The current pandemic continues to impact our lives in a myriad of ways. By now, it is clear that COVID-19 isn’t exiting our lives as quickly as it came roaring in. As talk of recovery begins for businesses around the world, another important part of the conversation is how the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we do things in the workplace  — in many cases for the better. 

Recruitment and hiring hasn’t escaped this new reality either. As such, it is more important than ever for companies to identify what has changed and evaluate which parts of this new normal in recruitment they will bring forward into the post-COVID world. 

Here are 7 ways that COVID-19 has changed the way companies hire and recruit talent. 

1. Video interviews and virtual interview processes have become the norm.

Brought about by necessity, companies have had to embrace the virtual interview process in short order. While it can be challenging to navigate virtual interviews and find top candidates virtually, especially when most interviews so far have been done face-to-face, the cost and time savings for both parties make it worth the effort. In many cases, companies may realise that virtual interviews are in fact the best option throughout the hiring process, or only incorporate virtual aspects to make the process more efficient.   

2. Location no longer limits the talent pool.

COVID-19 has forced many companies to transfer parts or all of their operations online, proving that location doesn’t need to be a limiting factor for many business transactions — including talent recruitment. Where the search for the perfect candidate used to be limited by geography or relocation budgets, now companies have the opportunity to tap into a much bigger talent pool. 

3. Demand for companies and industries is shifting.

Some industries or types of companies that used to attract top talent that wanted to move fast and take risks might find themselves losing talent to more established companies as professionals seek job security, a natural need during uncertain times. Additionally, industries and functions such as technology find themselves in high demand above other more traditional industries as professionals look towards the future. 

4. Companies must sell themselves in the interview process.

This has always been the case, but in post-COVID recruitment, the ability to sell yourself as a company will become paramount. As businesses recover and begin to grow again, professionals will have more choices about who to work for and under what circumstances. Nilay Khandelwal, Managing Director at Michael Page Singapore explained in this Future of Hiring series, “Gone are the days where we can just roll out a list of technical skills and think if you put out an offer that person will accept. Companies are selling themselves to the candidates as much as the other way around in the new interview process.”

5. Physical perks can’t replace real company culture.

When it comes to company culture, your physical workplace will be less important than before, meaning companies can no longer rely on a stocked pantry or a ping pong table to replace cultivating a clear culture and lasting values within the organisation. Now is the time for companies to focus on company culture and define the values under which they operate. 

6. Professionals are rethinking their purpose.

One side effect of these long periods of time at home is that professionals are rethinking the work that they are doing, the impact it has, and the value it brings to society. Nicolas Dumoulin, Managing Director of Michael Page India recently observed, “We will see a change in the mindset of professionals. Once we start seeing more certain times where people can go back into a regular work routine, a lot of people will be rethinking their careers. We foresee a big wave of professionals wanting to change their lives and their jobs.” 

7. Company reputation will be key in hiring.

Candidates are more informed than ever before about working conditions, and how companies have responded in these challenging times will make a big difference. As Trang Tam Nguyen, Global Head of Human Resources at Unilever Singapore, explained in a recent Michael Page webinar,  “People will remember what you do as a company during tough times - what you do now will be remembered forever. In these times, the employer becomes the social safety net, and how you lead the team through a crisis will determine retention and the ability to attract talent in the future.” 

3 hiring factors COVID-19 hasn’t changed

Soft skills will set the best candidates apart. 

All technical skills and experience being equal, soft skills are a main factor that companies should focus on when deciding who will get the job. Companies should use behaviour- or situation-based interviewing in order to evaluate soft skills and ensure a strong cultural and technical fit for open roles that will lead them into recovery.

Companies need to streamline their hiring process to get top talent. 

If hiring is still slow, now is an excellent time for companies to evaluate their hiring processes and ensure it’s effective and streamlined. When hiring does pick up again, speed and organisation of these hiring processes will make the difference between landing highly sought after talent, or not.  

Employee Value Proposition is as important as ever.

Beyond salary, people are still looking for a sense of purpose and meaning when it comes to work. Professionals are less likely to be happy with just a good salary and a bonus. Instead, they‘re seeking non-monetary benefits and want to know that the work they are doing means something. Ultimately, it is about finding a company whose values align with their own.

COVID-19 closed borders, disrupted economies and changed the overall landscape of life as we knew it. A pandemic of this scale was sure to create some major changes in the way that companies recruit, hire and retain talented professionals. The companies who will find success will change as needed, not only adapting to the new normal, but embracing it as a catalyst for development. The first step in this is to seek out and recruit the right people to bring them through to the other side. 

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