As a recruiter faced with the daunting task of finding new candidates in an unprecedented crisis, what can you do? We talked to several recruiters and talent professionals about what they’re seeing and what steps to take next.

Across the United States and most of the globe, economies have been shut down, severely altered or slowed down due to COVID-19 and the coronavirus.

This has severely impacted business plans and revenue forecasts for all of 2020. Most C-suites have tossed their original plans out the window. And the recruiting playbooks that you have depended on for the last few years may no longer work.

Or will they?

The job market has been steady for several years with amazingly low unemployment. Because of that, candidates were at an advantage and even passive candidates were often receiving multiple job offers and receiving hard recruiting advances.

Now, recruiters face a different landscape.

“Recruiters are for the most part hiding and wondering what's going to happen,” said Hayato Nakamura, CEO of Lead Control Media, a recruiter marketing services firm. “But other recruiters are very aggressively seeing this as a chance to gain market share since the pie will shrink, but their competition is also lying around waiting for the storm to pass.”

What will you do? If you want to get ahead of your competition, here are ways to utilize this unique opportunity.

1. Look To Other Industries For Talent

More skilled workers will be available now than in previous months, says Omer Molad, the CEO of Vervoe, a skill assessment platform. Companies looking for great talent are now in the driver’s seat and will get flooded with lots of applicants.

“Over the last few years candidates have been in short supply due to a strong economy and historically low unemployment,” said Molad. “Overnight that dynamic has been flipped on its head. Unemployment is rising at an unprecedented pace and recruitment efforts are being frozen across a range of sectors. Healthcare and grocery delivery are the notable exceptions, obviously.”

Healthcare administration will still see solid hiring gains and may need even more help as the impact of COVID-19 is felt across providers and insurance companies.

“With our clients primarily in the healthcare space, we should not see a huge downturn in hiring. My team found six people new jobs last week and I found two myself,” said Taylor Desseyn, a senior recruiter advocate with Vaco Staffing and based in Nashville, TN.

If you are in an industry that is hiring, think about expanding your outreach to skilled professionals from other industries. Their current employment situation could be shifting and they may be more interested now in making a jump to an industry that they weren’t previously interested in.

“Our initial plans of building a sales team for 2020 is still on track. We're also seeing a lot of good talent being let go due to budget cuts and shut downs, and we are actively reaching out to people, and if they're a fit, finding a way to quickly bring them onboard,” said Aswin Shibu, Head of Sales at MixRank, a data analytics platform.

2. Find More Quality Candidates Through Shared Job Sites & COVID-19 Postings

Highly qualified applicants are seeking work, and a lot of them are doing so at the same time. Recruiters will probably spend more time sorting through resumes and qualifications. The work will move from candidate outreach and sourcing to assessment and evaluation. Now may be a good time to consider new AI-based screening tools if your team is still continuing with the recruiting process.

“So now instead of worrying about attracting applicants, companies all of a sudden need to contend with filtering through hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants. While previously a high volume of applicants was limited to lower skill roles, we're now seeing high skill and high volume together,” Molad says.

Lots of new job boards and listings have popped up in the wake of COVID-19, sharing hiring opportunities and new sources for job seekers to find work. Recruiters can add their own positions to these boards, and broaden the reach.

OneClub is a popular option for creative professionals that are now looking for a position, and Upstream is a new social networking site launched at the beginning of March to share new positions and to recommend others who have experienced a furlough or job loss.

3. Be Honest About What Has Changed In Your Recruiting Process

Acting like the coronavirus has not occurred or hasn’t affected your plans would be disingenuous and false. You may want to communicate about what roles you’re still looking for and what changes to the process have occurred.

“Your employer value proposition still holds true, but anticipate the questions that candidates will have during this time. Provide recruiters with an FAQ (and keep it updated) that they can use to quickly and thoroughly answer questions and potential concerns,” said Lori Sylvia, the founder of Rally Recruitment Marketing in a company blog post.

The coronavirus crisis has raised new questions about benefits at companies, such as work-from -home policies and medical care benefits. Job candidates currently employed will understandably be nervous about making a switch during a time like this, and those looking for work may have new questions about your long-term outlook. This is a time to closely work with your HR teams on updated information.

4. Go Digital With Online Video Interviews And Assessments

Face-to-face interviews will likely be ceased for the foreseeable future and it probably isn’t worth the risk to fly in a candidate, even if both parties are available. What’s left?

Online video interviews, of course.

"We are more lenient on how well presented the candidates are. We understand that most candidates are interviewing from their kitchens or bedrooms and we are supportive of the fact that they are doing their best to juggle work and personal life while being stuck at home," said Henry Goldbeck of Goldbeck Recruiting

The world has taken to Zoom, and even television shows with huge budgets have turned to more informal styles of handheld video. This doesn’t mean that your online video interview is less serious or important, just that the context has changed.

“The majority of companies have not materially changed their evaluation process, just take it online. In other words, they're still screening in the same way, using the same questions and methods, but they're doing it over Skype or Zoom,” said Omer Molad of Vervoe.

In the end, companies may find some new savings and evaluation techniques by utilizing online pre-employment assessment tools, video interviews, and AI recruitment software.

“Some companies are seeing an opportunity to innovate and rethink their process altogether. One example is companies that are replacing interviews with skills assessments. Another is companies that are replacing assessments centers with interactive online challenges,” Molad said.

These changes may force your team to work differently within your team and company, not only with candidates. And ones that have already embraced digital workplaces, work-from-home options, and online recruiting can accelerate even faster.

“Companies who have had a remote/work from home policy in place are able to quickly navigate the waters right now. We have a few clients in Nashville who like everyone onsite 100% of the time and to be totally honest they are hurting right now. Most of our final round onsite interviews are moving to WebEx/video calls which is allowing companies to still move forward with hiring,” said Taylor Desseyn of Vaco Staffing.

5. Look To Freelancer Marketplaces & Talent Matching Services To Fill The Gap

Another option is to turn to freelancer sites, marketplaces or sophisticated talent matching services to meet your immediate needs. Not all of these services are built the same way.

Several platforms like Toptal, Hired, and Gun.io have already screened, tested, and vetted talent. These are freelancers, part-time, or full-time workers on short-term contracts that are usually available right away or only in a few short weeks. Many of them come from across the globe, which means they are already familiar with the rhythms of remote work.

Sites like these can remove the frustrations of hiring, while ensuring that you’re not laying off your new hire in only a few short months. Because let’s face it, no one is certain about what’s next. Using a site like Toptal or Hired takes out the risk.

Conclusion: Find Ways To Improve Your Processes Even In A Crisis

What your recruiting team may discover in the middle of this chaos is that there are a few strategies worth keeping when you get back to the office. Systems may be forever changed as your team has gained a new focus on what’s important or processes that now work better than the old way.

“This has been a great opportunity to more effectively connect with new hires; we are having to be more intentional and deliberate in our approach,” said Jen Locklear, Chief Talent Officer of ConnectWise.

  • How is your recruiting team handling recruiting during the coronavirus?
  • What changes have you made or implemented?