The evolution of recruitment during COVID-19

Written by
Darren Lancaster, CEO of Americas and EMEA, Hudson RPO

12 Nov 2020

12 Nov 2020 • by Darren Lancaster, CEO of Americas and EMEA, Hudson RPO

Hudson RPO’s latest report, After the Pandemic, identifies key trends and challenges for the recruitment industry as COVID-19 continues. Darren Lancaster, CEO of Americas and EMEA, outlines the key findings.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an uneven effect on recruitment. While many businesses have had to freeze hiring and onboarding indefinitely, others – such as those in fast-moving consumer goods and life sciences – have been unusually busy.

With remote working, social distancing and video conferencing now a part of our daily working lives, a number of trends have emerged in our conversations with recruitment professionals. 

Greater use of video technology

First, almost all of our clients have incorporated video technology (including pre-recorded question and video interviews) into their hiring processes, and are also adapting and using existing technology better. For example, rather than having a straightforward two-way video conversation with a candidate, recruiters have been using virtual challenges to try to replicate the interview experience online. 

We’ve noted that the use of technology has brought more positives than negatives, particularly around speed of hire. Industries that used to hold several rounds of interviews have been able to involve multiple stakeholders in a single online candidate interview, allowing them to gain different viewpoints. Interviews can also be recorded (with an applicant’s permission), so that the person with sign-off can review applicants rather than conducting a further interview. 

Outcomes-based performance

A second clear development has been a mentality shift around presenteeism. Despite missing certain elements of office life, employees have generally embraced the enhanced flexibility remote working has brought. Meanwhile, organisations have seen a rise in productivity, acknowledging (for example, from the challenges faced by working parents home-schooling their children) that productivity needs to be measured in outcomes rather than hours. 

Managing productivity is about gauging the maturity of the people we employ. If our people have not been productive while working at home, they’re probably not productive in the office either. A greater focus on outcome-based performance will be a positive from our pandemic experience. 

A spotlight on candidate experience

The growing importance of candidate experience to employer branding is another notable trend. Many candidates are reluctant to leave secure jobs in the face of an ongoing pandemic and predictions of a prolonged economic downturn, and organisations are having to be very persuasive to encourage people to leave their existing roles. 

Though the coming recession is likely to see an increase in applications as redundancies hit, an emphasis on positive candidate experience, including how managers represent their organisations, remains vital: we know that a candidate’s experience of a brand informs their opinion of it as a potential customer. Without in-person interaction, managing the recruitment process for candidates becomes even more important. 

Support for diversity and inclusion

Finally, it’s important to not lose sight of issues outside of COVID-19, such as the focus on racial equality, in light of the Black Lives Matter protests. Recruitment professionals will need to act as diversity and inclusion (D&I) ambassadors, keeping abreast of what’s happening globally and how they can support the D&I agenda. Doing so will make them better recruiters. 

As we move towards 2021 and the next stage of this pandemic, one main characteristic must come to the fore in the recruitment profession: resilience. For leaders, this will involve transparent communication, empathy with employees’ personal situations, and a sense of positivity in the face of challenges. 

To learn more about the future of recruitment in the post-pandemic era, download Hudson RPO’s special report.