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High stakes hiring: making every hire count

High stakes hiring: making every hire count

Pandemic. Unemployment. Economic uncertainty. Add all that up and employers either aren’t hiring right now, or if they are, they need to make every hire count.

Budgets have been cut or reduced for most, but the expectation for finding that right fit candidate is as high as ever – the survival and success of your business might depend on it.

“With more people out of work, and more people applying for jobs, it leads to recruiters being overwhelmed,” says Renee Zung, VP, Keystone Partners, a talent management and outplacement firm.

It’s somewhat similar to 2008 when we hit the recession, she says, with one key difference: The most qualified candidates – the outplaced employees who have the right skills – are targeting specific companies they want to work with.

However, there is still a group of people who are applying to anything and everything. “You want to avoid the ones using the spaghetti on the wall approach,” she says. “Go after the quality candidates – the ones researching and wanting to work for that company – instead of the unemployed person that’s just applying to every job,” says Zung.

To survive this period of high stakes hiring, here are nine strategies to help you source the right candidates – and make them count.

1. Know the landscape

“In technology especially, organizations can be super picky right now because there are a lot more candidates; but at the same time, there’s double the opportunity for those candidates,” says Stephanie Wernick Barker,  president of national staffing agency Mondo (an Addison Group Company) specializing in tech, creative and digital talent. That’s because there are a pool of opportunities that candidates didn’t have access to before thanks to remote positions opening up.

If you’re hiring for remote positions, you’re also no longer bound by geography. In other words, you’ll have many more candidates at a time when you also need to be much more selective.

However, keep in mind that the hiring outlook might be different based on industry, especially for in-person roles such as retail or healthcare. Not to mention, there will likely be regional differences as well depending on Covid-19 trends and state shut down mandates.

Having an agile recruiting plan, or one with flexible job postings, that lets you scale up or dial back quickly can make hiring during tricky times more manageable.

2. Lean on your tech stack

From AI for screening and skills testing, to using robust resume searches, it’s never been more important to have the right technology to help wade through the overflowing talent pools. “There’s all these tools you can use prior to bringing them in for the interview. You could use an interview tool where you have the candidates answer five or six questions. You can give an assessment on a programming language, or for an administrative position, some type of excel task,” says Zung.

“The pandemic has really opened everyone’s eyes as to what’s available in the recruiting tech stack,” adds Scott Rivers, managing partner, Cerca Talent+, a talent firm focused on Life Sciences, Diagnostics and Biotechnology. “Today through interviewing tools, there’s so many ways to do video interviews earlier in the process to find someone to meet the criteria from an education, experience standpoint, but also a right fit for the org. The right tools are finally being used,” he says.

3. Use your employees

In order to cut through some of the unknowns when evaluating candidates, companies should start candidate sourcing by soliciting referrals from current employees, says Zung. “The recruiters and recruiting talent at the company could use social media and their company pages as well. Avenues such as that can help reach the highly qualified or passive candidates.”

4. Zero in on what you need from your new hires

“Nobody wants to make a bad hire – that’s costing companies millions of dollars a year,” says Rivers. To avoid that, companies need a clear picture of what they’re looking for in a candidate, as well as how positions may shift going forward. We do a lot in the area of sales, marketing, app support. Those customer-facing roles are definitely going to change,” says Rivers. As such, part of the search should be for individuals who are autonomous, and can work with little direction, he adds.

The goal is to find those superstars who can adapt to multiple roles as new workplace challenges arise, all while being inundated with resumes.

5. Be flexible and let candidates know it

The key is having a plan and being able to communicate that plan to the employees in a way they can understand it, says Rivers. “Employees want to know that the company has their best interest at heart.” Therefore, if there is a valid fear about the virus, making it clear that the company is going to do whatever it can to accommodate team members is important. “Employees should still have a say in if they want to come into that job,” says Rivers. For example, if a worker has an elderly parent at home, companies should be taking that into consideration.

6. Get marked safe from COVID-19

Make sure that you’re sharing your Covid-19 safety plans consistently across different channels so that prospective employees can see them and know that you’re a COVID-19 safe workplace. “Show how you’re keeping your employees safe,” says Zung, while also illustrating how your culture shines through. “Maybe it’s featuring thought leaders that work from home, how you are collaborating with teams. What is it that you’re doing that would make someone want to work for you?” says Zung.

One area of concern that might be bigger in major metro areas is employees having to use mass transit, says Rivers. Think about how you can help support employees from the moment they leave their homes. “I’ve had clients in New York City who have taken down the number in the office to 25% capacity and are paying for parking for those employees,” says Rivers.

7. Showcase your company’s financial stability

During uncertain times, people might be a little skittish to move to a new job. That’s why your employer brand is more important than ever, including the financial health of the company. “If you’re seeing companies actively pursuing candidates, that’s putting out a positive vibe that they’re financially stable,” says Rivers. “They are actively pursuing growth in the organization and looking to come out of the pandemic stronger.”

8. Highlight company values, including diversity and inclusion

Candidates shared in the 2020 Monster State of the Candidate survey that diversity, equity and inclusion is very important to them when evaluating potential employers, including 57% of Millennials. And bear in mind, the survey took place before George Floyd’s death and subsequent protests brought social justice matters to the forefront.

“It’s all about consistency,” says Barker. “Whether it’s ads, images, social media, or internal messaging, be consistent. You can tell the frauds so quickly because it’s people that jump on the bandwagon with whatever is happening. If you just keep the same consistency of your voice and what you care about, you’ll end up attracting the right people.”

9. Double down on candidate experience

Especially with much of the hiring process happening virtually, it’s crucial that recruiters and hiring managers keep candidates in the loop, says Zung. “There’s nothing more frustrating for candidates than to not hear back. The candidate always sends the follow-up emails, but wouldn’t it be nice if the HR department gave a timeframe. And then once they made an offer, the managers and other team members sent welcome emails to them?”

Companies need to have a defined process for how they hire, adds Rivers. “Candidates are going through six interviews and still not knowing where it ends, while other companies are going faster and are more agile,” he says. “Those companies that have a plan and tell a candidate, ‘here’s the process we’re going to follow,’ have a better chance of getting that qualified candidate.”

While high stakes hiring strategies can help you come out on top post-Covid, they are also smart best practices to develop in “normal” times. Finding the right candidates, whether there are many to choose from or you have to go out and find them, will always serve your company well in the long run.

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