Hiring in COVID Era Is Tough; Here Are 5 Strategies

It is impossible to determine precisely how long it will take for the economy to rebound from COVID-19. It’s even more difficult to pinpoint which jobs will disappear and which will emerge in the post-pandemic world. But one thing remains clear: Hiring leaders will need to think and act differently to overcome these ever-evolving challenges.

Attracting, retaining, and developing talent has proved challenging as the economy continues to gradually recovery from the devastation caused by the pandemic. In an era defined by social distancing and remote work, many hiring leaders are researching and implementing new strategies, including some that resemble those used during the Great Recession.

However, the disparate impact of COVID-19 on certain industries, occupations, and populations has upended the labor market and resulted in continued shortages of talent. This lends urgency to the need to adapt hiring practices to meet current and post-pandemic conditions.

Internal hiring managers and external recruiters alike should consider these five recommendations to navigate the new normal, adapted from insight provided by Forbes Human Resources Council.


Hire for today’s skills – and ability to learn tomorrow’s

Learning agility is critical for the ever-evolving workplace of the COVID era. Instead of hiring only for current skills, companies must source talent with the ability and mindset to master new ones, adapt to new situations, and maintain resilience amid changing conditions.

The World Economic Forum estimates 133 million new jobs will be created in major economies as soon as 2022, and it predicts a need to reskill more than 1 billion people by 2030. Global employers like Amazon and PwC already have pledged to invest in reskilling to ensure their workers keep up with digitization.

With these trends in mind, it makes sense to emphasize recruiting and upskilling the high volume of jobseekers who were displaced from their former roles in Accommodation and Food Services and Leisure and Hospitality. These industries have the highest rates of COVID-related job loss, job stress, and lowest job satisfaction and job meaning. Workers from these fields possess valuable, transferrable skills that could benefit any industry when their skillsets are applied and developed appropriately. According to research from the Harvard Business Review, 5% of Hospitality and Food Service workers nationwide successfully transitioned into new roles in marketing, advertising, and public relations by developing complementary skills in fundraising, event management, and relationship building. Additionally, 7.3% were able to successfully transition into sales, 5.2% into office and administrative services, and 2% into human resources.


Troubleshoot potential barriers to employment

The labor market is flooded with displaced workers from virtually all sectors and walks of life. But tapping into these talent pools will require flexibility.

We know from prior research that these individuals likely face multiple, compounding barriers to employment, including inadequate education and skills, needs for childcare and transportation, and histories of substance use. In the wake of COVID, flexibility in scheduling will be required at a time when many workers are simultaneously acting as teachers, babysitters, and employees. Employers also need to help troubleshoot these barriers by reimagining work with innovative solutions like internet stipends, flexible schedules, or reimbursement for home office expenses.


Build a diverse workforce

Research shows that people of color, millennials and women were disproportionately represented among the newly unemployed. Hiring practices and company cultures must be inclusive of diverse talent to attract and retain workers from these largely untapped talent pools. Creating a sense of inclusion and belonging has added benefits: Research shows that companies with diverse employee bases perform better financially and are more innovative than those where diversity has not been a focus.

Companies should ensure job descriptions are relevant to candidates from all backgrounds. Hiring managers must pay attention to candidates who show potential beyond their resumes. And recruitment professionals must look beyond the company’s base market, especially as remote work expands.

The resources developed by members of Talent 2025 are helping employers make measurable gains in reducing unconscious bias in their hiring processes, ultimately enhancing the diversity and inclusivity of their workforces. These data-driven strategies can also be benchmarked against other local employers, providing a method to illustrate year-over-year progress both within an organization and against competitors.


Reconsider not only who but how you hire

Different recruitment methods may become necessary as the pandemic continues to ravage recruiting budgets, “ghosting” becomes more prevalent, and competition for top-tier candidates inflates wages. One little-known approach, recruitment research, harnesses market intelligence to deliver quality candidates. Another strategy is to cast a wider net for remote positions, allowing hiring managers to source skilled talent from other states and lower-cost regions.


Last but not least, do not overlook internal candidates

Even though the downturn has expanded the talent pool, employers still face challenges finding candidates with the skills that match their needs and the personalities that fit their culture. As recently as 2019, the focus was on external recruiting, with just 28% of talent acquisition leaders reporting that internal candidates were an important source of talent.

Those are missed opportunities. But LinkedIn reports a new emphasis on internal hiring, with 73% of talent acquisition professionals saying this strategy is important. The advantage of internal candidates is that they know company culture and the expectations of the job. Promoting from within can promote retention and send a positive message to the rest of the workforce.



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