How to Recruit and Hire During the Coronavirus Outbreak?
Due to COVID-19, many companies have gone completely virtual. If you're hiring, here's what you need to know to adapt your recruiting process successfully. COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of our daily lives — and jobs are no exception. On Thursday morning, the Department of Labor released its latest jobless claims numbers, revealing that a staggering 3.3 million people filed during the week ending March 21st. Even during the worst weeks of the great recession (2007-2009), those numbers never reached the one-million mark.
"Last week provided our first indication of just how severe the shutdown of the U.S. economy could be, as Americans combat the ongoing spread of the coronavirus," says Mike Fratantoni, Chief Economist for Mortgage Bankers Association. As mass layoffs lead to hardships for American households, some companies are ramping up hiring to keep up with unexpected demands brought on by the crisis. Here's the latest on who's hiring and how to apply.
With COVID quarantines in full effect across the country, many companies have shifted to fully remote operations. However, hiring for essential positions can't stop just because you're not physically in the office. If your company is looking to fill positions right now, you will need to adapt your regular recruiting efforts and keep your candidate pipeline full in this new remote work landscape.
"Companies that are [recruiting] new talent during the pandemic will need to make some common-sense changes to standard procedures, such as using video conferencing tools for interviews," said Will Bachman, co-founder and managing partner of Umbrex.
Check out this post about Government Updates on Coronavirus.
With the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the world is in the midst of what could turn out to be one the of the most significant pandemics of the century—or, at the very least, a disease epidemic, unlike anything the U.S. has seen in over a decade. And it's hitting people hard where they spend a considerable chunk of their time: at work.
With massive industry conferences like South By Southwest in Austin cancelling at the last minute, mandatory travel bans, quarantines, and work-from-home policies in force, companies are faced with balancing the health and safety of their employees with the need to keep the lights on. "There are no rulebooks for this kind of stuff," says John Bremen, managing director of human capital and benefits for advisory firm Willis Towers Watson. "This is really a new and evolving situation."
Now that worldwide cases of COVID-19 are in the six figures, and disease experts are warning the elderly and immune-compromised to avoid travel and crowds, we heard from workplace experts about the tough choices employers must make in the midst of the turmoil. Here, we answer some of the most asked questions about how to deal with a highly contagious virus at large.
The reality of remote recruiting and hiring
While the abrupt transition to full-time remote work may be challenging for companies, this situation could be extremely beneficial if you're hiring. According to Bachman, full-time employees who are now working from home will have greater flexibility to take a call from recruiters.
"Additionally, the pandemic is causing many employees to question many assumptions about their life, and so a greater percentage of the talent pool may be open to a discussion about a new role," Bachman added. With the opportunity to snap up top-notch talent for your team, companies need to ensure their recruiters are ready and able to keep the candidate pipeline running smoothly. This includes equipping them with the technology they need to work from home and having the proper reporting channels in place so everyone can be kept up to date about open requisitions, said Bachman.
Alongside this, LinkedIn is creating an "urgent jobs" board to give these openings more priority visibility. People whose skills match up with those needed for these jobs who visit LinkedIn's jobs homepage will see the special listings highlighted. Those who sign up for job alerts with matching skills will, in turn, get real-time alerts of the jobs as they get posted.
The volunteer ads also link up with an expanded Recruiting for Good program to help bring in more people to work with nonprofits in both volunteer and paid roles. And those doing the recruiting will also get three months of free access to LinkedIn's talent insights tools to figure out where their (free) ads are best placed around hiring trends and more. Organizations that have already signed up to use these include the American Red Cross of Los Angeles, the CommonSpirit Health hospital network, Doctors on Demand and New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
The new initiatives underscore the more significant trend of how tech companies are looking to provide whatever assistance they can bring to the table during the coronavirus pandemic.
(Others include Google, which is trying to help with testing, while also providing a landing page for official and local information, while both Facebook and Twitter are trying to stamp out fake news while surfacing links to official organizations for help.)
Recruitment — which has traditionally been LinkedIn's biggest revenue generator (as part of Microsoft, it does not regularly report financials on its business lines) — has been in an interesting position within that.
On the one hand, recruitment and its counterpart, employment, have been two of the essential levers in fighting this pandemic. On the clinical front, hospitals and related care organizations are scrambling to keep up with the surge in demand for their services, leading to significant recruitment drives to bring in people with relevant experience, in some cases going straight to the ranks of those who may have left the profession and now are being asked to step in again.
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In the U.K., for example, some 4,500 doctors and nurses have so far answered an open call to come back into medical service (many will have moved on to other non-clinical or managerial roles in the NHS, or left the public sector, or the profession altogether, not just retired due to age), with more likely to come. And that's only on the clinical front. We see a multitude of call-outs across other sectors, like technology, to bring in experts in AI and other areas to help design software and hardware to slow the spread of the virus, to alleviate some of the side effects, to identify it faster and maybe even to cure it potentially.
These Industries Are Still Hiring
Shipping and delivery companies
Amazon is hiring 100,000 workers, mostly for fulfilment and delivery, and some UPS hubs are hiring as well. However—fair warning—both companies are facing criticism over employee safety. Some couriers are also hiring. Amazon's new openings are full and part-time roles at delivery networks and fulfilment centres. The surge in demand is due to the number of people resorting to online shopping as a necessity during the quarantine.
Online learning companies
Now that over 30 million children are out of school, it's boom time for online schools, which are swiftly expanding capacity. Outschool is hiring thousands of teachers to meet demand.
Zoom Video is being used by so many who need teleconferencing to work from home that the company's stock has doubled since the beginning of the year. Currently, they are hiring professionals for business solutions, tech support, customer service, among others. Some of the available positions can be performed from remote locations, according to the listings.
Just like Zoom, Slack has seen a spike in user growth as more people have joined for instant messaging among coworkers. A lot of workers have been forced to go remote, and platforms such as Slack have allowed a smoother transition. They are currently seeking candidates for a variety of positions, some of which can be performed remotely.
Upwork is a freelancing platform that serves as a middleman between professionals and businesses. A large number of companies look for talent on Upwork, so there are plenty of opportunities for freelancers with web development, design, writing, legal, and other skills.
TaskRabbit offers consumers the opportunity to reach qualified professionals for one-off gigs. Providing everything from handyman work to general domestic help, TaskRabbit can connect taskers to new clients in a matter of hours. To join, users are required to pay a $25 fee that is non-refundable.
Grocery stores and delivery services
Grocery stores are your friends. Major chains such as Kroger, Meijer, and Safeway are hiring in-store shelf stockers and delivery staff; ditto for regional chains such as Raley's. Grocery delivery services and apps such as Instacart are also hiring.
As the need for deliveries has increased, so have the opportunities for couriers. On-demand platform Postmates delivers everything, according to their website. With the threat of the coronavirus, the company has posted guidelines on its website to ensure the safety of couriers and clients alike.
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Food delivery is one of the fastest-growing commodities, given our current crisis. As a result, Uber Eats has reported an increase in demand. If you're interested in applying to become a driver, remember to check if Uber Eats is available in your city.
Pizza Hut is carrying out an aggressive recruitment process, looking to train new delivery drivers in a matter of five hours. They've also made it a point to emphasize how they're now carrying out contact-less deliveries for sanitary safety. In essence, meaning orders are left at the front door to maintain social distancing.
How to communicate with and onboard candidates if you're hiring during COVID-19
If your company's hiring strategy has changed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kristen Ribero, director of enterprise marketing at Handshake, recommends that companies take a proactive approach and close the loop on all open communications with active candidates. With so many things currently in flux, candidates will remember and appreciate companies that keep them informed in personalized, empathetic ways throughout these new hiring processes.
"Checking in on people or sharing brief status updates can go a long way in building trust," said Ribero. "They'll notice little things, such as using their first name and sending a small personal note rather than something that reads like an email auto-response." If you're looking to hire in the near-term, Bachman said employers should allow new hires to work from home until the pandemic is under control.
"Establish procedures to onboard employees remotely," he noted. "Employers will be in a particularly strong position to attract top talent if they can design roles that allow working from home on an ongoing basis."
"Make sure you take the time to introduce new employees to the company through virtual meetings and encourage team members to welcome new employees through a short email or Slack messages," added Ribero. "Arrange a virtual office tour for potential hires or even a virtual presentation about different job roles at your company."
Employers should be using any channels to keep workers updated. "In times like this, I think over-communicating is absolutely fine," Morek says. She recommends communicating via email, via phone for those employees who don't use their email or who don't have access to email, and creating a particular area on your website or intranet for COVID-19 employee updates.
Create a dedicated phone number employees can use to find out the status of the workplace. "Supervisors must listen to employees and allay fears, as best they can, by conveying knowledge and facts," Morek says. That goes for more general COVID-19 information as well. More than half (59%) of companies have organized communication campaigns geared toward preventing the spread of the disease.
How about interviewing in general during coronavirus?
At this point, we hope companies are listening to government mandates and not recommending that candidates come on-site for interviews. If they are, here's how to navigate that ask: I'm excited to move forward with the next step of the interview process! I'd love to come on-site to see the office, but because of the risks of social interaction during this pandemic, are you able to accommodate a video/virtual interview instead?
You should expect that all interviewing will be done virtually for the foreseeable future, so if you've never interviewed via video in some form, there are a ton of resources right now with tips and best practices. Make sure your tech is up to date, and you know the best place in your home for the internet that also is quiet with appropriate backgrounds.
Both candidates and employers need to prepare for remote video job interviews as the "new normal" for the foreseeable future. Here are a few tips for conducting successful virtual interviews from home, whether you're a hiring manager or a job seeker.