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Digital Recruiting During Coronavirus: The Key to Post-Recession Success

by Brad Mete

May 11, 2020


recruiting during coronavirus

Few companies remain unaffected by the market downturn we’re currently seeing during the coronavirus pandemic. It can be an uncertain time for organizations as they seek to find a way through to the other side of a potential recession. The blueprint lies in answering several questions: Why do some companies make it out of a recession, and even thrive afterward, while others struggle? What do these successful organizations have in common, and what does it mean for your business in the face of COVID-19?


Learning from Previous Recessions

If learning from the past is the way to avoid repeating it, then investigating the recessions of the last few decades is clear. Begin by considering the economic downturn of 2001. The companies that relied solely on cutting their workforces as a survival strategy only had an 11% probability of performing well after the recession. For example, in that recession Office Depot cut 6% of its workforce and saw sales growth go from 19% before the recession to 8% afterward. Alternatively, Staples increased their workforce by 10% during the recession and saw their post-recession sales double over previous sales.


Of course, there are more factors at play, but it’s significant that the companies that thrive are those that invest. Studies from that same early 2000s recession found that the firms that cut costs faster and deeper than rivals actually had the lowest probability of getting ahead of their competition after the recession. It’s why the organizations that emerged in the top quartile after the recession were those that spent 15% more than their peers.


Staples doubled sales by increasing their workforce by 10% during a previous recession


This is a trend that extends to other eras. Looking at the market downturn of the early 1990s reveals that the companies that emerged successfully were those not afraid to spend their cash reserves. They refocused their strategy rather than cut spending, thereby trading short-term profitability for long-term gain. Likewise, in the recession of 1981-82, companies that invested aggressively in advertising saw sales growth of 256% by 1985.


Successful Companies Are Investing in Recruiting

If investment is the way forward, and if people are your most important asset, then the key to post-recession success is clear: now is the time to focus on recruiting. Note that recruiting rather than hiring is the best practice. Cultivating a healthy pipeline of great candidates is the secret, whether they are hired today or in several months.


Millions of workers are being displaced. The talent pool is ballooning, and some of these individuals are the best in their profession, possibly even coming from your competitors. These professionals are researching new employers and applying for new jobs. You want your name to be top of mind when they do. A company that recruits during a recession shows a high level of strength and confidence. That makes people comfortable in aligning their future with yours.


Focusing on recruiting during a recession puts you ahead of the competition and lands the best talent


When your recruiting process is thriving, then the moment you’re ready to close on a hire you will find yourself miles ahead of the competition. Let’s imagine that you continue to recruit but wait to finalize hires. A few months from now, the economy starts bouncing back and most companies resume their recruiting and hiring. You will already have exceptional talent deep in your recruiting pipeline. They are groomed and interested in your organization. If another company tries to put them in the start of their recruiting process, then that means you’re ready to make an offer while competitors are still getting out of the starting gate.


Digital Recruiting Best Practices During Coronavirus

How can you recruit in the face of coronavirus? How can you accurately describe your culture or environment to someone who can’t physically visit the office? The answers come by focusing on the overall candidate experience. There is more attention than ever on how employees are treated, with a quote from one HR leader summing it up nicely:


“How employers manage their workforces across the next five weeks will have lasting implications for their employment brand for the next five years.”


This is why your digital brand is so important to recruiting in this new normal. With greater intent than before, candidates are going to your website and LinkedIn to see what your company stands for. They’re visiting your Facebook and Instagram pages to get a sense of your culture. Does your company look like an enjoyable place to work? Do they see employees volunteering together or enjoying certain perks? When a candidate googles you, and they will, Glassdoor is likely to come up. What kind of reviews and company responses do they see? Harness the power of all these platforms to garner interest early in the recruiting process.


Logistically, video interviews are exploding in popularity right now, with 86% of employers using new technology to interview candidates in light of COVID-19. Video gives recruiters the ability to connect with candidates through visual and social cues that a phone interview lacks. If a recruiter is allowed in the office, then they can give the candidate a video tour of the workspace. To give a candidate a sense of their potential coworkers, recruiters could even set up zoom calls between candidates and one or more employees. When you can’t bring an interviewee into the office, these are the ways to give them a taste of the culture and environment.


86% of employers are using new interview technology during the COVID-19 pandemic


Finally, etiquette is of the utmost importance when recruiting during this time. Ideally, recruiters are always acting in professional and personable ways, but it should be recognized that every candidate is dealing with the current pandemic in one way or another. Some may seem afraid to make a decision or act less sure of themselves than normally. Understand that it’s an uncertain time, and focus on building a supportive relationship with that individual. Reschedule calls if necessary and give the candidate extra time if they need it. Communicate with them often, expressing your ideal hiring timeline. Boost their confidence in you by explaining why you’re so sure your company won’t be firing employees in the near future. Reassure candidates in the these ways and you’ll soon have a pipeline of talented individuals ready to work for you when you’re ready to hire.


Recruiting During Coronavirus

Based on past market downturns, the most successful companies are those that invest in their future through recruiting. While a recession is not fun for anyone, it does represent a time when the largest numbers of top professionals are available and receptive to your company. Focusing on recruiting puts your company in the best possible position when the market turns back around. In other words, prepare for tomorrow’s success by taking the right steps today.


Lean on IntellaPro to boost your recruiting efforts and cultivate a pool of exceptional and interested candidates. Reach out to us today.


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