On the 30th of January 2020, the World Health Organisation’s Director – General declared a Public Health Emergency of international concern due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

This marked the beginning of a domino effect that would shape our current job market.

Indeed, the dynamics that once drove the recruitment industry changed dramatically as governments across the globe began implementing lockdowns of varying degrees in length and seriousness as well as new health measures.

This of course impacted everything we knew to be normal. From disrupting expected business growth, causing mass redundancies, changing our working arrangements, halting free movement, limiting face to face interactions, and diminishing international travel, the COVID-19 crisis flipped the entire industry on its head.

Although the world is slowly learning how to function within this new reality, we are very much still navigating the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, and will be doing so for a long time. Knowing this, we ask ourselves “what will the long-term impacts on the recruitment industry be, what are the changes we’ve witnessed so far and how will we adapt?”

 

Introducing new tools & processes

 

Transitioning from In-Person to Virtual

Hiring has always relied on simple human interactions which we took for granted such as handshakes, eye contact, body language, face to face conversations, verbal and non-verbal cues, etc. In fact, I would go as far as saying that pre COVID-19, the entire industry relied on us being in close proximity to one another to function.

Unsurprisingly, like many other industries, the pandemic revolutionised our way of doing business, forcing us to adapt to a new world we never imagined possible. 

Between forced isolation, lockdowns and borders closing around the world, we’ve been pushed to develop new ways of interacting with our clients as well as evaluating & assessing candidates. For many, this meant making peace with letting go of traditional in-person interactions, replacing them with virtual or phone meetings and interviews

 

Need for new tools in the decision making process

Although virtual meetings are incredibly powerful and have turned out to be a great substitute to in-person interactions, there are still certain things that are harder to perceive through video.

In this context, many recruiters have needed to implement new tools such as online psychometric assessments or behaviour based systems that track a candidate’s behaviour during a web call or online evaluations. 

Complimentary tools such as these are now considered essential to getting the job done, which means that a recruiter will be expected to be a lot more tech savvy moving forward.

Although technology can simplify and streamline processes, it’s important not to rely on it too heavily. Why? Because the recruitment process isn’t black and white, and requires a human touch, especially when it comes to making sure the candidate experience remains positive and smooth.

 

 

Virtual onboarding

Whether (or whenever) a vaccine becomes available, borders reopen internationally or companies decide to invite their employees back into the office, I think we can all agree that remote working is here to stay. And this for good reason! 

Despite its obvious benefits such as decreasing commutes and increasing productivity to name but a few, remote working also gives companies access to a myriad of talents across the globe.

Whilst remote working gives businesses the opportunity to diversify their skillset, it also comes with its own set of challenges. Indeed, how does one onboard a remote employee? Now is the time to brush up on virtual onboarding!

Although it may seem simple, an employee’s first day sets the standard for the rest of their time at your company. As such, virtual or not, the experience must remain smooth, easy & inclusive.

Given that most companies are not used to onboarding team members virtually, this will undoubtedly require time and preparation, as well as the input of both the recruitment & HR teams within your business.

 

A shift in the market’s dynamic

At times of crisis, the job market tends to be shaken up with thousands of people being made redundant, and this time is no different. This of course has led to an oversaturated market where demand is higher than what’s on offer.

Whilst some may believe that all companies are experiencing hiring freezes, this isn’t actually factual. Whilst it’s true some businesses have had to downsize, others are opting for “cautious hiring”, where they’re being a lot more careful when considering bringing someone on board, but continue to keep an eye out for outstanding candidates.

This is where recruiters have an important role to play. Although there may not be as much demand as there once was, market watch is becoming more prevalent as many top-notch talents have been laid off and companies are open to discussing these profiles.

 

Skills gap & industry shift

With certain industries being more impacted than others, it is natural to experience a skills gap in the market. In terms of recruitment, this means two things.

First, there is a need to adapt to these changes and to refine one’s knowledge about the industries set to boom post COVID-19.  

Secondly, there is a need to understand the skills that are currently needed in the job market. As a recruiter, being able to identify specific skills that will prevail in the long-term is key to properly guiding clients. 

Although hard skills are and will always be essential for a given job position, the pandemic has proven that soft skills are what makes a difference, especially in difficult times. This makes the recruitment process even more complex than before, as soft skills are the hardest to discern and assess during an interview process. 

In addition to this, today more than ever, hiring managers have their nose to the grindstone, having to manage constant change whilst meeting business’ objectives. This is where a 3rd party recruiter can make a difference and take this burden off of your shoulders.

 

Emergence of a global talent pool

Whilst companies have always had access to global talent, the norm was not to hire someone from overseas for a given position, but rather to seek out talents available locally. Yet, if COVID-19 has taught us anything it’s that talent doesn’t have borders and companies don’t need to either.

In fact, with the rapid (and forced) shift to remote working, businesses of all shapes and sizes have come to realise that employees don’t necessarily need physical supervision to perform exceptionally or be productive. In fact, studies have revealed quite the opposite.

With that in mind, it’s no wonder global powerhouses such as Google or Twitter have decided to make working from home permanent, whilst others, like BP, have opted to reduce their office space.

Supported by powerful technologies, the challenge of having staff spread across different locations no longer exists. In addition to this, the talent pool, whether employed or unemployed, is seeking more flexibility, whether it be regarding their work setup, their working hours or where they live compared to where the company they are working for is.

With myriads of places to look from and a plethora of talent available at your fingerprints, how does one know where to start or where to focus their efforts? This is where recruiters can help. Equipped with the market knowledge and deep understanding businesses need, today’s recruiter’s role is to guide their clients and advise on the best way forward.

 

From a transactional to a consultancy approach

It’s fair to say that, given the context and the changes we’ve had to face in the industry at both a recruiter and client level, hiring has become more of a consulting process where clients need better advice and insights on market trends. 

With that in mind, we are noticing a real shift in the way relationships are built and evolved. Today’s employer needs to be listened to and guided, they want to know why a recruiter thinks a candidate is or is not for them rather than just checking boxes. 

At the same time, because of the distance, collaboration is becoming more prevalent in the hiring process. Recruiters need to move away from their keyboard and jump onto phone calls or even visio calls to communicate. 

Not only is this more efficient but it also shows a real eagerness to support clients in their journey of finding the right talent. Inevitably, this also creates a deeper connection between recruiters and their clients, which results in a more human approach and way to collaborate.

Such changes were necessary in the recruitment world which, over the recent years, had become quite dry and fast-paced with many recruiters flinging CVs to clients rather than spending time tailoring the sourcing. 

At a company level, this has also brought senior management into the hiring discussion right from day one. This means that instead of it being considered a HR burden, hiring is finally becoming a company wide “task”. On the other hand, at a candidate level, it provides more opportunities as resumes are looked at by more people. 

 

Overall, the recruitment sector, like many others, is one that has had to adapt very quickly over the course of the COVID-19 crisis.

Moving forward, it is important to ensure both candidates and employers are educated about these new practices and understand the value in preparing and mastering the hiring process. Although the market may be oversaturated, talents have never been so sure about what they want. As such, understanding their requirements whilst making sure business’ operations are met is key in recovering and growing sustainably.

Nothing of greatness can be achieved alone so if you’re in need of help, our local experts are at the ready, wherever you’re looking to hire!

 

About the Author:

With 10+ years experience in Talent Acquisition, Asthon is an expert in finding top-notch candidates. Passionate about his work, he makes a point to create long-lasting relationships with his clients in order to watch them grow and thrive over time. Having helped clients both locally and internationally, he is one-of-a-kind growth partner.
Read more about Ashton Ngwenya.