For most HR professionals, the global COVID-19 pandemic has been striking and unexpected. However, to varying degrees so were the 2000 dot-com bust, the 2008 Great Recession, the 2015 Chinese stock market crash, and many minor booms and busts in between. And that’s just from the last two decades.
All booms and busts have one thing in common — they don't last forever. Whether it was Caesar boosting the economy by building roads back in 300 BC, or the US administration printing trillions of dollars today, history has shown us that this too shall pass.
As an HR recruiter who has had the privilege of consulting with remarkable client leaders through 15 years of economic cycles, I've seen executives with strong, inspiring visions turn decline into opportunity. With that in mind, here are some tips for hiring the right people during this time of uncertainty.
Don’t Freeze the Process
It was only a few weeks ago that employers were battling for talent. Today, the majority of organizations have shifted gears to hiring freezes, reduced hours, and layoffs. There are many companies delivering essential resources and services who have ramped up their hiring, but the net job loss is significant. Unemployment has gone from a 50-year low of under 4 percent to what economists are predicting will be 15 to 25 percent, depending on your jurisdiction.
Savvy executives are looking to the future — what will our business look like 6 months from now, and how can we use this time to ensure we have the right team in place to tackle those new challenges and resume our growth trajectory? It may seem counter-intuitive, but this is how one of my clients described it:
"If you have a solid business that has weathered storms before, the current situation is only temporary. The only thing we don't know is whether it's temporary for a month, three months, or longer. The same people who were hard to secure three weeks ago will be hard to secure again when some degree of normalcy restores.”
Give an Open Start Date
Candidates understand the unique strains on businesses today — from prioritizing employee and customer health, to moving operations online, to full shutdowns. Most talent we’ve spoken to are happy to engage in discussions now; during times of significant change, it’s natural for people to reflect on what is next and what is important to them. Some are looking for a sense of security.
I had one client who recently secured a business development professional, with direct industry experience, who had just moved to the city. A few weeks ago, there would have been at least a handful of companies competing for her. The candidate's comment after receiving the letter of offer was, "The fact that these guys have such confidence in the endurance of their business, speaks volumes and makes me excited to join their company.”
An open start date is one of the best ways to secure sought-after talent without enduring payroll expenses today. When business picks up, and your competitors are busily trying to hire, you will already be training your top pick.
Conduct Thorough Socially Distant Interviews
First, opt for a video interview over a phone interview. You’ll get a much better sense of a candidate's professionalism, and you’ll build a stronger connection. There are many options available, and many of them are free, such as Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom, or even Facetime. If an in-person interview is necessary, while honouring the CDC’s recommendation to maintain 6 feet of personal distance, I’ve seen clients go for walking interviews outside.
Find the Right HR Experts
Remember that tough times don't last but tough people do. Let’s keep helping each other as best we can, and make the most of a difficult situation.
If you need help with recruiting, outplacement, people policies, or other HR issues during this unprecedented time, reach out to us. TPD has navigated through many uncharted waters by helping our clients sail through the very same waves. You can reach us here, through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 1.844.873.4745. For additional HR resources, visit our COVID-19 HR Support Centre.