messaging. This is a methodology used in digital marketing where you create two variations of the same message with one key and trackable difference to see which preforms better. Messaging tests can be as simple as putting an emoji in your email subject line vs no emoji. Which email has the better open rate? That’s the winner.

Calculate ROI: Take a bird’s eye view of your recruiting program. Outline by candidate source the cost per hire, time to hire, amount of candidates generated, and hires. This will show you where you are getting the most bang for your buck and where you are spending money with little return. Use this to assess the success of your program and where you might need to cut some budget. Use this handy tool to get started.

Recruiting during COVID tip #3: Fill your funnel

Just because your company might not be hiring right now or the candidates are pilling up from your careers page doesn't mean you can't do your part to find candidate that are a great fit for your company. Focus on ways to stack your funnel with qualified candidates. 

Leverage employee referral program: Employee referral programs are the best way to get qualified candidates, fast. It’s also a great way to engage your coworkers who, like you, might be feeling the pressure of these uncertain times. Use it as a touch point to reconnect you with your colleagues and give them some piece of mind that “Hey, everything is going to be OK! We’re setting the stage to start hiring again!” Send out an email and let them know that you are still looking for qualified candidates to fill roles at your company and encourage them to tap into their network. If you can sweeten the deal with a referral bonus down the line, even better.

Focus on diversity and inclusion: Take this time to develop a strategy to create a more diverse workforce at your company. There is a common misconception that employee referrals negatively impact diversity and inclusion at companies. In fact, we encourage you to reach out to your colleagues that fall into underrepresented groups and ask them if they can make a referral for an open role. Start the conversation.

Create a pipeline: Even if you aren’t hiring right now, keep your pipeline warm. Reach out to candidates who you might have been talking to before the freeze to let them know you are still interested and give them a picture of what’s happening with the hiring process. That not only reassures them but will give you a jumping off point when you do start hiring. Don’t leave other great candidates that enter your funnel during this time in the dark either. 

Recruiting during COVID isn't easy - focusing on these three areas during this time will not only keep you occupied, but also give you the foundation to hit the ground running when the time comes. Take a step back to evaluate your program and areas for opportunity - you will thank yourself later. 

For more recruiting tips during COVID check out these resources - Human Resource Executive, Linkedin Talent Blog - Recruiting Trends in 2021, and Harvard Business Review.

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