In just a few weeks’ time, COVID-19 has turned the labor market upside down. The US unemployment rate is in the double digits, and although state and federal governments have taken unprecedented measures to help businesses survive, we’re headed for an inevitable economic downturn.
Despite this, many companies are looking ahead and beginning to prepare for life after COVID-19. Hiring post-pandemic will be substantially different from what you might have expected at the start of 2020. With millions more people looking for work, applicant volumes will increase dramatically. Plus, given that some industries have been hit much harder than others, many candidates will have to start applying for roles outside their traditional fields. Complicating matters even further, the new 6-feet-apart economy will also necessitate a mostly remote recruiting process.
To hire successfully in these circumstances, you’ll need to update your recruitment tech stack. Here are three things to consider:
1. Be Ready for Volume
The average number of applicants per open requisition was 59 in 2015, and that number had decreased to 27 in 2019 thanks to declining unemployment and the booming economy.
Things are different now. With nearly 20 million full-time workers expected to lose their jobs in the pandemic globally, the average number of applicants per open requisition will likely skyrocket. Businesses will have to prepare to handle much higher volumes of job applications than they are used to.
Your tech stack will need some sort of recruitment solution that can help you manage large numbers of applicants without sacrificing your high hiring standards. Toward that end, you’ll need the ability to vet candidates easily and quickly narrow your options down to a short list of qualified talent.
Assess the recruiting automation capabilities your current tech stack offers. Are you already utilizing automation? Can you utilize it further? The more you can automate the manual, repetitive parts of the recruiting process, the more time you recruiters will have to engage with the strongest candidates and build connections.
2. Implement Remote-Friendly Solutions
In a socially distant economy, you’ll need to carry out major portions of the hiring process virtually, including sourcing, screening, interviewing, and onboarding.
You’ll likely need to leverage a few different solutions to successfully hire candidates without meeting them face to face. A video interviewing platform will be absolutely crucial, and you may also want to invest in technologies to support webinars and virtual job fairs. You may also have to trade on-site assessments for virtual job tryouts or assessments employees can complete at home.
As you consider possible tools, keep in mind that it’s most convenient to choose technologies that can integrate with your existing applicant tracking system. This will ensure all your key data can be aggregated in one place. After all, clean data organization makes your life a lot easier when you’re dealing with high volumes of candidates. You should also look into cloud-based solutions, as these will allow recruiters and hiring managers working remotely to access the tools they need.
3. Implement Assessments
Employers in leisure and hospitality, travel, nonessential retail, and many other sectors have been hit especially hard by COVID-19, and it will take a while for these industries to recover from the effects of the pandemic. As a result, many people who used to work in these industries will be looking for work in new sectors.
Don’t reject these candidates straight away just because they lack direct work experience in your industry. Instead, implement assessments to evaluate candidates’ transferable skills and capabilities. For example, skills like cognitive ability, customer orientation, and planning and organizing can be valuable in almost any role or industry.
Moreover, it’s important to note that job experience alone is not a good predictor of on-the-job performance. In fact, according to research by psychologist Frank Schmidt, multi-measure tests — e.g., tests that assess multiple facets of a person, such as cognitive ability, personality, and interests — are 5.5 times more predictive of job performance than job experience is. Using skills capability assessments can ultimately help you make better hiring decisions in any situation.
The next few months won’t be an easy time for talent leaders. A lot will change, and it’s a good idea for organizations to start evaluating and updating their recruitment tech stacks now to keep up with those changes.
A tech stack optimized for the post-COVID era will be prepared for higher candidate volumes, suited to remote recruiting, and based on evaluating candidates according to their real skills and capabilities. With the right tech tools in your arsenal, you can make great hires even in these trying times.
Barend Raaff is CEO of Harver.